Cat Back Exhaust Vs. Turbo Back Exhausts: What's the Difference?

Cat Back Exhaust Vs. Turbo Back Exhausts: What's the Difference?

A well-functioning exhaust system is essential for any vehicle. Original equipment manufacturer (OEM) exhausts are often less efficient than aftermarket alternatives. By making the switch, drivers will reduce harmful emissions, but will also notice a significant enhancement in their vehicle's overall performance and efficiency.

When it comes to upgrading to custom exhausts, two popular exhaust types available are the Cat-Back and Turbo Back exhausts.

In this article, our team at DEA Performance aims to provide an in-depth comparison between these two systems, helping you make an informed choice when considering an upgrade.

What is a Cat-Back Exhaust?

A Cat Back exhaust system replaces the components of your vehicle's exhaust system from the catalytic converter right back to the exhaust tip, including the exhaust pipes, the muffler, and the exhaust tips.

Benefits of Cat Back Exhaust Systems

  • Improved Performance: Cat-Back systems offer serious performance gains by reducing exhaust backpressure and improving efficiency through the mandrel-bent turns, resulting in increased horsepower and torque.
  • Enhanced Sound: A well-designed Cat-Back system delivers a more aggressive and sports exhaust note compared to stock systems.
  • Better Fuel Efficiency: With a more efficient exhaust flow, a Cat-Back system can more easily push exhaust gases through the piping, contributing to improved fuel economy.
  • Better Air Flow: Wider pipes allow your car exhaust system to breathe much better due to well-established airflow.

Installation Process

As there are models available for nearly every make and model of vehicle available, the installation of a Cat-Back exhaust system is typically straightforward and can be completed by a professional mechanic or an experienced DIY enthusiast. They do not require any further modifications and can bolt on where the original exhaust sits.

What is a Turbo Back Exhaust?

A Turbo Back exhaust system replaces the entire exhaust system from the turbocharger to the exhaust tip, covering everything from the downpipe and optional catalytic converter, down to the muffler and exhaust tips. The process involves far more component replacements than a cat upgrade.

Benefits of Turbo Back Exhaust Systems

  • Maximum Performance Gains: Turbo Back systems deliver the most significant performance improvements by eliminating exhaust restrictions from the turbocharger, resulting in substantial horsepower and torque increases.
  • Aggressive Sound: The Turbo Back exhaust also produces an aggressive and louder exhaust note than factory exhaust types.
  • Potential Fuel Efficiency Improvements: Enhanced exhaust airflow can lead to fuel efficiency gains, given how smaller engines can achieve the same level of performance as larger models.
  • Customisation and Tuning Capabilities: Turbo Back systems offer greater opportunities for customisation and tuning to achieve desired performance and sound levels.

Installation Process

Installing a Turbo Back exhaust system can be more complex than a Cat-Back system, especially if it involves modifying or replacing the catalytic converter. Given that there is far more involved in the process, having a professional mechanic handle the installation is recommended.

Comparing Cat-Back and Turbo-Back Exhaust Systems


Turbo Back systems deliver more significant power and torque gains than Cat-Back systems due to their comprehensive approach to exhaust flow improvements. Both systems improve exhaust flow, but Turbo Back systems offer the most substantial improvements by addressing restrictions at the turbocharger.


Cat-Back systems typically produce a louder and more aggressive exhaust note compared to Turbo Back systems.

Fuel Efficiency

While both systems can contribute to fuel efficiency gains, the overall impact depends on the exhaust design and certain vehicle-specific factors, such as engine size and tuning.

As it is, Turbo Back systems may offer increased power, often at the expense of fuel efficiency, but Cat-Back systems can provide a more balanced combination of performance gains and fuel economy improvements.

Emissions and Legal Compliance

Retaining the catalytic converter is essential for meeting emissions standards. Cat Back systems generally comply with Australian vehicle emission standards, while Turbo Back systems may require modifications or the installation of a high-flow catalytic converter to remain compliant.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Between Cat-Back and Turbo-Back Exhausts

  • Vehicle Make and Model: Consider compatibility with your specific vehicle, as not all exhaust types are suitable for all makes and models.
  • Performance Goals and Needs: Evaluate your desired performance gains, including horsepower, torque, and fuel efficiency improvements, to determine which system best meets your objectives.
  • Sound Preferences: Consider the impact of the exhaust note on your driving experience, and choose a system that aligns with your preferences for volume and aggressiveness.
  • Budget and Installation Costs: Factor in the cost of the exhaust system itself, as well as any labour charges for professional installation or additional components, such as high-flow catalytic converters.
  • Legal Compliance and Emissions Requirements: Ensure that your chosen exhaust system complies with local emissions regulations and inspection requirements to avoid potential fines or penalties.

Browse Our Selection of Cat-Back & Turbo Back Exhausts

If you’re looking to upgrade your sports exhaust system, review our range of Cat-Back & Turbo Back Exhausts available online at DEA Performance. If you would like to learn more about these custom exhausts, speak with a member of our team today.

Mar 20, 2023

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