I believe that for the most part CAIs are just noise makers. However, they do sound very nice. This is my first car without one and I'm sure I will get one eventually, if only for the sound. Why do we do axle backs? Sound and only sound, so why shouldn't we do the say for the intake? Plus it makes the engine compartment look really clean.
I agree with you. I hate how people bash on CAI because most of them are "just a for sound" don't don't do much for performance. In my opinion, sound is super important, especially for cars with performance driving in mind. There is a reason that exotic cars use high revving v8/10/12 motors. Sound is so important that many car manufacturers today are using fake/engineered sound that is piped/played through the cabin just for the aural stimulation that it brings. To me, sound is just as important as adding horsepower.
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