Following the monumental emissions-cheating scandal at VW, further horrible revelations demonstrate just how corrupt the modern automotive industry has become: many cars make fake engine noise. And we’re not just talking about those darn sneaky Priuses.
Ford, BMWs, Porsche, and yes, Volkswagen are all doing it, to different degrees. Some of the systems, like the one in the BMW M5, play engine sounds at low volumes through the stereo system. As you’d expect from a BMW, it’s an overly-technological solution: they have built essentially a BMW engine-sound synthesizer that responds to the tachometer and gas pedal data from the car’s data bus. They also let you turn off the “acoustic experience”.
To our taste, the Porsche Sound Symposer and Mustang Boss 302 systems are a little more honest. The former has an actual additional pipe in the exhaust system that (optionally) allows authentic engine sound into the cockpit. The Mustang adds extra resonant tubes to the exhaust, running alongside the mufflers. There’s a restrictor plate that separates them, limiting the amount of extra noise produced. Remove this plate, and you’ve got a noise monster.
These cars are all victims of their own success. The BMW’s frame is so good at noise damping that it became eerie to drive for some enthusiasts. All of the engines run quieter and more efficiently than their gas-guzzling predecessors.
But we’re in this strange transitional period where the tech has outpaced our own preconceptions of power. People still want the roar, even though cars with silent electric motors are going to be beating gas guzzlers out of the blocks as a matter of course in the very near future. You just can’t beat the starting torque of an electric motor (without burning out your clutch).
Our guess is that future generations will look back and laugh. That said, we’re all still taking photos with CMOS sensors that have a speaker attached just to go “click” and the old-timey phone bell ringtone is still going strong. People are funny.
Thanks [Jack Laidlaw] for the tip!