New cars with fake engine sounds

A phrase I picked up a long time ago, specifically in reference to how the completely absurd things Mad magazine proposed had a tendency to manifest in the marketplace, is “blindsided by reality” or BBR.

Some of you might remember Mad proposing some interesting automotive tech, in the era of shrinking cars and engines, using a sound system and speakers to mask the sound of a wimpy smog-era motor with the recorded roar of a musclecar mill. Pretty funny.

Now, I know that makers have spent millions in recent decades to “tune” the sound of engines and give them desirable rumble and roar and thump. (Probably drawing on their great expertise at tuning car door slams to sound heavy and chunky.) Even Porsche uses “sound tubes” to couple the good parts of their increasingly quiet engine sound to the passenger space, producing a satisfying power-rumble for the driver and his goshwalloped passenger. Exhaust systems are of course so tuned - many cars could be much quieter, and “luxury” and “economy” cars are because that appeals to those buyers.

Buy stick an R or an S or a GT or a MUSTANG on the side, and it has to sound like a Hemi 'Cuda. So away goes all the tuning efforts to make a small, quiet, efficient engine sound like something from a coastal freighter. No big surprise there. (Hey, it’s all just marketing.)

(And that was always one of the Viper’s big problems: it had a monster V-10, but V-10s in general and the funny firing order Dodge chose for theirs gave it a weird, high, almost wimpy-sounding exhaust note, and there never was a good fix for it.)

But now… strap on your BBR armor. Ford and other makers are now using the car’s sound system to play engine enhancement sounds, so that the driver and passengers hear a much more solid, satisfying rumbly-roar than do passed-bys. It’s all keyed to the engine control computer and perfectly in sync with RPM and load, and fills in and sweetens the ‘weak’ natural engine sound that represents efficiency and compliance with sound laws.

So when you climb into that 2015 GT and take it for a drive, got-dam does it sound incredible. From the inside. From the sound system.

“Auto tune” used to mean something else in the car world. :smiley:

There’s a few new cars that play the sounds through external speakers so we all can enjoy.

Let me guess: You can’t disable it.

I don’t know who said it, but, “I don’t want to live on this planet anymore”.

I think it was one of the car-toon mags of the 1970s (like Autobuff, which gawdelpme I wrote for, or the original CarToons) That showed the next generation of kit bodies for VW chassis. One was a Hemi 'Cuda… and the main feature was four huge woofers on the underside to play the 426 cubic inch theme song over the whine of the Volksie 4.

“BBR” always conjures that image from Office Space, where Tom backs out of his driveway.


One of the first things that occurred to me was, how does a mechanic hear anything useful? I’d bet there’s a service mode, or that it can be disabled from the OBD port or something. But as its very existence is semi-secret, and its actual implementation and technology is absolutely black, I doubt there’s a driver-side switch for it.

Yeah. I went out and peeked at my summer car and felt a lot better, though. My entirely genuine engine note will blow a 2015 Mustang sideways.

Ok- The cars are “tuned” to make the optimal rumble at the hwy speed limit and goes “wimpy” when the driver speeds… The speed limit signs have a beam that tunes the car to that speed – would that keep the driver within the speed limits??
(excuse the mumble - headache)

I’ve often thought that an engine sound simulator would be a great accessory for an electric car. You’re waiting at the light, and you hear a heavy bass rumble pulling up beside you, and you look, and it’s a guy in a Nissan Leaf. Grinning.

Or better yet, sync it to your Tesla in Insane Mode. :smiley:

I would love it if electric cars sounded like the Jetson’s car. Or the Flintstone’s. So many possibilities!

The Ford ESE system doesn’t “invent” new engine sounds out of whole cloth. It’s only on the Ecoboost 2.3, and what it essentially does is use the audio speakers to selectively suppress and/or enhance the fundamental engine note and its harmonics. Basically all it can do is make a 4 cylinder sound less unpleasant.

Wrong. The GT does not use electronic ESE. It has a tuned acoustic tube running from the air intake duct and plumbed through the firewall. It’s real engine sound, though it’s the sound of the intake valves opening. since they open with the same pattern as the exhaust valves, it sounds the same. The GT has had this tube since 2010MY.

I’d really rather they take this a few steps farther. How about we make cars & motorcycles where only the occupants hear the throaty roar and nobody else has to listen to it.

Why yes, I do live near an area where lots of people demonstrate their noise-enhanced cars, pickups, & Harleys every day.

I have protested against engine sounds ever since my friends had glass packs put into their pickup trucks in the 1980’s. THAT IS NOT THE SOUND OF POWER! It is the sound of inferior powertrain engineering combined with lack of sophisticated sound suppression. The only reason that early muscle cars made that sound is because they couldn’t do any better at the time. The engines were not powerful at all by today’s standards and lots of completely plebeian and quiet passenger sedans today can destroy them in all ways including every performance measure. Modern sports cars like the higher model Corvettes don’t need to prove anything by using sound gimmicks because they are true supercars that can destroy even the exotics from just a few years ago.

I have said it before and I will say it again, it is very easy to make a very loud, mediocre engine. All you have to do is start knocking exhaust components off. I did it once inadvertently when I drove my mother’s 1980’s era Chevy Chevette over a speed bump too fast once in high school. After the muffler fell off, it was loud all right but more shitty than ever (if that is even possible). That type of thing shouldn’t be anyone’s goal.

The real trick is making a very powerful engine that is as smooth and quiet as possible. That takes actual skill and is something to be admired when done correctly and most people with any sense do appreciate a quiet, smooth ride with previously unimaginable amounts of power. However, we also have nostalgic, delusional Baby Boomers who got their ideas about proper engine sounds from 1965 and haven’t adjusted them since.

and what you’ve posted here is the sound of horseshit.

Bull. quiet mufflers were widely used in the muscle car era. every non-muscle car had them regardless of the number of cylinders. I replaced the factory mufflers on my Mustang GT with (loud-ish) Flowmaster mufflers, did the powertrain somehow become “inferior engineered” just because I like the sound of the new mufflers?

which has what to do with sound?

all engines are inherently loud. there isn’t a whole lot of difference in the way modern quiet exhaust systems are designed vs. what was done 50 years ago (except modern systems don’t rust out in a year.)

I’m not sure when you were appointed to define what a “proper” engine sound is. Again, take my Mustang as an example. For a lot of people interested in them, the burble/roar of a cross-plane V8 is its “proper” sound. For people who like a Bavarian flavor, the mellow singing of a high-revving inline 6 is music to their ears.

There is no more “skill” or “engineering” needed to make a high performance car quiet. The reality is that people who want a performance car also want the sound of a performance car.

so, in short, if you want an absolutely silent car, there’s a company called Tesla who will be more than happy to sell you one.

Which in no way contradicts what I wrote. Read it again - the paragraph you quoted.

As you refer to “my Mustang” later, I see I may have stepped on some long, tender toes. My '68 coupe apologizes. My '65 Cobra looks at its feet and mumbles. Me, I kind of think of putting a tuned engine-sound tube in either one and kinda chuckle. :smiley:

you were wrong. I corrected you. trying to turn that back around on me isn’t going to go anywhere.

Got to agree… AB was wrong, unless you can find a 4 cylinder Eco Boost GT. So what if there is a tube. It is the real engine you are hearing.

Missed the edit window.

Also… your 306 HP Shelby is somehow laughing at the stock 2015 435 HP GT?

Don’t get me wrong… your '65 is a really cool car and I would love to have one, but it really can’t compete with a modern version of even the stock GT (let alone a new Shelby). The reason your car sounds like it does is because of the Glass Packs which Shagnasty seems to think is cheating somehow.

You just know there’s going to be a huge aftermarket in automotive “ring tones”.

And your Mustang GT is complete shit compared to an average sedan today let alone the real performance cars. It is stylish in a nostalgic kind of way but can it beat a modern Toyota Camry let let alone a top tier modern Corvette in any contest including a straight line? Of course it can’t. What is the point of all that noise pollution? We have moved well beyond that. Making noise for its own sake is the psychological crutch of Harley riders and vintage Mustang enthusiasts. It is irritating to everyone else and unnecessary. The real performance cars are as silent as possible because that takes real skill. You don’t need burning tires and loud engine noise even to go in a straight line as fast as possible. That is wasted energy and proves that that they didn’t know what they were doing during the muscle car era.

Let’s face it, they aren’t true performance vehicles anymore so why do the enthusiasts insist on making as much noise as possible from something that has mediocre performance at best? The real performance cars are ones like the top tier Corvettes and others that are as silent as possible. Modern tires and other alterations changed the game so I do not understand why people still think louder is better. Spare everyone please. Think smooth…no matter what your redneck friends tell you. That is the true nature of the game.

Yes easily.

All stats courtesy of Car and Driver:

2015 Mustang GT - 0-60 4.5
2015 Camry - 0-60 5.8

Mustang 0-140 21.5
Camry 0-140… well, it doesn’t even get there, but it will get to 120 a tenth of a second later than when the Mustang is going 20 mph faster. It tops out at 126. The Mustang has a limiter to stop it at 164.

Oh yeah… test notes on the Camry: During launches, careful throttle modulation is needed to keep excessive wheelspin at bay. Even in manual mode, trans upshifts on its own at redline.

Do you think the Porsche 911 isn’t a performance car? Here is an explanation of how they and others use the same “tube” sound enhancement (from 2012).

I don’t think you’re comparing what he was comparing.