Does it Really Matter What a Car Sounds Like?

By Gerald Lynch on at

Anyone that's seen a Formula One race at a track, in person, knows that half the excitement comes from the engine noise. It's ear-splitting, heart-racing stuff. But as any GSCE science student knows, all that sound is wasted energy, an unnecessary by-product of the engine's true purpose which is to push the car forward. So does it really matter what a car sounds like?

It's a point that's been raised by Ford's 2015 Mustang. The classic models in the iconic car line were renowned for their engine's roar, but as the manufacturer moved away from four-cylinder engines, that roar become more of a sedate purr. The 2015 model seemed to have the best of both worlds, powered by an EcoBoost 2.3-litre engine that was as efficient, powerful and noisy as its much-loved predecessors.

Except, as Road & Track's Jason Cammisa discovered, that engine wasn't really as ferocious sounding as it was claiming to be. Ford was instead using the car's speaker system to amplify the engine's sound -- pull the sound system's fuse and the effect changed significantly.

But if the car is more environmentally friendly and fuel efficient thanks to the engine being used, is losing that roar a fair trade to make? It's a struggle that the new Formula E racing championship is facing, with some detractors feeling the cars sound too weedy, detracting from the excitement of the spectator sport.

You can't have it both ways. What's more important: having a car that sounds like a Star Wars Tie Fighter, or a motor that will get you around the world without pumping more rubbish into the atmosphere? [TechTimes]