What Car Has The Most Distinctive Engine Sound? | Carscoops

We want to know which cars you can identify before you can even see them

by Chris Chilton

February 19, 2023 at 14:29

 What Car Has The Most Distinctive Engine Sound?

by Chris Chilton

Car designers spend their lives trying to make their vehicles distinctive, giving them an identity that will ensure you’ll never confuse them with a rival product. Unique grilles, and more recently, thanks to LED lighting technology, unique headlight and taillight telltales, allow even the most casual car fan to easily distinguish a Volvo from a Mercedes, day and night.

But there are plenty of other ways to identify cars without using our eyes. Some automakers employ engineers just to develop a signature smell for their cars, and some cars sound so distinctive we can identify them long before we can see them.

That skill is one to use sparingly, though. Announcing to a bunch of friends that an air-cooled Porsche 911, an E46 BMW M3 or vintage Mini Cooper is about to round the curve 10 seconds before it’s come into view might make you look like some kind of automotive Nostradamus if those people aren’t into cars, but probably won’t make you look like second-date material if you make the mistake of showing your superpower off on date one.

More: Angry Neighbor Allegedly Uses Expanding Foam To Silence Mustang’s Noisy Exhaust

Fortunately for our dating options, that trick’s becoming harder to pull off. At the same time as the lighting advances we mentioned at the beginning were making it easier for designers to create clearly recognizable cars, a shrinking powertrain gene pool and tightening noise regulations began making it harder to identify a passing car by the way it sounds.

It’s definitely harder to identify modern cars from one another because so many have moved to inline four-cylinder engines with noise-muffling turbochargers, though it’s still possible on performance cars, especially more expensive ones that are still equipped with more than four pistons. And ironically, the switch to EVs gives automakers the opportunity to reclaim their sonic character, though in most cases those sounds will be artificial.

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So which car from the past do you think has the most distinctive engine sound, and which of the cars currently on sale do you still find easy to identify with your eyes closed?

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