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Beyond sensual sheetmetal and generous performance envelopes, traditionally one of the best things about exotic supercars has been their melliflous engine rumblings and sonorous exhaust notes. For many a gearhead, the piercing shriek of a fine Italian V-12 is auditory mechanized sex.

But the importance of the sounds that a vehicle makes - be it an engine's song, tire thrum, or wind noise has become increasingly critical as manufacturers look to further distinguish their vehicles from competitors.

MSNBC's Roland Jones examines the growing importance of 'sound engineering' in the modern automobile, and how automakers are going to great lengths to create compelling sonic experiences.

What do you think... how important is the way a vehicle sounds in determining how you feel about it?  Make a bit of noise yourself by leaving a note in the 'Comments.'

[Sources: MSNBC; Autodrome-Cannes.com]



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  • 18 Comments
      • 9 Years Ago
      I have a custom exhaust on my '86 MR2, and it makes quite the difference. At high revs, it absolutely howls without any of the "farty" noises you hear on so many 4-cyl. today. I just love driving through tunnels. :)

      However, unless the windows are down, it does get sort of loud when you have to sit in the car for more than an hour.
      • 9 Years Ago
      This goes for all cars, even econo-sleds. I rented a Cobalt a few months back and to my surprise I was impressed and thought the car was pretty good at it's purpose, i.e., cheap transportation. But even if I were in the market for such a car, I would never buy a Cobalt. Why? The exhaust made the car sound cheap and wheezy, even though it really wasn't a wheezy or overtly cheap feeling car. That sound just sucked.
      • 9 Years Ago
      I don't understand the fascination with car noise. I prefer a car that makes no noise. The quieter a car is the less you have to adjust the volume of the radio, as well as it being easier to talk to people and will increase your ability to hear emergency vehicles.
      • 9 Years Ago
      Sound is very important. Just try watching a movie or do anything else while muted.

      I love the sound of the Nissan VQ35 in the 350Z, FX, Altima. It makes a smooth growl, at just the right note. Nothing harsh like a Jaguar or Aston Martin.
      • 9 Years Ago
      I love the sound the 350Z and G35 make. They just sound cool. My friend's friend got a brand new 05 Mustang and put a Borla exhaust system on it. Talk about loud. But it was amazing...

      I wanna get a nice sounding exhaust system for my Buick but if you ever heard a 3.8 liter V-6, you would know those things sound like crap...
      • 9 Years Ago
      When I drove a 2005 Boxster, I was disappointed by the lack of mechanical noise and prevalence of a garden-variety deep exhaust note. The characteristic sound of a Porsche flat six was barely present.

      More recently I drove the Cayman. Problem fixed. In the coupe there's no doubt you've got a flat six right behind the bulkhead.

      At the other end of the spectrum, many inexpensive cars unnecessarily sound awful. I took a Yaris for a spin today. Very buzzy. Even worse because the lack of a tach gave me no clue as to how hard the engine was working.
      • 9 Years Ago
      i would say the rise of infiniti (especially g35's and fx's) can be partly attributed to their aggressive exhaust noise. they're the ones to really pay attention to exhaust noise on sedans. most car companies just want to keep it quiet.
      • 9 Years Ago
      When I took out the G35 last week, oh God, I knew I loved the car's exhaust and engine notes. This car is made in Japan, yet, the sound that comes out says "I will kick ass". People turn to watch the car when you rev it. I know, I did it down the Halifax street many times during my test drive. And it goes like hell.

      Stoneman
      • 9 Years Ago
      Okay a silly story here. Once I bought a new R-5 Renault Le Car. This actually was a very good little car for me but not really exciting. The exhaust went bad and I bought a specialty exhaust system with a sort of sports car sound. The fun quotient for this little car increased 100% and extended my ownership.
      • 9 Years Ago
      The V-10 in the Muceilago(sp) is just wonderful to hear. I don't know that I would ever use a radio if I had that to listen to daily.

      I loved the sound of my old 93 CBR 600, of course the speed helped a bunch.
      • 9 Years Ago
      The sound of the car/truck is very important as long as it does not interfere with performance. If you can gain 10hp by cutting off the catalytic converter then I say go for it.
      • 9 Years Ago
      This is so important, especially at the upper end of the sports car ranks. Part of defining a vehicle as a must-have or just a nice car. The shreik of a Carrera GT or the "ripping silk" roar of a Ferrari V-8 vs. the dead blat of a Viper or the whiny, booming of Ford GT's supercharged mill help make the former two cars exotic and sinful and the latter two merely fast musclecars.
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