If it’s being faked, would you want to know, or are you better off blissfully unaware?
That’s a question that’s about to enter the automotive world, as a concerning predicament is beginning to take place in the world of luxury performance cars. On one hand, drivers expect an auditory cacophony of engine noise resonating in their chests as they accelerate. On the other hand, many luxury car buyers accept nothing less than a tomb-quiet cabin.
What’s the solution? BMW has one, and frankly, I don’t like it.
If I’m out nearly $100,000 and in possession of a twin-turbo 4.4-liter V8 2012 BMW M5 that churns out 560 horses, I want some raw automotive symphonics accompanying my drive to work in the morning. Evidently, the new M5’s interior was engineered and dampened too well, so engine noise was at a minimum.
Rather than figuring out a way to bring raw, real engine noise to the eardrums of paying customers, BMW’s solution involves a digital signal processor tied to the engine computer that pumps a re-creation of the twin-turbo V8’s engine noise through the stereo system. The system matches the engine’s activity and adjusts its output for the car’s various software-controlled sport driving modes. The result, says BMW, is “an even more direct reminder of their car’s performance” than actual engine noise.
Anyone else repeatedly slapping palm to forehead? Is driving nothing more now than a glorified video game?
Fake engine noise is wrong on so many levels. First of all, the M5 is supposed to be a flat-out performance machine. BMW has built its brand on performance and all the sensory inputs that performance creates. Drivers of an M5 want to feel the car pull away at acceleration, hear the car churn through the gears as the throttle opens and smell the beautiful scent of freshly burnt rubber.
Faking the sound of the engine can only lead to more faking. Fake new leather smell? Sure. Fake sound of squealing tires? Why not. In fact, maybe the sound of an M5 engine can be retro-fitted to any regular 5 Series. Or even 3 Series. Or, heck, any run-of-the-mill used Impala. Or, to take things further, maybe the inside of future car windows can turn to re-creations of arctic scenes along with blasts of cold air in the summer and tropical scenes accompanied by warm breezes in the winter.
As technology like this continues to invade our cars, they are becoming more and more like simulators of ideal driving experiences. I’ll take the real thing, thanks, and hit DealFinder for a proper used M5 when I’m in the market. One that makes its own noise.
I’m disappointed that BMW would go to the extreme of faking engine noise. Are you?