When we drove the 2012 M5 on a frozen lake we felt the Bavarian stormer was great but a little disappointing in its engine sounds. BMW's fix: a new piece of technology that pumps synthetic engine noise into the cabin. Is it better to know someone's faking in advance?
While high-end luxury cars have been moving towards tomb-quiet interiors — with many now using noise-cancelling tech to block what little they can't muffle — enthusiasts who buy sedans such as the 560-hp M5 still equate excitement with engine revs. So do authorities in European countries, who've enacted tougher anti-noise regulations that sports car makers struggle to meet.
BMW's solution involves a digital signal processor tied to the engine computer that pumps a recreation of the twin-turbo V8's engine noise through the car's stereo system, spread evenly so that all passengers can enjoy. The system not only matches the engine's activity, but will even adjust 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. No word if it will also sync with the engine if and when it breaks down.
Purists are already saying this tech is a far cry from the true pleasure of performance that BMW is supposed to stand for, but they don't see the opportunities at hand. If the system can synthesize a V8 engine sound, why not let it take other noises as well? BMW could offer a whole buzztone store, from the previous generation V10 to the six-cylinder from the original M1 or even the turbo snarl of a '80s Formula 1 mill. Just selling cars that make their own noise is so last century.
Hat tip to M2M!