It’s easy to judge a car by the specs alone, but Jalopnik readers know how a dull exhaust can dampen the whole experience.
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Sound is quite important for the car experience. Give something a fantastic engine note and you’ll be ready to forgive any other flaws. Just look at Alfa Romeo. Inversely, take away the sound completely and you see just how important car noise can be. The Tesla Model S wouldn’t feel half as fast if its acceleration wasn’t accompanied by nothing more than a faint warp drive whirr.
Many carmakers understand that sound is a huge part of the driving experience, and is a big reason why people fall in love with cars. Ferrari is probably the master of this game.
With only ten entries on this list, we had to cut out a number of honorable mentions. What disappointing exhaust notes did we leave off? More importantly, what custom exhausts fix the stock sounds featured here? We’re sure you can find some Akrapovic awesomeness, so post it in Kinja below.
Photo Credit: newelly54
With so many concerns about fuel economy and greenhouse emissions, it’s a wonder we still have V8 pony cars at all, so we shouldn’t really complain about the Camaro. That said, put it next to a vintage GM motor, or even a modern AMG and the LS3/L99 just doesn’t sound very V8-ey.
Suggested By: KroK13
It may be a joy to drive, but it doesn’t sound like anything special, even when you rev the nuts off of it.
Suggested By: blackchair
Okay, we sort of get that a car named after a god of wind should embrace the whooshing, airy noise of twin turbos. Somehow, we just want more of a deep, unmuted backing note for something so big and powerful.
Suggested By: GTRB26
Jalopnik readers have doled out a lot of hate for the Subaru boxer burble, but at least Scoobies sound like something, unlike the Roomba-down-a-flight-of-stairs exhaust noise of the Evo. This isn’t just a four-cylinder hate fest, because vintage racing I4s like Indy Offenhausers can sound AMAZING.
Suggested By: Yield2no1
Unlike many car collectors of the early ‘90s, we love the engine in the Jaguar XJ200. It’s the old Metro 6R4 mill from the mad Group B rally days, and it has truly hilarious turbo lag. Much as that’s fun to play with at super high speed, it just doesn’t sound like anything at all.
Suggested By: EssExTee
The GT-R is constantly facing criticism that it’s lacking in character in how it drives. Certainly the lack of a shrieking exhaust note, or even a thundering deep one like the V8 GT-R race cars, plays a big part in cultivating this image.
Suggested By: Viperfan1
You don’t really expect the turbocharged V6 in the Nissan to sound special. When a bright orange lotus shoots past you on the Pacific Coast Highway or somewhere scenic, you do expect it to howl with a bit of character. Instead it sounds like the Toyota motor it has.
Suggested By: jbh
We shouldn’t hate on unusual engines. There are enough plain-sounding V8s and straight sixes out there, so we encourage automakers to do V10s and W8s and whatever else the engineering department comes up with. That all being said, the first Viper with side pipes just sounded like a muffled straight five and not in a good way.
Suggested By: The Scrambler says it can be done
Not only does the new twin-turbo V8 not sound as wild as its predecessor’s wailing V10, but it’s so quiet that BMW plays fake engine noise over the stereo. We’re giving extra demerits for that.
Suggested By: ZiptieMcBumper
The once-fastest car in the world with an eight liter W16 and roundabout a thousand horsepower should have sounded like all the volcanoes on the world were erupting at once. Instead, quad-turbochargers made it sound like some kind of plumbing and get drowned out by the lowest-rung Ferraris.
Suggested By: Shane Elliott