Yesterday, Dodge revealed the Charger Daytona SRT Concept. It’s an incredibly cool design, from the front aero wing back to the 1968 Charger-inspired C-pillar, but the car has one major point of contention within our offices: Its sound.
See, the Daytona concept has something Dodge is calling a “Fratzonic Chambered Exhaust,” designed to amplify the generally quiet experience of EV driving. It’s supposed to hit the same 126 dB as a Hellcat, which rules, but the actual tone of its exhaust note is a bit more questionable. Listen for yourself:
Let me start out by saying I love EV sounds. Attending a Formula E race feels like watching the height of racing in a cyberpunk dystopia (which may not even be untrue), while driving a car like the Kia EV6 suddenly transports you to the bridge of the Enterprise. They sound like the future, something new and exciting that you desperately want to experience. The Daytona concept just sounds like a boardroom.
All I can hear, in the Charger’s exhaust note, is meetings. Discussions over how to create a sound that doesn’t come across as a poor imitation of a Hemi — yet, isn’t so far out there that it drives away longtime fans of the brand. The Fratzonic exhaust exists in this odd middle, this gray area, and just sounds bland.
The tone itself is all mids and treble, too. There’s none of the bass that we associate with big power in muscle cars, none of the v-shaped audio mixing that signifies a high-quality audio experience. Listen to how bass and treble are balanced in something like “800db cloud” by 100 gecs, or even STONEFIST by HEALTH. You really feel those in your chest, they reverberate through your body. The Daytona just lives in your head.
And this sound design can be done for engine notes. Just listen to the sound of the Batmobile in The Batman, and how its mixing creates that ASMR spine-tingling feel. Sure, it’s still coming through a speaker, but so is the Fratzonic tone from the Charger.
At the end of the day, EV sounds are all artificial. Why not lean into that, and craft a sound that has the same visceral, bodily effect as a big V8? The Daytona’s exhaust note sort of sounds like a classic Dodge hemi, but it’s lacking all of the feeling and emotion that come with eight cylinders and a big cam. It’s a missed opportunity.
My arguments here are simple, people. It sounds good. It sounds cool. It’s the best they really could have done given the fact electric motors are pretty much silent. Does it sound as cool as a HEMI 392 or Hellcat motor? Of course not, but it’s still neat as hell. On top of that, it’s also dumb as hell. This is a good thing.
Modern MOPAR muscle cars have always been dumb as hell. No one needs a loud ass V8 with over 700 horsepower. It’s dumb, and so is this. That’s the point! Dumb is good.
You may think to yourself the sound isn’t truthful to what the vehicle is at the end of the day: a naturally silent EV. I ask you this simple question: why are you a fun sucker? Who wronged you to make you hate things that are silly? Have some joy for the love of God.
Have the joy that I did when I heard that dumb little futuristic-V8-ish sound come from a speaker buried somewhere on the Charger Daytona. It brought a smile to my face.
It’s garish and loud, two things EVs aren’t. There’s room for that silliness in a world that’s gotten far too serious.
Thank you, Dodge, for being dumb in the best way possible.
What do you think? Is the Daytona concept’s exhaust note underwhelming, born in a boardroom to die on the vine, or is it an instant smash hit?