Top 10 Cars With the Best-Sounding Engines
It’s hard to beat the noises a well-designed, high-performance engine makes; experiencing this is of life’s great pleasures, especially when it isn’t adulterated by restrictive exhaust systems or synthesized bullshit piped through a vehicle’s speakers.
Rapidly oxidizing massive quantities of fossil fuel can make sounds that rival a great symphony orchestra. Who would have thought an exothermic reaction could be so pleasing to the ears?
Accordingly here are 10 beautiful-sounding production cars that will take you to internal-combustion nirvana and no, they’re not all ridiculously expensive exotics. There are actually some reasonably priced vehicles with wonderful voices. Enjoy these cars and trucks while you still can before EVs take over the world.
Fiat’s spunky 500 Abarth may not be the fastest or best-driving performance car on the market today but it sure knows how to bark like a starving hound. This suppository-shaped Italian hatch may lack the pedigree of its countrymen like Ferrari and Lamborghini but it’s earned a special place in our collective AutoGuide.com hearts.
Powered by petite 1.4-liter four-banger this turbocharged wonder delivers 160 hp and 170 lb-ft of torque along with an exhaust that pops and farts like a giant bowl of flatulent Rice Crispies. What’s not to love?
Not to be outdone by its continental competitor, the folks at MINI have cooked up a raucous little brawler in the form of their JCW Convertible. This street-legal go-kart provides an addicting on-road experience and an even more habit-forming exhaust note that exudes buckets of character and is guaranteed to annoy your neighbors.
Providing giddy-up is a 1.6-liter turbo-four. It’s endowed with a 208 sturdy horses and 192 lb-ft of torque in normal driving. A special over-boost feature allows you to access 207 units of twist in short bursts. With a manual transmission the dash to 60 miles an hour takes a fleet 6.6 seconds.
Doubling cylinder count, we shift gears from small front-wheel-drive cars to a full-size pickup. Toyota’s Tundra TRD Pro is a dressed-up truck that’s ready to tackle a trail near you. Functional upgrades include skid plates, Bilstein shock absorbers, unique front springs and more. These upgrades are in addition to numerous cosmetic tweaks as well.
SEE ALSO: 2015 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro Review
The Tundra is powered by a 5.7-liter V8 engine that develops 381 hp and 401 lb-ft of juicy torque. With a special dual exhaust system this big ol’ two-by-four rumbles and burbles like a muscle car from Detroit’s glory days. Our own in-house truck aficionado Steve Elmer calls it “glorious.”
What’s interesting about the Porsche 911 Turbo S is that its engine doesn’t sound like much but we still absolutely LOVE it. Here’s what we mean. The car doesn’t rumble, burble or scream like other gasoline-burning powerplants. Instead, these traditional mechanical noises are replaced by a gigantic whooshing sound when the accelerator is prodded; the noise is not unlike an F5 tornado.
There’s a small amount of boxer grumble but this car’s dominant acoustic element brings to mind a Boeing 777 at takeoff instead of a top-fuel dragster. Output measures 560 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque from a 3.8-liter flat-six. Zero to 60 takes just 2.9 seconds. Maybe that’s why we love this car so much …
With a burly V8 up front, rear-wheel drive and an available seven-speed manual transmission this car is more entertaining than a drunken night in an Eastern-European brothel, though probably less contagious.
The Vette’s 6.2-liter LT1 not-so-small-block puts down 455 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque, figures that result in predictably astonishing acceleration. The zero-to-60 sprint takes just 3.8 seconds. Its available dual-mode exhaust is absolutely sonorous!
Like the Corvette, Jaguar’s new F-Type Coupe is a sports car done right. This kitty is beautifully designed inside and out and its performance pushes all the right buttons, especially in R guise. But looking the part will only get you so far, you’ve got to back it up with substance.
Accordingly, this car features a thundering 5.0-liter V8 that’s augmented by a belt-driven atmosphere multiplier. The mechanical respirator helps it put out 550 hp and 502 lb-ft of torque, almost 100 more ponies than the frighteningly fast Vette.
SEE ALSO: 2015 Jaguar F-Type R Coupe Review
The F-Type R Coupe looks right and knows how to dance but it can also sing. She’s a triple-threat! The exhaust burbles and rumbles, pops and snorts like artillery going off in the distance. Put it in Dynamic Mode and the car is magically uncorked and you wonder, “Did I just get transferred to the front line?” Even lesser models with the supercharged V6 engine are shockingly loud.
This is one of the coolest-looking cars on the market today, full stop. With a hood that stretches out for miles, a truncated deck-lid and, of course, iconic gull-wing doors the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT Coupe is a supercar unlike any other.
Powered by a hand-built 6.3-liter (or 6.2 depending on how you count) V8 engine this mechanical masterpiece is endowed with 583 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque. Top speed is a whisker less than two-bills and the sprint to 60 miles an hour can be accomplished in just 3.6 seconds. And then there’s the sound, a deep-throated rumble. The exhaust note has more Bass than a tuner car with a trunk full of subwoofers. It’s loud, raw and arousing.
Take a moment to peruse these specs: 5.5-liters, 14-to-1 compression, 9,000-RPM redline, 398 lb-ft, 597 hp. The 458 Speciale’s Formula 1-grade engine is Ferrari’s most powerful naturally aspirated V8 ever. This thing is essentially a racecar you can commute to work in.
Direct fuel injection, trumpet-shaped vertical intake stacks and the all-important flat-plane crankshaft contribute to this engine’s WAILING exhaust note. Where the preceding SLS AMG rumbles Ferrari’s 458 Speciale screams.
Now we’re talking. Any plebian can snag an eight-cylinder engine but only true gentlemen can obtain something with a dozen pots.
The Aston Martin Vanquish Volante is motivated by a 6.0-liter V12 that plays beautiful music. Even with sport mode engaged it’s never particularly boisterous, but the song it sings is nothing less than operatic; it’s as melodious as anything you’ll find on the street today.
It’s powerful and refined, too. This car offers 565 bhp, 457 lb-ft of twist and enough smiles to justify its $300,000 price tag. What the Vanquish Volante lacks in outright volume is more than made up for in other areas.
Like the No. 2 Aston Martin this Lamborghini also features a V12 engine. But where its British counterpart is quite well-mannered this Italian exotic sounds like a hoard of demons escaping from Hades.
Checking out at 6.5-liters its powerplant puts out 700 hellacious horses and 509 lb-ft of torque, and man is it loud. The Aventador is a car that’s not afraid to let its voice be heard.
SEE ALSO: 2014 Lamborghini Aventador Review
But it’s not a total brute. The engine has a unique musical quality to it and it sounds a lot like a string instrument, changing chords the faster it spins; it’s absolutely magical and easily one of the most melodious powerplants available on the market today.
Born and raised in metro Detroit, Craig was steeped in mechanics from childhood. He feels as much at home with a wrench or welding gun in his hand as he does behind the wheel or in front of a camera. Putting his Bachelor's Degree in Journalism to good use, he's always pumping out videos, reviews, and features for AutoGuide.com. When the workday is over, he can be found out driving his fully restored 1936 Ford V8 sedan. Craig has covered the automotive industry full time for more than 10 years and is a member of the Automotive Press Association (APA) and Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA).
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