In Cars, Silence Can be Golden


The electric performance car may be more exciting than its petrol powered rival, writes Matt Calvitto

I probably should start this piece with a bit of a health and safety warning: I do not condone drag racing, speeding or any untoward driving on public roads and all road users should obey the law at all times.

Now, with that out of the way, let’s move on to the topic of discussion: electric versus petrol performance cars. If you’re an avid reader, you may recall that a little while ago I tested the Tesla Model S P85+. If you don’t, you can read the full review here.

The Tesla deeply impressed many people (myself included) in many ways: its space age technology, the comfort, the styling, its range and its supercar performance and it demonstrates that electric cars do not have to be dull econoboxes. Yet there was one area where people couldn’t agree-that a car with performance of such epic proportions should not be silent. I tend to disagree with this mind set.

Let’s look at a petrol powered performance car-Volvo V60 Polestar for the purposes of this debate. It can also be substituted any Mercedes-Benz AMG, BMW M or any other of your favourite shouty performance cars.

The Volvo shares a number of similarities with the Tesla: it’s very good looking, practical, seats five in comfort and can devour the hallowed 0 to 100 dash in around five seconds, which means it’s very fast.

The turbocharged straight-six engine that is responsible for such a turn of speed also sounds spine tingling. You can have a listen to it here.

Engineers work tirelessly to ensure their cars have a distinct sound. AMGs have a deep rumble and the Volvo disperses a mechanical symphony of induction and turbo noise along with an angry bark and the odd farting noise. It is this sound track that highlights one of the many wonders of the internal combustion engine.

A honed and perfected engine note is exciting and stirs the soul.

Electric cars don’t do this. Simply put it in “D” and go. No noise. No gear shift paddles. Nothing. Sounds boring? Well, although electric performance cars aren’t widespread yet, the Tesla largely carries this flag alone for now, but it does demonstrate that an absence of noise can make for an even more exciting driving experience.

Here’s why: when driving enthusiastically in a brisk electric car, your senses become heightened. The speed creeps up on you, you become more wary of the scenery outside increasingly becoming more blurred and eventually the g-forces will push back into your seat and before you know it, you’ll be grinning from ear to ear. It is this, I feel at least is a novel way of making the art of driving even more enjoyable.

It is this “surprise factor” that wins it slightly for me, I don’t mind enjoying the silence. But I could be wrong. What do you think?

The founding father of The Motoring Guru, Matt has been a lifelong car enthusiast and a passionate writer. Back in 2013 when The Motoring Guru was first launched, Matt wanted to combine his two passions whilst offering readers sound motoring advice.