Thursday, January 26, 2012

Tech: Name That Engine Exhaust Sound

V12 engine of a Lamborghini.

Vroom, Vroom!  The familiar rumble of a modified car starting up or revving its engine will usually turn a few heads in the direction of the sound.  For many car enthusiasts, adding a freer flowing exhaust is one way to increase the joy of driving their vehicle.  Being able to hear the exhaust note of the engine helps to facilitate the sensation of sportiness in a vehicle, and to some drivers it is enough to take the place of their radio on drives through back country roads.  Cars come in all sorts of engine configurations, displacement and in either turbocharged, supercharged, or naturally aspirated guise.  In the city you have most likely heard inline 4 cylinders, V6 engines and V8 engines on the road, but some of the other popular configurations are the rotary (Wankel), flat 4 and 6 engines, and inline 6 cylinder engines. 

While every enthusiast will have a different preference to their favorite exhaust note, compiled below are the exhaust notes of different engines.  Not every single type will be represented, but it will just give you an idea of what each sound like, so the next time you hear a car rolling down the street, you can have a general notion of what it is. We will start with the lowest cylinder count and work our way up.  We hope you will enjoy and appreciate each engine type for what it is. 

This is a 3 cylinder engine, usually used in small (kei) cars in Japan, but it was featured in the Geo Metro and Smart Fortwo here in the U.S.  This video features a Suzuki Cappucino turbo. 

This is a naturally aspirated inline 4 cylinder engine.  It is probably the most commonly used engine configuration in passenger cars today.  Honda Civics, Peugeot 207s, Lotus Elises and Miatas are popular cars which use this type of engine.  The video is of a Honda S2000.

Supercharged inline 4 cylinders can be found in cars such as the Lotus Elise, Toyota MR2, and Chevrolet Cobalt SS.  This video is of a Cobalt SS.

The next exhaust featured is an inline 4 cylinder turbo.  Europe and Japan have many cars with this setup, and the U.S. is beginning to offer plenty too.  Many World Rally Championship (WRC) cars use this engine configuration.  The featured car is a Volkswagen Golf GTI turbo.

This video will show a turbo 2 rotor engine.  Mazda has used the rotary engine the most, particularly with its RX series of cars.  The car is a Mazda RX-7.

Our next video is of a turbo inline 5 cylinder engine.  These engines were used by Audi in their quattro rally car for the infamous Group B rally series.  Notable cars with this engine configuration are the Audi TT RS, Ford Focus RS, and Volvo S60R.  This video is of a Volvo 850 turbo. 

The turbocharged inline 6 cylinder engine is up next.  These engines were most famous during the 90s power wars with the Nissan Skyline, Toyota Supra, Toyota Chaser/Mark II/Cresta, and Nissan Laurel/Cefiro making use of the engine configuration.  BMW has recently switched to this platform too.  The car in the video is a Datsun 280ZX turbo.

The naturally aspirated inline 6 cylinder is probably most associated with BMW's E36 and E46 M3, and Nissan's older Fairlady Z and Nissan Skyline GT-R (Hakosukas).  The car in the video is a BMW M3.

Naturally aspirated V6 power plants are the most popular of the 6 cylinder variants.  These engines are commonly used in the midsized sedan, minivan, and entry level luxury cars such as the Toyota Camry, Cadillac CTS, Mercedes C class, and Dodge Grand Caravan.  They have also been used in sports cars like the Honda NSX (Acura in the U.S.), Nissan 370Z, Renault Clio, and Volkswagen GTI.  The vehicle in the video is an Infiniti G35. 

Turbo V6 engines were used by popular cars such as the Nissan 300zx, Buick Grand National, Nissan GT-R (R35), Mitsubishi GTO (3000GT in U.S.), and Alfa Romeo 164 and GTV.  This video is of a 3000GT.

Supercharged V6 engines can be found in several domestic models like the Buick Regal, Pontiac Grand Prix, and Audi A6.  The Buick Regal GS is in the video below.

Non turbo flat 4 cylinder engines aka Boxer engines are most popular with the aircooled Volkswagen cars, and Subarus.  This video is of an older Volkswagen Beetle.

Turbocharged flat 4 engines are primarily used by Subaru, who won several rally championships with the late Collin McRae.  The video is of a Subaru Impreza STi.

Flat 6 engines are used by a multitude of Porches and in Subaru's Tribeca.  This clip is of a non turbo Porsche Carrera 993. 

Turbo flat 6 engines are primarily found in the Porche GT2, 911 turbo, and other Porches.  This video is of a Porsche GT2. 

Moving on, we have naturally aspirated V8s.  These are popular engines with trucks and North American sports cars, although more manufacturers around the world are using V8 engines.  This video is of a Chevrolet Corvette Z06.

Supercharged V8 engines are being used on more and more super car applications.  A few that come to mind are the Ford GT, Cadillac CTS-V, Chevrolet ZR-1, Vauxhall VXR8, and Koenigsegg CCX.  The video has the exhaust sound of a Koenigsegg CCX.

V8 engines that are factory turbocharged can be found in cars such as the Saleen S7, BMW M5, Lotus Esprit, Ferrari F40, and Bentley Continental.  Here is a sound clip of a Ferrari F40. 

V10 engines are used in exotic cars, and you will find these engines in cars such as the Lamborghini Gallardo, Dodge Viper, Audi R8, Lexus LFA, and Porsche Carrera GT.  This example is of a Porsche Carrera GT.

We move onto the V12 engines.  These engines are mostly found in super cars and older exotics like the Jaguar E-type, Aston Martin DBS, Ferrari F50, McLaren F1, Lamborghini Murcielago, Ferrari 275, and Pagoni Zonda.  The video below is an Aston Martin Vantage.

Finally we have the W16 engine, found in the Bugatti Veyron. 

This wraps up our compilation of car exhaust sounds.  We may make another down the road someday as not all cars with the same type of engine will sound like the ones in the videos.  What is your favorite engine?  Do you have a preference for naturally aspirated engines or forced induction?  Happy motoring and keep on driving!

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