Fake exhaust noises on EVs are a controversial new frontier of car modification. Companies like Dodge see it as a way to give EVs audible character, though feedback so far hasn't been positive. Still, Borla has tested the waters with its synthetic exhaust for the Ford Mustang Mach-E, and the public has had its say.
Borla's "active performance sound system" for the Mach-E consists of an exterior speaker hidden underneath the rear bumper, which is connected to a controller on the interior to change volume and sound profile. Those include a variety of V8s, such as Ford's Coyote and Predator engines, Chevrolet's 6.2-liter small-block, and Dodge's 392 Hemi. From a 2022 preview video shared below, we gathered that it'd sound like the real thing. Now that it's out, we also have impressions from customers, and an idea of who this setup is actually for.
"I just put mine on my '23 Premium standard. I really like it, especially turning it off or down while on freeway or long distance," wrote Reddit user Sea_Leather_5468.
"One of the things I like is that I have complete control over the type of sound and the volume. With my Saleen Mustang, my neighbors would know when I came home at night because they could hear my car. Not with this. Also, I'm not stuck with always the same sound," said MachEForum.com user Nemshick_s. They shared videos of the various mock V8 noises, which sound tinny compared to a real V8. That's not the reason for the negative feedback they've received though, which has come both from their friends and fellow EV owners.
"I have been getting varying responses from my friends. Some get, it some don't. I like it because the low-speed sound tends to get ignored by pedestrians," they continued.
"No offense, but I think this is the noise pollution equivalent of rolling coal," said a reply from user Ghost Ryder, whose dozens of likes show how widely held the viewpoint is. "I'm all for blasting out your ear drums with internal speakers, but don't bother your neighbors if there is an option. How does that bring you more enjoyment?"
It seems these fake exhausts are more than divisive; they're polarizing. On one hand, you've got people who are excited to make noise regardless of whether said noise fits the car it's coming from. One imagines these are the same people who ride Harley-Davidsons, or rev their straight-piped cars in traffic.
On the other extreme is a group that's less fond of synthetic noises, of the sort that have become increasingly common in modern vehicles. Plenty of modern performance pipe fake exhaust sounds into their cabins, while a few have faked brawnier sounds with speakers in their exhausts—like the BMW i8 or some Audi diesels. To them, faking an exhaust is like installing a turbo whistle, or more literally, like blasting a fake V8 sound over a four-cylinder engine.
It's hard not to see things the latter way when you consider why the speakers are aimed outward in the first place. If an EV's driver wants to hear a V8, they can just install the sound unit in their interior for their own enjoyment. But clearly, the point is to have everyone else hear the engine they don't have. It's attention-seeking of the kind that already gives enthusiasts a bad rep in the public eye, and it's hard to see noisy EVs doing anything but making that problem worse.
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