For a lot of electric car buyers, the idea of having the biggest noise source taken out of the equation is an appealing prospect. However, car manufacturers are having to add back in some of what’s been lost.
For the sake of pedestrian safety, a lot of countries legislate the use of external speakers on EVs. On the inside meanwhile, many manufacturers are piping stuff in through the sound system to give useful feedback to the driver. As for how this is created, there have been some radically different schools of thought. The Porsche Taycan uses an augmented recording of the motor spinning away, while the Audi E-Tron GT uses the combination of no less than 32 samples including a remote control helicopter and an electric screwdriver. Yes, really.
BMW, meanwhile, has come up with a very different solution for the i4 and iX – it gave film composer Hans Zimmer (below right) a call. And no, this doesn’t mean the car will sound like a church organ exploding every time you put your foot down.
The 63-year-old German, best known for his bombastic soundtracks to Christopher Nolan films including Interstellar and The Dark Knight trilogy, worked together with BMW Creative Sound Director Renzo Vitale on ‘IconicSounds Electric’. “For the electrically driven BMW M models we have developed a driving sound which accentuates their emotional driving experience particularly vividly and ensures their performance can be felt with even greater intensity,” Zimmer says.
Driving around normally in Comfort mode, i4 and iX drivers will be treated to an “immersive and pleasant atmosphere,” BMW claims. Switch to Sport, and the noise becomes “dominant and powerful” while “providing a constant commentary on the driving situation”. In Eco Pro, you won’t hear anything at all.
The sound in question, which is heard towards the end of the above clip, is closer to the UFO-like noise made by the Jaguar I-Pace than the Audi E-Tron GT’s sample cocktail. What you’re listening to is the noise made by the M versions of the i4 and iX, which will be slightly different to what you hear in the regular models.
The system will be standard across the iX and optional on the i4, installed in models built “over the course of 2022”. For any customers that miss the boat, it’ll be possible to retrospectively add IconicSounds via an over-the-air update.
What do you think of the noise?