It’s all in the exhaust, baby

When it comes to driving a car, there are a few things that are needed to make it a truly incredible machine (at least for me, anyway): design, performance and the exhaust note. Now, you may find that combination rather strange, but when you have a car that excels in all three departments, think of what an amazing car that is — not only would it look and feel spectacular rolling down the street but it would sound phenomenal too. And that’s so important.

Sometimes, an exhaust note will make or break a car for me. At the moment I’m driving the brand new 2011 BMW Z4 sDrive35is and what a car it is. I’ve loved the Z4 since I first drove it nearly 3 years ago. This little powerhouse from BMW isn’t just spectacular to look at, but it is so much fun to drive. And that has a great deal to do with the custom-created exhaust note. The clever little engineers at BMW (and they are oh-so clever) engineered an exhaust note for the Z4 that is unlike any other and unique to the model.

It’s deep, guttural bliss when you push your foot on the throttle and I absolutely love it. It will make me grin from ear to ear every time — does your car’s exhaust do that for you?

And that’s why I think exhaust note is so important. It’s another element of your car that can bring you pleasure. Take the XJL for instance; it had this nifty little habit of backfiring whenever I let the revs drop from 2,500 or higher. The spitting, cracking backfire usually made me chuckle out loud and brightened my mood phenomenally — it also garnered even more attention from passersby.

But that small feature (which would normally be associated with an old, falling-to-pieces hunk of junk) sky-rocketed the XJL to new heights in my Like Book.

The Infiniti G series features an exhaust note masterpiece in my opinion. When the G35 was first released the exhaust note that exploded from that car’s rear was beyond anything ever heard before in a stock, just-drove-it-off-the-dealer-lot vehicle. And it sounded incredible — and still does.

Even the rumbling, raw exhaust note of the Mustang GT500 brought a smile to my face because it showed Ford’s want to return to the golden days of old American muscle cars and everything they stood for. The new Mustangs, right down to the tailpipes and the sounds they emit, are a testament to that.

A car’s exhaust note is rather like a person’s voice in the sense that it helps to round out their personality, to characterize what type of person (car) they really are. Would you want your F-150 Raptor to sound like a Honda Fit? I don’t think so.

Often, I think manufacturers neglect the exhaust note, or for money saving reasons just can’t be bothered to consider it, and that’s a shame. I think taking the time to perfect and develop that perfect, purring exhaust note could mean more sales for certain vehicles.

I’m not going to lie, I’m a little bit obsessed with the way cars sound from the rear, and I like to play a little game with myself to see if I can guess which car is coming round the bend based on the sound of its exhaust. I’m usually right 90% of the time. Old-school Hondas, Toyotas and Nissans always give me a hard time, but most cars with an audible exhaust note have distinguishable “songs.”

Subarus are the easiest to spot. Deep, rumbling and aggressive, a Subaru exhaust note is, perhaps, my favourite of all. And no, I’m not just saying that because I own one and get to listen to it all the time. There’s something alluring about the sound being pushed from the tailpipe of an STI or a rally-inspired WRX — yum.

I could go on and on (obviously) about this topic, and some of you might think I’m quite mad for doing so. But, oh faithful reader, am I really that crazy? Would you buy a TV that had a tinny, rattling sound or a radio that had static all the time?

For your aural pleasure (and mine!):

And just to change the subject a bit (because I’m sure you’re all sick of hearing me rattle on about exhaust notes), here is my review of the BMW X5 sDrive35i from

Drive on,
– M.

~ by drivingmsmiranda on August 13, 2010.

3 Responses to “It’s all in the exhaust, baby”

  1. Yo Miranda!

    It’s funny that you mention the G35 exhaust note. About three weeks ago, I was dropping my two sons off at daycare (my oldest is quickly becoming a car/motorcycle aficionado!) and noticed a new Nissan Maxima parked in front of the entrance. I like about 90% of the new Maxima’s appearance (the only exception is the grill/headlamp combination. For whatever reason, I can’t help feeling that it just doesn’t match up to the rest of the car’s striking good looks). As I was leaving, the owner had just gotten in and started it up. Talk about a beautiful exhaust note! It definitely got my attention, and I’ve been admiring this car ever since. It also has me even more obsessed with the GT-R since the Maxima engine is the basis for that engine as well. Have you driven one yet???


  2. […] I have no problem with modifications, especially if they’re done well. Engine upgrades, exhaust changes for the perfect note, interior gadget additions: all of these mods are […]

  3. […] is in the air when my head is constantly whipping around to catch a glimpse of the car attached to the aural symphony […]

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