We are rapidly moving towards an electric automotive future, one that promises zero emissions and swift yet silent performance. A noble cause, but to car enthusiasts the sound of an engine will be missed.
That makes it all the more important to celebrate some of the best sounding cars of all time before they’re all relegated to the history books.
This list contains 10 of the best sounding cars ever, some well-known classics intermingled with modern marvels, each one capable of emitting the sort of mechanical music from their tailpipes that will turn heads on any high street.
Our pick of the 10 best sounding cars are:
- Aston Martin DBS
- Audi RS3
- BMW M850i
- Ford Mustang Mach 1
- Ferrari F355
- Mercedes-AMG GT 4-door
- Jaguar F-Type R
- Lamborghini Aventador LP 780-4 Ultimae
- Maserati Quattroporte GTS
- Lexus LFA
1) Aston Martin DBS
- 5.2-litre twin-turbo V12
- 0-60mph in under 3.4-seconds
Most of Aston Martin’s models make use of a version of Mercedes’ much lauded twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8, a great sounding engine of course, but not quite as captivating to the ear as Aston’s own 725bhp 5.2-litre twin-turbo V12.
You may never legally be able to test its 211mph top speed or regularly experience the face-flattening 3.4-second 0-60mph time, but that exhaust note will put a smile on your face on every drive.
2) Audi RS3
- 2.5-litre turbocharged inline-five
- 0-60mph in 3.8-seconds
Audi’s famed turbocharged five-cylinder motor was first heard emitting its off-beat warble on the rally stages in the 1980s UR Quattro rally car. The latest version found in the all-wheel-drive Audi RS3 produces a serious 400hp and that same iconic exhaust note.
Find the right stretch of road, wind the windows down and you can imagine your Walter Rohrl, sliding gracefully between corners on a special rally stage. Just make sure you don’t actually slide around on public roads.
3) BMW M850i
- 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8
- 0-60mph in under 3.9-seconds
The 2000s BMW E46 M3 CSL had a fantastic engine note, thanks in part to its carbon-fibre intake. The one-and-only E90 M3 V8 wailed all the way to its 8,400rpm redline like a thoroughbred sports car, but if you want a similarly exhilarating soundtrack in a modern BMW, it’s not an M3 you need but the 8 Series in M850i trim.
It’s not quite as powerful as the full-fat M8, but its 530hp 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 actually has a more melodic tone, sounding like an old-school muscle car one minute and a hard-edged sports car the next.
4) Ford Mustang Mach 1
- 5.0-litre V8
- 0-60mph in under 4.4-seconds
Ford has been building characterful V8 powerplants for decades, if you would like to experience that soulful V8 burble with a warranty and a modern infotainment system, then the current Ford Mustang Mach 1 is your best bet.
It comes fitted with a 460hp 5.0-litre V8 engine that will captivate your eardrums at the touch of the accelerator pedal, best sampled with a manual transmission if you want full control of the V8 orchestra.
5) Ferrari F355
- 3.5-litre V8
- 0-60mph in 4.5-seconds
Modern Ferraris are technological marvels, capable of breaching the national speed limit by the time you’ve exited your driveway. They sound great too, but not quite as great as the classic V12s from the ‘60s, or indeed the stunning Ferrari F355 from the mid-1990s.
Producing an impressive 380hp from its naturally aspirated 3.5-litre V8 powerplant, the F355 wailed to its redline with an ear-splitting shriek that sounded like nothing else on the road.
6) Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S 4-door
- 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8
- 0-60mph in under 3.2-seconds
AMG Mercedes models were once defined by their manic V8 powerplants, emitting an unmistakable bass-heavy tone that let other road users know when to move over into the slow lane.
Emissions regulations have seen these AMG models shrink down in cylinder count and capacity, but the AMG GT 4-door happily resists this trend and retains its loud and proud AMG heritage courtesy of its twin-turbo V8 motor.
7) Jaguar F-Type R
- 5.0-litre supercharged V8
- 0-60mph in 3.7-seconds
It’s been around for a decade yet still looks as good as ever. The Jaguar F-Type R has the kind of intense exhaust note that makes you wonder how it ever passed noise regulations, not that anyone seems to mind when one blasts by, its 575hp 5.0-litre V8 snarling like a feral beast.
Get one now before someone realises that is just too much of a good thing in today’s EV obsessed world.
8) Lamborghini Aventador LP 780-4 Ultimae
- 6.5-litre V12
- 0-60mph in under 2.8-seconds
Lamborghini is known for keeping its flagship models in production for years and years, but even by their standards the Aventador has been around for a long time.
Incremental upgrades and a simply insane 6.5-litre V12 have helped it keep up with newer, more advanced rivals, but none sound quite as savage as this thing when driven in anger. And few spit fire out of their exhausts either.
9) Maserati Quattroporte GTS
- 4.7-litre V8
- 0-60mph in under 5.0-seconds
Maserati has produced some stunning automotive works of art over the years, one of the most memorable in recent years was the Quattroporte GTS, a four-door super saloon that produced arguably the most exquisite and cultured V8 soundtrack. Ever.
Its Ferrari F430 derived 4.7-litre V8 gave it some serious pace too, but that soundtrack was worth the asking price alone. Although slightly more subdued, the current turbocharged model is still an impressive sounding machine.
10) Lexus LFA
- 4.8-litre V10
- 0-60mph in 3.6-seconds
There have only been a handful of V10-powered cars over the years, and while all have sounded pretty awesome, the Lexus LFA took things to a whole new aural level. Its mesmerising exhaust note was courtesy of a naturally aspirated 552bhp 4.8-litre V10 mounted behind the driver.
While this rare supercar has long become a priceless modern classic, Lexus still provides scintillating mechanical music in the form of the stunning V8 LC coupe.
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