Over the years, car manufacturers have given us some fantastic cars with fantastic character and outstanding harmonious exhaust sounds. So sit back, relax and enjoy the music to your ears.
Now, I know this is only a Top 10 list. I couldn’t put every best sounding engine or car into the list, so I will create another one later on. If you’ve got any suggestions, then by all means, do share them, and I will make sure to add them to the future ones.
10: Lamborghini Aventador/ 6.5 Litre V12
As sad as it is to say this, the almighty Lamborghini Aventador is being discontinued this year. After a decade of being king of the pin-up poster, the Aventador is heading down into retirement with an all-new hybrid hypercar set to replace it.
More to the point, the V12 has always been the power horse to the brand’s flagship models. As we all know, a flagship car deserves a flagship engine. That being the iconic 6.5 litre V12, and what an engine it is. Loud, bold and full of character, you hear it before you see it, and the sheer presence and pitch of that V12 are genuinely what makes the Lamborghini Aventador the ultimate dream machine.
There have been many different variants of the Aventador, ranging from the standard model to the SV, the SVJ, the limited-edition Aventador J, and last, but not least, the Ultimae. All tied with the same engine, albeit tuned, but carrying that same passion and pedigree.
9: Mercedes W204 C63 AMG/ M156 Engine
If you are to ask a true petrolhead what the best and most iconic Mercedes engine is, it will be this one. The deafening roar and aggression from the 6.2 litres V8 was something genuinely unheard of back in the late 2000s. I remember still being a kid and hearing the exhaust for the first time and the smile it put on my face (it still does so to this day). The old W204 C63 wasn’t the best looking of cars, nor did it have the best infotainment system or the best interior, but I would compromise it all for that engine. Make no doubt that the M156 engine will be an automotive icon of a machine.
8: Aston Martin DBS/ 6.0 Litre V12 engine
Speaking of icons, the last generation Aston Martin DBS (the one James Bond crashed in Casino Royale that set a Guinness World Record back in 2006) is just that. More specifically, it’s the engine; thanks to emission regulations, the newer V12s are of a smaller displacement and don’t quite have that iconic roar that the old 6.0 V12 did; it was a powerhouse of an engine that produced immense power for its time. Producing 510 bhp and 570 Nm of torque, making it the ultimate grand touring machine. The 6.0 Litre V12 made Aston Martin well renowned; the engine was unique, and the start-up process and cold start were biblical. The saying, they don’t make them like they used to, was made for this engine.
7: Pagani Zonda/ 7.3 Litre V12 engine
Another bedroom post icon, the Pagani Zonda, the brand has come a long way since its initial establishment back in the late 1990s, and they’ve only gotten better. Sure, the engine they sourced is from Mercedes, but that is a compliment. The rare 7.3 Litre V12 is tailored and produced primarily for Pagani, and it is the beating heart of the brand, most prominently the Zonda. Unlike other engines that die along with the car when discontinued, this mighty behemoth lives on in the newer Huayra. The more recent, younger generation can still experience the sheer joy and excitement of hearing it in the flesh as it dominates anything nearby.
6: Porsche 911 GT3 RS/ 4.0 Litre flat-six engine
Porsche’s signature dish, the flat-six engine, is no slouch sure compared to its competitors; it’s the smallest, often has the least displacement and has the least amount of cylinders. It puts up a good fight that dominates its competition; a small engine means its light. A flat-six layout ensures a low centre of gravity and means it can be placed lower down, providing even weight distribution and better engine versatility. As a result, Porsche created a nine thousand rpm engine that packs a mighty punch, and it is the engine that, for a century, has made Porsche the status symbol that they are today.
5: Audi R8 and RS4/ 4.2 Litre V8 engine
When the R8 first came out back in 2006, it was nothing we’ve ever seen before; it set the trend for a practical daily supercar. It was comfortable, reliable and small enough to go on city driving. The 4.2 litres V8 was already reliable and bulletproof, with good mileage, but the sound it emitted. That iconic V8 rumble and throaty revs made it a dream car for many people, and to most, it is regarded as one of the most excellent cars that Audi has ever made, along with the original Audi Quattro (more on that later).
4: Ferrari 812 GTS/ 6.5 Litre V12 engine
Both Lamborghini and Ferrari have a standing history together; Lamborghini’s origin story comes from Ferrari refusing to help them create their first supercar. Fast forward over 50 years, and Lamborghini has made more than just an image for itself; however, I digress, and the Ferrari V12s are just as Iconic as those on Lamborghinis. Again, the V12 is Ferrari’s flagship engine; it’s put on their hypercars, race cars and Grand Tourers. The machine has been revised, revisited and re-engineered to make it the best it can be, the old F12 Berlinetta is widely regarded as the closest thing to an F1 car, and the 812 Superfast is precisely just that. A Formula 1 car on the road, the screaming V12 has presence, noise and the perfect balance between pitch, tone and bass. It is a wet dream for anyone who appreciates their ears.
3: Mazda RX-7/ 1.3 Litre rotary 13B-REW engine
The rotary, where do I begin? It is everything that makes a car feel alive, the pulsating idle sound it emits sounds like a beating heart, and the unique and iconic exhaust note is what ensures everyone knows that no other car can or ever will sound like this. One of the best rotary engines is the 13B-REW twin-turbo engine, which is heavily revised, improved and widely used in nearly 67 thousand units sold between 1992 and 2002.
2: Audi S1 Quattro/2.5-litre inline-five engine
Back in the 1980s, when Audi was heavily involved in the world of rallying, they came up with this. The S1 Audi Quattro, the four-wheel-drive system, wasn’t the only iconic thing Audi introduced; that 2.5-litre inline-five cylinder engine is still used today. Though, at the moment, it is the beating heart of the Audi TT RS and the Audi RS3, this is an engine that needs no introduction, no statement, and its exhaust note alone is enough to show you why it is one of the best sounding engines out there.
1: Lexus LFA/ 4.8 Litre V10 engine
Lexus spent over nine years developing and creating the LFA; after seven years or so, they altogether scrapped it as the body and chassis were designed out of aluminium and did the process again using carbon fibre. This sleeping, however, was worth the weight; that 4.8 litre V10 idles so fast that a conventional rev counter can’t keep up. So instead, Lexus had to fit a digital cluster to keep up.
Enough waffling, though; that unique and bespoke 4.8 litres V10 is what brings the LFA to life. Its howl gives it a significant presence and tone; it makes the car feel alive, have feelings and emotions. It’s an impractical car, but that’s what gives it a human-like entity; its imperfections combined with that unique howling engine truly make it something of a legend.
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