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BMW Responds to Complaints About Exhaust Sound on the new M3 and M4

If there’s one thing more than one enthusiast complained about the new BMW M3 and M4, that's the quality of the exhaust sound. To put it mildly: it doesn’t sound how most people expected it to.
BMW F80 M3 exhaust 1 photo
Well, that doesn’t really say much, now does it? First of all, everyone has a different opinion when it comes to how an M engine should sound like and second, some people must’ve expected it to still sound like the V8 it replaces and not as an inline 6.

Not only that but other factors also contribute to a new, different sound. Factors such as turbocharging and a different configuration under the body are amongst the most important.

Faced with the same dilemma on the current M5 that was the first such model that didn’t use a naturally aspirated engine, BMW introduced Active Sound Design, an invention that was criticized by everyone out there.

What ASD actually does is ‘pump’ fake engine sound into the cockpit. For someone that isn’t used to the supercar scene, it’s barely noticeable and works rather good but for those fanatics out there, it’s a rather disappointing sound.

When reviewers found out that the new cars might also use this feature, most started claiming that the sound the new M3 and M4 make is fake and you can actually tell that it’s not the real thing really easy.

BMW felt like it had to defend its product and, in a recent sit-down with Motoring Research, the BMW M Head of Project Management, Carsten Pries addressed the issue:

“The engine note in the cabin is largely pure. The electronic noise is minimized and only makes up 2% to 3% of the sound you hear,” he said.

Furthermore, on the new cars, ASD will be disabled and the only ‘enhancement’ the two use is a real-time amplification of induction noises made by the engine. That’s it.

The rest of the noise is made by the new exhaust that was designed specifically for 'loud' sounds and has two actuators inside that change position depending on the driving style. When you go over 4,000 RPM, they open and the rear muffler starts sounding like the hounds of hell. Well, at least that’s what they tried to do. We’re not really sure that they succeeded. Not just yet.

 
 
 
 
 

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