Electric cars can’t be completely silent. New legislation in many markets makes fitting external speakers that generate some sort of noise essential, while on the inside, a little artificial sound is something the driver might find useful.
In the Porsche Taycan, the fake sound was based on a recording of the motor, but for the closely related E-Tron GT, Audi‘s engineers trod a different path. The result is described as a “sporty, expansive and sophisticated sound,” which, “combines familiar sound patterns with new, futuristic elements,” Audi sound designer Rudolf Halbmeir explains. Take a listen below and see what you think.
As with most of the fake electric car sounds we’ve heard so far, there is a certain UFO vibe to proceedings, even though Audi specifically says it didn’t want it to be like “a spaceship from a science fiction movie”. What you’re hearing is the combination of no less than 32 samples, with the foundation being - we’re not making this up - a small electric fan blowing down a piece of plastic pipe Halbmeir found in his garden.
The team sampled various lengths of plastic pipe, plus an electric remote control helicopter and an electric screwdriver. The samples come together along with synthesised noises in a bespoke programme created especially for the job. Testing has been done both in Audi’s sound laboratory, and out on the road with prototype E-Tron GTs.
To get some idea of what customers might want, Audi used 130 members of the public for a customer study, which involved them sitting behind a curtain and “evaluating” the noise of passing cars.
Exactly what you hear depends on a variety of aspects, including motor speed, vehicle speed, load, and the mode selected by the driver. The sound is subtle and quiet at lower speeds, “becoming fuller and more dynamic as speed increases”.
The kind of E-Tron GT you’ve bought will be a factor, too - the now-confirmed RS E-Tron GT will make a slightly different noise, it’s understood. Perhaps the fan and/or pipe used for that will be a tad bigger.