There’s nothing quite like the organic noise of a wonderful petrol engine. Whether your dish du jour is a woofly twin-turbo V8, a furious N/A V10 or a melodious, soulful V12 – or any one of a dozen different particularly sonorous engine configurations – nothing can replace the sound of your favourite engines under load.
My hand is up; I’m guilty as charged. At CT we do like to make a fuss about that. From the 4.7-litre Maserati V8 in the old GranCabrio to today’s bombastic blown 4.0-litre AMG flagship, I’ve not been shy about placing noise as the one reason why EVs can’t replace petrol-driven sports cars.
And yet… even to we most die-hard supporters of good ol’ suck-squeeze-bang-blow, the list of arguments in favour of turning liquidised ancient dead things into forward motion is growing bum-troublingly thin.
Earlier this week we reported on how the Volkswagen ID R completed its bonkers 6m 05s lap of the Green Hell at an energy usage equivalent of 17mpg; about the same as what an M3 will give you on a quick blast to and from the shops. The more you think about it, the more amazing it becomes.
For a car as rampantly quick as the ID R to make a circuit of such a fuel-hungry track using so relatively little energy is a brutal uppercut to the jaw of internal combustion. All of a sudden we’re reaching a technological event horizon whereby electric power can give more real-world speed, with better refinement, in a way that’s (on the face of it) much kinder to the planet. Not just that, though: the key buzzword of the 2010s has been efficiency, and in that respect the ID R represents a quantum leap.
Let’s take a flight of fancy: imagine owning a car that would hit 62mph in around 5.5 seconds, carry you to work in near-silent comfort, be kinder to the planet and achieve a financial equivalent of 100mpg or more. Now realise that the Tesla Model 3 already offers that. Such a combination is going to be prohibitively expensive for most of us for the time being, but when the classifieds start to fill up with BEVs in a few years… well, could you really resist?
No manufacturer has yet come up with a solution to the noise issue; or lack thereof. Formula E still sounds about as exciting as a wholemeal loaf, and to anyone for whom emotive noise is an integral part of the way they enjoy cars, it’s still a gaping hole in the new kids’ arsenals. But prices are creeping down, and now that BEVs can offer so much of everything else, for how long can we realistically clutch at that one remaining straw?