One of the most appealing aspects of electric vehicles for the average driver is the fact that the motor is silent.
However, when it comes to performance cars, much of the appeal is the evocative sound of the engine.
With electric vehicles set to become the norm, performance car manufacturers are having to adapt to find ways of bringing back some of that appeal.
One such manufacturer is BMW. The bulk of its sales come from its mainstream models, but its M Division is world-renowned for building some of the most desirable enthusiast cars on the market.
To address the sound issue with its upcoming EVs, the German firm has hired legendary composer Hans Zimmer. The 63-year-old German is best-known for producing some of the most iconic movie soundtracks in recent memory, including Inception, Interstellar and Dunkirk.
His first Academy Award nomination came in 1988 for Best Original Score on Rain Man, while his first win for the same award came in 1994 for Disney’s The Lion King. He knows his stuff when it comes to sound, then.
In new footage released by BMW, Zimmer is seen in the studio discussing how to construct an appropriate soundtrack with Renzo Vitale, creative director of sound at BMW Group.
Vitale said: “When you are pressing the pedal of an M car, you suddenly have goosebumps all over your body. Something that produces a thrilling effect for you, is something that shuts down your head and it’s pure emotion.”
Discussing their work on the project, Zimmer explained: “There’s a new world that we created. We unleashed some beast, but at the same time it’s got precision.
“How can we give something that is more of an experience than they ever had with their petrol engines, and make it even more exciting and even more joyful to drive?
“So I keep thinking that we can go further with these sounds because the sportiness, the whole philosophy behind the M cars and, I think, behind the drivers, is that they are a little bit more ready for a bit of an experiment – for a little bit of something new. Something unusual.”
The last few seconds of the video give us our first chance to hear the result of their work, which has a clear sci-fi inspiration, like an otherworldly propulsion method from a movie vehicle.
BMW says the sounds will be used in the M-specification version of its new i4 electric vehicle. When driving in a relaxed manner in Comfort mode the car will be quiet, but switching to Sport mode brings the more prominent sound to the experience.
Called IconicSounds, it will be a standard feature on the iX SUV, and optional on the i4. It will be introduced ‘over the course of 2022’, but customers that have their car delivered before it’s introduced can have it retrofitted at a later date.