Dark days are ahead.
It's no surprise to anyone who keeps track of the auto industry that automakers are on the verge of going electric. That even goes for performance car builders like BMW's M division and Mercedes' AMG unit. It's a shame too because even though electric cars can offer performance numbers in line with the best of the internal combustion engine-powered world, EV's tend to not feel as alive as cars with gasoline engines.
That's why the characteristics of gasoline- and diesel-powered cars must be enjoyed while they still can be, characteristics like crackling downshifts, whip-cracking upshifts, and the roar of a raucous engine being cold started. The problem is, there's a chance AMG does away with its rich and angry-sounding exhaust notes even before its cars go hybrid and electric. At least that's what Australia's Car Sales found out by speaking to the head of product planning for Mercedes-AMG compact cars, Bastian Bogenschutz.
The reason AMG and its competitors will need to curtail the volume of the sounds coming out of their exhaust systems has to do with new noise regulations being enforced in Europe. The AMG A45 S and AMG CLA 45 S are the first AMGs to be subject to the new rules, and Car Sales noted that it drove both cars in Europe and found the noise levels to be lacking given each vehicle's 414-horsepower output.
"It's coming from the European regulations," explained Bogenschutz. "We can [design specific exhausts] but it's too expensive for every market to do it, it's pretty difficult." Because of the rules, the AMG A 45 S and AMG CLA 45 S apparently lack the cracks, pops, burbles, and infuriated roars given off under hard acceleration.
But that doesn't mean Mercedes' AMG division has given up on thrilling the driver with engine bass. It's just that the bass now has to come from the car's speakers rather than its exhaust system.
"The regulations were getting pretty difficult for the sound to just come from the exhaust system," said Bogenschutz. "So we added the AMG pure performance sound, there we take the real sound from the exhaust system, the pulsation of the real sound and move it inside the car. It works together with the exhaust system." This, of course, is the same tactic that BMW's M division used to augment its heavily turbocharged (and therefore heavily muffled) engines, but it was criticized for that. At the very least, Mercedes can avoid the same fate by pointing its finger at EU regulators.