The Art of Noise

The Art of Noise

I haven’t blogged about the McLaren MP4-12C until now. I know this is a bit of a wish-fulfillment fantasy blog from time to time what with various BMWs and Mercedes-Benzes and the Pagani Hurler getting a mention but I really don’t want it to be about all the cars I want to drive but can’t afford. That could be a column at the back of Autocar, couldn’t it? Richard Bremner must be running out of Cars That Saved Or Shamed The Company. Jonny Smith could write it. Or I could, I suppose.

Anyway, I’ve been avoiding talking about the new McLaren because I haven’t got all that much to say about it. I don’t think it looks as bland as some commentators have made it out to be. I don’t much like the All-Grille Review rear end on it, but if Ron Dennis hates rear lights that much then let him have no rear lights on his car. I’d like one very much, please. I prefer it to the 458 Italia because it’s less shouty in appearance and I could have an orange one without having to ask someone at the factory to mix me up a special batch of paint in exchange for an extraordinarily capacious bag full of £10 notes.

It’s shoutiness which has finally prodded me into blogging about the McLaren; specifically the shoutiness of the engine. Harry Metcalfe writing in the current edition of evo has a long piece about an email he wrote to Anthony Sherriff, the MD of McLaren Automotive about the sound the MP4-12C makes. He wasn’t alone in criticising its lack of aural drama when compared to the Ferrari when the initial reviews came out. He was invited back to try a car which has had a few modifications so that it makes more noise, but seemingly only inside the cockpit. He left Woking happier with the McLaren. McLaren themselves said that all customer cars would have the same modifications so that the driver will have a more emotional experience. The company’s engineers have proved that with their background as a racing team, they can identify a problem, design and test a solution and get it onto the cars coming down the line with admirable speed. Everybody wins.

Almost.

The emotional experience I have in a noisy environment is not a pleasant one. I know it’s not quite the same thing, but I was stuck in a building this morning where the burglar alarm was being serviced. This involved the bloody thing going off every couple of minutes while an engineer waited for everyone to stand still so he could reset the system. I was driven to distraction by the god-awful racket but I couldn’t stop what I was doing because my customer was unable to leave the till area where we were working. My point is that noise isn’t always good and that more noise isn’t always better, even when it’s coming from the engine of a supercar being given a through seeing-to inches behind your head.

Steve Sutcliffe agrees with me. His column in this Autocar a couple of weeks ago was on the revisions McLaren has made to the noise-tuning system of the MP4-12C. I’m usually more in line with Autocar’s way of thinking about the car world than evo’s and that’s in spite of being closer to Harry’s age than Steve’s. Even Alex Goy on a recent Podisode was complaining about the changes McLaren made recently and he’s quite shouty himself. I’m not the only grumpy old man round here. Not by a long chalk. Emotional is not the same thing as noisy, people.

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