McLaren still working on that all-important exhaust note

The one thing most high-performance sports cars share, is a memorable exhaust note.

Think of Aston Martin, Ferrari, Jaguar, Lamborghini, Maserati and Porsche, and it’s the noise these cars make under full throttle that usually gets the heart racing as much as the head-turning looks.

Aficionados of these highly-prized exotics only have to hear the engines at work for a few seconds, before naming the precise make and model.

British sports carmaker McLaren is the new kid on the block, though, only kicking off its series production business six years ago from its home base at Woking, in the UK. It’s a brand steeped in motor racing history with multiple Formula One Championships under its belt, along with a string of other racing success stories.

McLaren Automotive, the division that builds the road cars, employs a 3.8-litre twin-turbo V8 engine across its entire range, in various states of tune, depending on which of the three-performance series you choose; Sports, Super and Ultimate.

But some in the industry have argued McLarens lack the same level of visceral exhaust note as many of its rivals. It’s a notion we put to McLaren Asia Pacific boss, George Biggs at the recent launch in Australia of the all-new second-generation 720S.

“I think with the powertrain we have, we are definitely working through that exhaust note, and with 720S we have made significant improvements. But I also think it’s a very personal thing, just like styling is personal, that sound is also quite personal.

“To that end, we’re working on making sure we have a distinctive McLaren sound, and I’m sure there will be some people that like it, and some that don’t. But it is one area that we are focusing on to improve.

“There are a number of development stories where we’ve got people very much focused on the sound of our cars, describing it as ‘the voice’ of our supercar, so we’re very aware of it”, said Biggs.

“We’re also a brand that is making sure that everything on the car is absolutely authentic on our car. So, it’s interesting, there’s a way to bring the engine note closer to you, but we’re not creating a different sound to the engine itself.

“Even the P1 doesn’t have what you would probably describe as your traditional V12 roar that gets you in the stomach, but actually, the P1 is a super exciting car because of all the pops, bangs and whizzes that you have with all of the forced induction.

“So, I think the market generally will start to move to a point where that forced induction sound is a bit more accepted, and then from a McLaren perspective it’s making sure we can get both a distinctive note and one that appeals to the market”, he added.