It would be all too easy for Porsche to name its best-sounding engine as its newest engine, in a relentless pursuit for sales. But Stuttgart doesn’t really need to do that, do they?
The iconic sportscar brand has dragged some of its most famous models into its Weissach sound studio before kicking each accelerator and ranking what it believes are the top five sweetest-sounding vehicles it has ever made. And the winner is almost 15 years old.
In number five is the 1973 911 Carrera 2.7 RS of which only 1580 were made as a homologation special for FIA Group 4 racing regulations. The 150kW air-cooled six-cylinder boxer makes a classic, but subtle, guttural growl when revved in the studio, a perfect complement to the iconic ducktail rear spoiler, the only less-subtle styling aspect on the petite and gorgeous, 1075kg two-door 2+2.
Number four rewinds further back in history, to the 1953 550 Spyder and its 81kW 1.5-litre four-cylinder all-aluminium boxer engine – incredibly advanced for its time – and four-speed transaxle driving the rear wheels. Compared with the six, its tenor is deeper and throatier but with a still-obvious horizontally opposed soundtrack.
There is no mention of today’s turbo four-cylinder 718 Boxster or Cayman, but in number three comes another current model – the 4.0-litre naturally aspirated six-cylinder 911 GT3 RS. With a quick glimpse of its 9000rpm redline, the 368kW engine shows off its crisp, yet throaty acoustics overlaid with twin-centre-exhaust burble. It is incredibly quick to rev, entering into the realms of motorsport for the road, even by today’s supercar standards.
But with a tacho that extends to 10,000rpm and a staggering 652kW, the 2013 918 Spyder nabs second place. It may be a hybrid, but the electric motors on the front and rear axle hardly interrupt the soar of the 4.6-litre naturally aspirated V8 engine – unlike with turbocharging, the forced induction engines of which Porsche snubs in its top five. Perhaps even faster to rev than the GT3 RS, the 918 Spyder is more strident and single-pitch as its crests the top-end of the tachometer.
And in number one, the 918 Spyder’s hypercar predecessor from a decade prior, not with four- or six- or eight-cylinders, but the 5.7-litre naturally aspirated 2003 V10 Carrera GT. Described as a “blatant” racing engine, the 450kW unit howls more than sings, bellows rather than booms, while never seeming overbearing or forced in its sporty soundtrack. All of which is enjoyed with a six-speed manual transmission that could achieve a 3.9sec 0-100km/h, or quicker in independent tests – incredible 14 years ago; still outstanding today.
Given that Porsche has named a hybrid ahead of any turbo model in its top-sounding engine breed, it begs the question – in this age of making emissions-requirement ends meet – will this sportscar brand move to electrification before forced induction for a future heroic 911? The brand says ‘no’, but some formerly said the company would never build an SUV, either.