One of the most important parts of the car enthusiast’s experience is the way a vehicle sounds when pushed to its limits (DO YOU HEAR EVs?). No car engine design is as prolific as the four-cylinder, so we wonder which one sounds best.
It’s important to note that we’re not talking about the best four-cylinder engine ever made. We’ve asked about that before and you’ve given us some excellent answers. Today we only care about the sound the engine makes, no matter how good that engine is.
For those unsure of the distinction, consider something like the E60 BMW M5. Its V10 is one of the most notoriously unreliable ever made, yet at the same time it spins up to 9,000 RPM and sounds like the offspring of an angel and a dragon. So which four-piston deserves the crown among its four-piston siblings?
Related: What’s the Best Four-Cylinder Engine Ever Made?
There are many notable options to choose from. Not least the Ford RS200. It’s a pretty amazing bike, whatever it sounds like, thanks to the fact that it was built by Cosworth. At the same time, it makes a sound that is very suitable for a homologation special.
Alfa Romeo introduced a twin-cam four-cylinder in 1954 and it also produces a glorious melody worth noting. Unlike most of the cars we’ll mention, the engine itself has come in all sorts of different models, meaning there are many cars to enjoy.
Some newer cars may also be considered. Anyone who has driven one of the latest Fiat 500 Abarth models knows what we mean. Those cars were shipped and sold without a muffler, and instead of sounding unrefined, they sound like real Italian stallions.
The R53 MINI Cooper S is another great example, although it often sounded much better when the stock mufflers were replaced. Of course, it’s not all about exhaust noises, and the Cooper S benefits from a delightfully nasty supercharger whine. Or is something like a screaming VTEC revving over 9,000 rpm more your thing?
So tell us. Which four-cylinder engine sounds better than any other in history? Is it something new? Or is it slightly older? Does it rely solely on the exhaust note or on a combination of mechanical factors?