Sound design technology can make small diesels sound like large, petrol V8s. BMW's Active Sound Design team has four different "engine notes" it is working on.

One of the least reported on aspects of the auto industry is how automakers design the sound of their vehicles. And BMW has been one of the pioneers of this technology which it calls Active Sound Design.

Now, BMW engineers have developed an "engine note" for the MINI that can make its four-cylinder diesel sound like a petrol/gasoline-powered "muscle car" V8. In fact, four different engine notes have been created and are being tested in both a MINI and BMW 635d prototype.

The technology uses the car's own sound-system to enhance the driver experience - so much so that many test drivers come to perceive the car as performing better compared to an identically-powered unit without the sound design technology. The technology uses panels to deaden the sound in the engine bay while feeding artificial sounds to the cabin through the car's sound-system.

BMW wants to use the new engine-notes to improve its diesel offerings.

According to Albert Kaltenhauser, BMW's Manager for Airborne Sound, Acoustics and Vibration: "Today's diesel engines are capable of a lot. They're efficient, highly effective and high-torque, but until now they were lacking the right sound."

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