Porsche’s first electric SUV is here. And if you’re afraid that trading in your gas-fueled Macan for the upcoming battery-powered version will take all the fun out of owning a Porsche, fret not. The Macan Electric isn’t your ordinary EV, offering up the option to blast theatrical, synthetic acceleration noises at passersby.
“Porsche Electric Sport Sound” will cost you $490 on top of the new Macan’s starting price of $78,800 (before a delivery fee). It’s part of a laundry list of add-ons that can push the model’s total price tag north of $160,000.
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Fake engine sounds, coming to an EV near you
Porsche’s first electric SUV isn’t alone in this. Several car companies are pumping artificial acceleration noises into—and out of—their inherently quiet electric cars to make the driving experience more familiar and dramatic.
The option, listed under “Performance” in the Macan Electric’s online configurator, “enhances the vehicle’s own sound and makes it sound even more emotional—both outside and inside the vehicle,” Porsche says. Owners can toggle the sound on and off as they like using the Macan’s central screen.
Like many of the artificial propulsion soundtracks offered in today’s EVs, “Porsche Electric Sport Sound” sounds like a cross between an alien spaceship and a combustion engine. It’s equal parts futuristic drone and familiar rumble.
EVs are inherently quiet, making driving one a remarkably tranquil experience. But that’s also led some companies to experiment with artificial acceleration sounds to fill the void and appeal to car buyers who might miss the drama of loud, sputtering gas engines. Typically, those soundscapes are pumped into the cabin via speakers, but some manufacturers are interested in making their EVs noisy to the outside world as well.
Porsche is one of them. Its Taycan electric sports sedan also offers a sound package. Drivers of Hyundai’s Ioniq 5 N, a high-performance electric SUV, can choose from a range of different sound profiles that mimic the swelling sound of gear shifts—even though it has a single gear. Dodge, known for its thunderous V8-powered muscle cars, showed off an electric concept car that’s nearly as loud as a jet engine.
The new Macan is massively important to Porsche and the wider Volkswagen Group it belongs to. The small SUV is one of Porsche’s top sellers, and the upcoming model debuts the VW Group’s Premium Platform Electric architecture, which will underpin future EVs from both Porsche and Audi. All eyes will be on the Macan to see how that platform functions following all sorts of software stumbles and delays from VW.
It’s not just about making it work. It’s also about getting customers excited and keeping people safe, which is where the phony exhausts come in. Not only do they make EVs more entertaining, they could also save your life.
A 2022 study compared how pedestrians react to oncoming electric and gas-powered vehicles. It found that people were way worse at judging the time to collision for EVs accelerating toward them. Maybe making EVs sound a bit louder and more familiar could help.