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BMW Finally Rolled Back One of Its Most Hated Features

The motoring community has accepted BMW into their hearts as one of the most consistently exciting and driver-focused car makers in the world. Rear-wheel drive, (sometimes) manual transmissions, and plenty of power are the aspects BMW has built its name on. The new 2021 BMW lineup should make some buyers a little happier.

Though the German automaker boasts driver’s cars, many BMW owners and fans were less than pleased with the addition of the artificial engine noise that came through the speakers. That feature went against everything that BMW cars are all about. Well, BMW has heard and listened; and now the fake engine noise will be dealt with. 

BMW has been slipping lately

As Gear Patrol points out, BMW has been making a lot of unpopular decisions lately. The most recent fumble was the new bucktoothed grill design. The internet has been alight with memes and jokes aplenty. Many aftermarket companies have already begun creating ways to coverup that goofy grill. BMW also upset fans with the whole Apple CarPlay subscription mess. Most companies charge a one-time fee for a feature that BMW announced they would charge an annual subscription fee. 

2021 BMW M3
2021 BMW M3 | BMW Motor Group

Maybe the misstep most hated by motoring enthusiasts, though, was the artificial engine noise. This particular feature felt like an affront to many fans. To be spoon-fed, fake engine sounds felt akin to being lied to. 

How does it work?

Cars and trucks used to be loud – all of them. The sound insulation techniques have finally gotten to a place where the driver can enjoy a quiet ride. That’s great for most motorists, but some like to hear the engine’s sound, particularly in sports cars. People pay big money to have their exhaust note tuned because the sound is a major part of why they love the car. 

BMW M3 is on display at the 110th Annual Chicago Auto Show
BMW M3 | Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

Most BMWs these days have become so well insulated that the engine sound can be hard to hear. The answer to that was to pump in artificial engine noise through the car’s speakers to simulate the engine sound for the driver without sacrificing a quiet ride. Well, BMW folks didn’t love it.

BMW is not alone

According to Gear Patrol, other carmakers like Volkswagen and Ford also try to simulate engine noise, but for a marque that claims to be the “ultimate driving machine,” that choice makes less sense. Volkswagen at least has an amplifier on the firewall to send the engine noise, where the BMW’s sound is a digital track, which makes the whole thing even more offensive and plastic-y. 

RELATED: 2021 BMW 4-Series Sporting ‘Beaver Fang’ Grille: Oh No!

There’s good news

According to Autoblog, BMW is offering its newest cars with an option to choose how much of the goofy computer noise comes through the speakers. Like driver modes, the new M235i Grand Coupe has three different engine sound modes; “Sporty,” “Balanced,” and “Reduced.” 

Gear Patrol reports that even though BMW is now offering this choice to limit the sound, it still requires a deep dive into the car’s iDrive settings. It may be annoying, but it makes sense. I think it understands that the people who care enough about will take the time, but plenty of owners aren’t bothered by the fake sound. Furthermore, if the setting was easy, folks may accidentally change it and worry when their car sounds different. 

“…It’d be a lot cooler if you did”

It would be way cooler if the Germans just cut it out completely, but it’s still pretty cool that for 2021, BMW listened to their customers and gave them an option to limit that annoyance. Now, if they can fix the grill, we’ll be talking about something.