Top 10 best sounding engines of all time

Tyler Heatley

03 Nov 2021

The hills are alive with the sound of horsepower.

It would seem that the combustion engine’s days are numbered with electrification soon to become the law in many countries. As well as providing performance, these masters of ignition supply endless character through the noises they make.

From three-cylinders to twelve or more, these are our top 10 best sounding engines of all time.

Lexus LFA

The Lexus LFA was a bit of a surprise from the luxury carmaker. A front-engined super GT wasn’t exactly its modus operandi, but it did serve to highlight the talent of its engineers. Its naturally aspirated 4.8-litre V10 is a work of art that howls to its redline.

The LFA project has hugely delayed as Lexus suddenly changed the design when lighter materials became available.

Aston Martin V12 Vantage

When Aston Martin decided to squeeze its biggest V12 engine into its smallest car, a legend was formed. There’s nothing quite like conducting a 12-cylinder orchestra via a manual gearbox. This 5.9-litre unit has some very talented vocal cords.

Porsche Carrera GT

The Porsche Carrera GT really represented the last of a breed. With limited driver aids and a manual gearbox, this was a true ‘hairy chested’ supercar. Its shrieking V10 engine was originally designed for Le Mans, but when that project was shelved, the unit landed in the back of this flagship supercar.

Honda NSX

The first-generation Honda NSX played host to the most delicious naturally aspirated V6 engine. Being a VTEC motor, it loves to rev to the stratosphere and fill the cockpit with a frenetic sound that only serves to encourage whoever is behind the wheel.

An overused fact: Ayrton Senna helped develop the original Honda NSX.

Lamborghini Huracan

Another V10? Well, they are very much an endangered species with just two production cars utilising them today. One is the Audi R8, and the other is the Lamborghini Huracan. Wrapped inside the provocative body of this baby bull is a naturally aspirated 5.2-litre unit that is an utter delight. 

Ferrari 250 GTO

Ferrari’s legendary Columbo V12 had many applications, but its most famous was under the bonnet of the Ferrari 250 GTO. Today, considered the most valuable car in the world, you’re paying for pedigree and that beautiful engine.

Toyota GR Yaris

From many cylinders to the few, proving that it’s not what you’ve got but how you use it. The peppy little GR Yaris is a true homologation special designed to give the rally car a baked-in advantage. Its three-cylinder petrol engine is actually the most potent motor of its kind at this point in time and sounds rather fruity.

Porsche 911 GT3

The 911’s flat-six has been a Porsche staple for decades, and the GT car’s reluctance to turbocharge makes them a rarity in 2021. It’s distinctive sound is one adored by the cult of GT3, and always followed by an enormous grin from the lucky sod behind the wheel.

Audi TT RS

Really? An Audi TT on a list sharing space with a classic Ferrari and a Porsche 911? Well, the TT RS features a very special five-cylinder engine that warbles its way to the redline with gusto. Just like V10s, the five-cylinder engine is a very rare thing in today’s world.

McLaren F1

Did you know that the mighty McLaren F1 nearly got an engine from Isuzu of all manufacturers? Thankfully that didn’t materialise and it received BMW power instead, something that helped this supercar win outright at Le Mans in 1995. It’s a free-revving engine that channels its power to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual transmission.

Rowan Atkinson famously owned a McLaren F1. He also famously crashed it… Twice. 

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Tyler Heatley

03 Nov 2021