We spend a lot of time talking about lateral grip and zero-to-60 mph times around here, but they’re far from the only useful metrics we have to evaluate cars. For instance: every year, we test the sound pressure level in hundreds of cars at idle, at a 70 mph cruise, and at wide-open throttle. Here we’ve assembled a list of the loudest cars at wide-open throttle in each segment as determined by us. Don’t look for subcompact crossovers here; we call those hatchbacks.
Take note: sound pressure level, measured in decibels (dB), is not strictly the same thing as loudness. Loudness is how humans perceive sounds, and it’s subjective. Sound pressure level measures the change in ambient atmospheric pressure that’s created by a given sound wave. They’re related, but not interchangeable. With that necessary but regrettable bit of pedantry taken care of, click through to find out where in each segment you can go to find the highest decibel reading.
Convertible: 2019 McLaren 720S Spider: 99 dBA
The 2019 McLaren 720S Spider is a breathtakingly beautiful machine that turns heads as well as it turns lap times. It’s also, no surprise, quite a bit louder at wide-open throttle than the fixed-roof 720S. Its folding-hardtop roof lets in more noise from the twin-turbo V-8, showering occupants with 99 decibels. If you buy the coupe, you’ll only get 95 decibels. Good news for the noise-obsessed: the 720S Spider performs just as well as the coupe at the track.
Coupe: Loudest: 2016 Porsche 911 GT3 RS: 108 dBA
The 2016 Porsche 911 GT3 RS is a thing of beauty. Whether your thing is carving apexes or you’re tickled by design, the RS is a winner. Aurally, it’s in a different league. At idle, the Porsche makes a discordant cacophony of sounds, but with its gas pedal smashed to the floor, we measured an earplug-worthy 108 decibels inside the car. Its 4.0-liter flat-six is not to be trifled with as the RS approaches its 8800-rpm redline. But it is something you’ll want to experience in person.
Hatchback: 2021 Mini Cooper JCW GP: 93 dBA
There is a surprisingly large array of super-loud small hatchbacks on the market, but the Mini Cooper JCW GP is the loudest of all, with a 93-dBA yowl at wide-open throttle that puts some genuine sports coupes to shame. At a blistering 4.7 seconds to 60 mph, the JCW GP also happens to be the quickest front-drive car we’ve ever tested. The styling is a little extreme and the GP’s loud noises can be grating after a long drive, but it’s at the head of its pack in more ways than one.
Pickup: 2019 Ford F-150 Raptor: 88 dBA
The 702-hp Ram 1500 TRX set a new standard for performance pickup trucks when it launched last fall, but the outgoing generation of the Ford F-150 Raptor still holds at least one title: at 88 decibels, it’s eight dBA louder than the Ram at wide-open throttle. Ford is coming out with a new Raptor for 2021, and with a TRX-fighting Raptor R on tap for the 2022 model year, there could be an even noisier pickup on the block before long.
Sedan: 2017 Mercedes-AMG CLA45 4Matic and 2020 Mercedes-AMG CLA35 88 dBA(tie)
Mercedes’ CLA35 and 45 share everything but a price and some engine tuning, so we’ll count them as one vehicle. The cars both use a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four. The engine makes 302 horsepower in the 35 and 382 horsepower in the 45, but it generates 88 dBA of racket at wide-open throttle in both. All-wheel drive is standard to both, too, and helps blast the CLA35 to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds and the 45 to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds.
Sedan: 2020 Mercedes-AMG C43 88 dBA (tie)
The Mercedes-AMG C43 is the lesser of the AMG C-classes but it makes a big showing on this list. The 2019 C43 has a turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 engine making 385 horsepower; it drives like a dream and made 60 mph in 4.1 seconds during our testing. The 503-hp C63 S reached 60 in 3.7 seconds, but, from our spot nestled in the cabin, its 4.0-liter V-8 engine was much quieter than the C43’s V-6. It’s all about priorities.
Sedan: 2020 BMW 840i Gran Coupe 88 dBA (tie)
BMW may call it a Gran Coupe, but this 840i’s rear doors say sedan. This car’s sound comes from a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six that makes 335 horsepower. At wide-open throttle it makes as much noise as a lawnmower or a subway car, and it’ll get you to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds. There are more powerful 8-series variants—the M850i models have a 523-hp twin-turbo V-8—but this one is the loudest of the bunch.
Station wagon: 2020 Land Rover Range Rover Velar SV Autobiography Dynamic Edition: 89 dBA
It’s a matter of opinion whether you think the Land Rover Range Rover Velar is a station wagon or not. But it’s an indisputable fact that the Velar sounds incredible in this SV Autobiography Dynamic trim, which gives it a supercharged 5.0-liter V-8 that burbles with the best of them and helps the Velar reach 60 mph in a stunning 3.8 seconds. If all station wagons were like this, more people would buy them.
Targa: Loudest: 2019 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1: 99 dBA
Since we tested this car, the Corvette has entered a new generation and moved its engine behind the driver. But the high(er) performance variants of the mid-engine Vette aren’t on the market yet, so this 2019 ZR1 is still the loudest Targa we’ve tested. It—or really its 755-hp supercharged V-8—sang a 99-decibel swan song for the engine layout Chevrolet had relied upon since 1953 for its all-American sports car.
Van: 2019 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 3500XD Diesel DRW: 84 dBA
Many of the cars on this list are loud on purpose, but the Sprinter 3500 is just loud. This cargo van is powered by a turbocharged 3.0-liter diesel-burning V-6 engine, and has a dual-rear-wheel axle and a lot of open space inside for engine, wind, and road noise to boom around in. It may not offer the kind of symphony the other cars on this list can provide, but how much can you really expect from a cargo van?
Quickest Pickup Trucks We’ve Ever Tested
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