Alpine EVs Won’t Make Fake Engine Sounds

Alpine EVs Won’t Make Fake Engine Sounds

The new Alpine A290 could well turn out to be one of the most convincing efforts to produce a proper electric hot hatch yet. With a better power-to-weight ratio than any rival, and the chassis know-how of the team that was once Renaultsport behind it, it may well break the streak of somewhat disappointing efforts so far.

Of course, there are those who’ll argue that a true hot hatch can never be electric because losing the combustion engine robs it of one key thing: a proper noise. Those who’ve made performance-biased EVs so far have taken different approaches to this. The Abarth 500e has tried to directly recreate the characteristic burble of its petrol predecessor, but it’s obnoxiously loud and doesn’t react like a petrol engine would when you come off throttle.

The much more powerful Hyundai Ioniq 5 N does things a bit better, offering a variety of soundscapes including, hilariously, a fighter jet noise, but also integrating the neat ‘e-Shift’ feature that manages to accurately recreate the feel of a gearbox.

But what of the A290? It gets two switchable sounds, one that’s closer to the futuristic hum we’re used to from EVs and one that throws in a bit more of a combustion-ish rumble without ever going the full way to try and recreate it like in the Abarth. There are no Hyundai-like attempts to recreate the behaviour of a petrol engine, though.

Alpine A290 - interior

Alpine A290 – interior

Car Throttle attended a preview event for the A290, where we had the chance to speak to Alpine’s CEO Philippe Krief and its vice president of product performance, Sovany Ang.

“It was a long discussion,” said Ang, when asked if there was ever any consideration of trying to replicate the sound of a petrol engine on the A290. “We wanted to provide sensations that are true to hot hatches, but we didn’t want to recreate an ICE sound.

“We wanted something very authentic that was not fake,” she continued “and also that really gave the feedback of what was happening with the car.”

Alpine A290 - rear

Alpine A290 – rear

Krieff reiterated this decision: “The easy way would have been to reproduce an ICE [sound]… but this is a real electric engine sound.”

While it remains one of the biggest sticking points around electric cars for enthusiasts, then, it seems that Alpine has no plans to try and recreate the throaty gargle of an old Clio 200, or the burbly whump of a Clio V6 (unlike the last Clio RS, ironically, which did have an onboard sound generator to make up for its disappointing turbo four) – we’ll have to get used to its future cars making a different, if still distinctive sound.

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