BMW is aware that while electric vehicles offer a high level of comfort by being relatively silent, the driving experience does lose a certain degree of emotionality. To provide a rich aural experience to drivers behind the wheel, there’s the BMW IconicSounds Electric, which is a sound portfolio for BMW models powered by a fully electric or plug-in hybrid drive system.
Developed in collaboration with award-winning composer Hans Zimmer, the person behind scores for films like The Lion King, Blade Runner 2049, Dunkirk and the The Dark Knight Trilogy, IconicSounds Electric will feature in the company’s models like the iX, i4 as well as the upcoming M version of i4.
Working with Renzo Vitale, creative director of sound at the BMW Group, Zimmer developed a range of drive sounds that company says will “put smiles on the faces of customers keen to experience ‘Sheer Driving Pleasure’ with all the senses.”
For the i4, the IconicSounds Electric in Comfort mode provides an immersive and pleasant atmosphere, but when the driver steps on the accelerator, the sound experience deepens as load and speed increase. The car’s aural spectrum is made more dominant and powerful in Sport mode, while Eco Pro reduces the acoustic feedback to nothing.
However, for the M version of the i4, a different sound profile is required to distinguish it as the performance-focused model. “Every BMW has its own character, which is reflected in the sound it makes. So, for the electrically driven BMW M models we have developed a driving sound which accentuates their emotional driving experience particularly vividly and ensures their performance can be felt with even greater intensity,” Zimmer explained.
The version of IconicSounds Electric developed specifically for electrified BMW M models is said to have a drive sound that is charged with extra energy, with an even greater differentiation between Comfort and Sport modes. In a short video discussing the collaboration, you can get a sample of what the first-ever electrified BMW M model sounds like at the 1:30 mark.
“When you press the pedal of an M car, you suddenly get goosebumps all over your body. We translated this feeling into a drive sound that expresses a fusion of superior power and flowing energy,” said Vitale.
Zimmer and Vitale have worked together in the past to develop the driving sound for the Vision M Next as well as the Concept i4. The learnings from both concepts are used to create IconicSounds Electric for series-production vehicles. The system is standard on the iX and can be specified as an option for the i4, with existing customers able to active it via a remote software upgrade.
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