It's clear these manufacturers design their motors to sound good and the buyers expect them to sound like they sound. But mechanically, how do they manage to have such a distinct sound? Could other smaller motors have an equally pleasant sound?

  • "To deliver a suitable automotive symphony, engineers went to work fine-tuning various parts of the car’s engine, chiefly its intake and exhaust bits, while leaving big-ticket components, like the cylinder block, alone. Changing the way the air goes in, changing the way the exhaust gasses and the sound is coming out, changing the engine management system, changing the throttle progression, those enable us to give it an Aston character rather than the AMG character" - autoguide.com/auto-news/2017/10/…
    – F Dryer
    Sep 12, 2022 at 21:11

1 Answer 1


A lot of the European cars use what's called a flat-plane crank as opposed to a crossplane crank as seen in most American V8's. There are a few exceptions, like Ford running a cross-plane crank in some of the Mustangs. The flat-plane is so called because all of the rod journals are on the same plane with each other, where a crossplane crank has four throws at 90° to each other. The flat-plane crank configuration, along with a different firing order, as well as exhaust differences, create the different sound then what you're used to.

If by "smaller" you mean a 4-cylinder, no. The note comes about because it has more cylinders to fire per revolution of the crankshaft. A 4-cylinder is already a flat-plane crank, as all of its throws are on the same plane.

  • While there are some European V8s (notably Ferrari and the McLaren P1) that have a flat-plane crank both Maserati and Aston Martin use cross-plane cranks (although the upcoming Valhalla should be getting the flat-plane engine from the AMG GT range) Sep 12, 2022 at 13:58
  • @motosubatsu - You may be right about the Maserati, however, my assertion is, when people start talking about how "European cars sound different" the reason is because of the flat-plan crank design. I stated "most European", because I believed the OP was asking about a "general" idea and used Maserati's and Aston Martin as names which fall in this genre. Sep 12, 2022 at 14:55
  • that's my point though, flat-plane cranks aren't actually that common in European cars. The majority you see will actually be crossplane, and since the OP mentioned two manufacturers, neither of whom currently has a flat-plane engine in a production car I think that's unlikely to be the source of what the OP is asking about Sep 12, 2022 at 16:24

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .