Hans Zimmer is bringing back the aural pleasures in fully-electric BMW M cars

Accelerating out of a corner in second gear, you increase the throttle input and the engine makes more beautiful intake and exhaust notes as it reaches the next bend. Unfortunately, the required shift to fully electric powertrain means the end of noises from combustion engines. Or is it?

As BMW is moving towards a product line-up with more electric vehicles (EV), the brand that’s famously known with the tagline “Sheer Driving Pleasure” is also moving to reinstate the various acoustic properties generally linked to enthusiastic driving and pleasure.

Hans Zimmer, film music creator and Academy Award winner that has worked on blockbuster movies such as Inception, Gladiator and The Dark Knight, is collaborating with BMW M to compose a soundtrack that is emotionally rich as the driver accelerates in a fully-electric BMW M car.

Zimmer had previously been involved in the development of an inspiring ready-to-drive sound for electrically powered BMWs which instils a sense of excitement at the prospect of electric driving when the Start button is pressed. The latest chapter in this collaboration covers drive sounds for the BMW iX and BMW i4, including a differentiated sound for the M-specification version of the BMW i4.

Zimmer said, “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.”

Similar to current BMW electrified (PHEV) models, different driving modes have different sound profiles channelled into the cabin. For the upcoming BMW iX, the new IconicSounds Electric feature will provide an immersive and pleasant atmosphere under the Comfort driving mode, while Eco Pro mode goes into full silent mode.

Switching to Sport mode, the car’s aural spectrum is more dominant and powerful, the sound providing a constant commentary on the driving situation. Drive system processes are registered within milliseconds and acceleration, load changes or recuperation given a suitable acoustic accompaniment.

In the version developed specifically for electrified BMW M models, the drive sound of the BMW i4 is charged with extra energy, together with larger differentiation from Comfort to Sport modes.

Acceleration sparks a rich intensification of the soundtrack’s development, authentically reflecting the car’s performance character. “When you press the pedal of an M car, you suddenly get goosebumps all over your body,” says Creative Sound Designer at BMW Group, Renzo Vitale. “We translated this feeling into a drive sound that expresses a fusion of superior power and flowing energy.”

BMW is certainly putting all the expertise and know-how they have to ensure the brand values are retained with the shift from six- and eight-cylinder powertrains to fully electric systems. The company has been fine-tuning the input-output parameters of the new BMW i4 to ensure spontaneous reactions to every movement – not just from the accelerator pedal but also from the steering and brake pedal.

The IconicSounds Electric feature is set to be standard in the BMW iX and can be specified as an option for the upcoming BMW i4. What’s more, the new sounds can be imported retrospectively via Remote Software Upgrade, should the customer wish.

The new spectrum includes one ready-to-drive sound and one-stop sound, plus a driving sound which will be made available in the relevant version for BMW models and BMW M cars with electrified drive system.


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