Is A Rolls-Royce Quieter Than A Smart Fortwo Electric Car?


What about ICE “quiet” cars?

We recently published an article speaking to the “quiet car” rules. Some commenters said that quiet ICE cars should be subject to the same rules as EVs. If the ruling is really to keep pedestrians safe, quiet cars that are powered by gasoline should also have to emit a sound at low speeds. How does the epitome of luxury — a Rolls-Royce —  compare to an itty, bitty electric city car when it comes to a lack of sound?

Rolls-Royce promises that its aptly-named Phantom is the quietest “motor” car in the world. Does this mean it’s even quieter than an electric car? Sometimes we have to take these promises with a grain of salt. Are we talking about quiet on the outside (meaning a quiet engine and quiet operation)? Or, quiet to the driver and passengers (meaning state-of-the-art sound insulation in addition to the latter)?

If you ask Rolls-Royce, it will tell you the goal is to achieve both. If a car can drive effortlessly down the road absorbing all bumps and has an incredibly refined engine, it may well be quiet in most all cases. Additionally, the use of super high-quality materials assures that the cabin is kept incredibly quiet and devoid of almost all outside sound.

Let’s cut to the chase. This YouTuber puts a Rolls-Royce Phantom to the test against a smart fortwo ED convertible. Interestingly — although primarily unrelated — you can purchase about 17 smart fortwo convertible’s for every Roll-Royce Phantom.

He tests the sound inside each car at highway speeds. Sadly, he doesn’t test the sound outside the cars, but that’s really not the point we’re addressing here, as we explain in the conclusion below. It’s also important to note that he’s just using a simple decibel meter smartphone app, however, it’s probably more than good enough to prove his point. Also, let’s remember that a convertible (especially a very cheap one) is going to have more cabin noise than just about any non-convertible model. Remember, what’s important is how quiet the Rolls is, not how loud the smart car may be.

Check out the video for more details.

The point in the end though, at least from an EV owner’s perspective, would be how quiet the Rolls-Royce truly is. It really makes no difference which car it’s compared to, where the testing is done, how the testing is done, etc. Rolls-Royce advertises the world’s quietest car. Despite this silly experiment, we already know that the automaker has some truth behind its claim. To top it off, the video does show that the car is pretty darn silent in comparison to many, if not all, sound tests we’ve published. Why then are EVs the only cars subject to the “quiet car” rule? What do you think?

Video Description via Luxury Lives On on YouTube:

One of the things Rolls Royce is famous for other than its high price tags and absorbent leather seats is its silence. I thought it would an interesting idea to put this silence up to the test. Its rival? My Smart Car which uses a technology growing fast today in cars to achieve its silence, the electric motor. I measure the interior sounds of both of these cars to determine if quality will win over technology!

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10 Comments on "Is A Rolls-Royce Quieter Than A Smart Fortwo Electric Car?"

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I can now see why some fans of Smart were really put off of the Smart ForTwo gaining too much in width…

The question is already flawed. What is this test supposed to demonstrate? And why is it an EV vs. combustion engine car? At highway speed the majority of sound generation comes from the road conditions, type of tires, vehicle weight, and aerodynamics. The engine type does not matter (unless you suddenly accelerate a high powered engine). Furthermore, they measure on the inside, which mostly measures how well your sound proofing performs. So basically they measure a bunch of artefacts which are irrelevant to the question or the test conditions. An equally dumb test would be to measure the sound of a combustion car with a stop-start automatic vs. an electric car at standstill. So the title should read “Is A Rolls-Royce Better Soundproof Than A Smart Fortwo Electric Car?”.

Results @ ~6:28, if you want to skip. But yeah, his test is irrelevant to the noisemaker issue.

Were’s the noise level on the outside?

It would have been nice. But, it doesn’t really matter that much. The whole point is, at least from IEV perspective – regardless of the cars being compared, the tools used, the level of “science” in the experiment, etc. – the Rolls-Royce Phantom claims to be the world’s quietest car, and does so publicly. This video shows that it’s pretty darn quiet compared to almost any other decibel measurement we’ve published. The car has been shown to be absurdly quiet inside and out on many occasions. Yet, despite Rolls advertising it that way and the car proving time and time again that it’s nearly silent, the “quiet car” rule doesn’t apply to it since it has an engine.

The only factor that matters is the decibel rating on the outside when it is below 20 mph. The quiet car standard really goes away even at 20mph because the tire noise is enough at those speeds. I doubt if a Rolls is that quiet at low speeds. Even the low hum of an idling motor should be enough. It takes very little sound to overcome the low bar set by the regulation. For example, the sound most Evs are required to make is lower than the sound even their own ACs make. The reaction against noisemakers is blown way out of proportion.

The GM Wuling Baojun E100 2-seater City EV is as quiet as both
– and (ssh!) sells for approx. half the price of the Smart in China.
So circa $6000.
The media’s SILENCE now re this little GM EV-truth-exposer is truly DEAFENING.

They *did* rightly rave about it though:

Now they’ve buried it.
InsideEVs likewise never mentions it anymore.

Paul G

The test is completely flawed, using a convertible vs. a hard top and on the freeway immediately invalidates it. Don’t enter it on a science fair.

I make that very clear in the article, as well as the point that from an EV owner’s perspective the only info to glean here is that the Rolls-Royce is very quiet. The company advertises it as the quietest car on earth, yet EVs will get pedestrian alert sounds and not the Rolls. Just interesting that’s all.

EV sound alert is legislation conspiracy driven by ICE makers. LOL, No really, ROFLMAO