Ford revealed an industry-first programmable quiet mode for its Mustang GT sports car August 1 – informally coined “Good Neighbour Mode” – following a single noise complaint—and consumer feedback at large.
A noise-violation complaint filed with police against the Dearborn-based automaker’s former head of vehicle engineering, Steve Von Foerster, had the company re-thinking its exhaust volume levels—but it sought a solution that mitigated noise complaints without permanently muting its V8-powered sports car’s roar.
Von Foerster had fired up the brand’s gloriously-loud Shelby GT350 coupe on the morning in question that led to his eventual interaction with local police.
He says he wasn’t upset with his neighbour, but rather was empathetic, understanding the flat-plane-crankshaft-spun V8’s aggressive auditory output is best appreciated under the right circumstances—namely, away from your neighbour’s lazy weekend morning routine.
But track days start early, so what is the owner of a brutish, high-volume sports car to do?
Von Foerster, who conveniently had moved to lead Ford’s user experience team in product development, found the solution in the form of a programmable exhaust valve-based silencer adjunct dubbed the “Active Valve Performance Exhaust.”
This new exhaust volume feature can be programmed to operate in quiet mode – which Ford says emits roughly the same amount of noise as a dishwasher – during pre-set time periods, for example between the hours of 9:00 pm and 8:00 am. Furthermore, the system can be operated in multiple noise levels, ranging from quiet to normal, sport, and track.
“I love the sound of the V8, but it can be loud, and you can’t annoy people like that in your neighbourhood,” said von Foerster.
“It sounds so cool, but I thought, ‘There has to be a way to give people more control over the engine’s sound.’”
Exhaust volume levels can be selected from the Mustang’s in-dash instrument cluster to adjust on-the-fly, perhaps at the sight of an upcoming tunnel.
Ford took a wide sampling of consumer feedback into consideration before pulling the trigger on its new quiet mode, referencing the results of a poll by Ranker.com that determined most people find loud engine revving annoying when they’re at home—the sound was outranked only by early-morning lawn mowing. Dog-barking, power-tools, and band practice also made the shortlist.
Ford’s new quiet mode will come standard on the newly-refreshed 2018 Mustang GT when it reaches Canadian showrooms later this year.