When buying a new car there are many things to consider, like price, fuel efficiency and whether it suits the needs of you and your family. But one thing that sometimes goes under the radar until you’re actually behind the wheel is just how loud cars can be.
While some glide along with barely a whisper, others can be heard for miles around as they rev their engines.
Some noisy cars are caused by mechanical problems, while others are as a result of drivers adding modifications to their cars that make them louder. These modifications could increase your car insurance, and in some cases, you could be fined under noise pollution laws, with on-the-spot fines of £50.
But which cars in the UK are the loudest based on their dB(A) noise levels according to the Vehicle Certification Agency?
The noisiest car models
1. Jaguar F-Pace SVR, 19MY - 86 dB(A)
The loudest vehicle of the past five years is the 2019 version of the Jaguar F-Pace SVR, with a decibel level of 86.
To put that into context, it’s said that being exposed to noise over 70 dB(A) for a prolonged period of time could damage your ears.
The F-Pace is a powerful luxury crossover SUV that packs a punch, so it’s perhaps not surprising that it ranks among the loudest vehicles available.
The SVR is the most powerful version of the F-Pace, with a 5.0 Supercharged V8 engine. This is why its four huge exhaust pipes create such a racket.
However, Jaguar plans to make its whole range fully electric by 2025, so noisy models such as this could soon be a thing of the past.
2. Kia ProCeed MY22 - 79.68 dB(A)
While you might not expect a Kia to rank among the loudest cars in the country, it’s the 2022 model year ProCeed that comes in second place. The ProCeed has a noise level of 79.68 dB(A).
This is especially true of the 1.6-litre version of the latest ProCeed, which clocks up a noise level of 89.2 dB(A).
3. Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe - 78.50 dB(A)
Like the Jaguar F-Pace, the Mercedes GLE-Class is a luxury SUV and it’s similarly loud too, with an average noise level of 78.50 dB(A).
The Coupe only narrowly beat its fellow GLE-Class model, the GLE Estate Model, which has a decibel level of 78.17 dB9(A), in fourth place.
And following another Kia in fifth place (the Ceed), were 15 different vehicles all with a noise level of 75 dB(A).
They include four further Jaguars and three vehicles each from both Audi and the Morgan Motor Company.
The noisiest car manufacturers
1. Lotus - 73.65 dB(A)
Taking an average across all cars for each manufacturer in the last five years, the loudest (albeit by a small margin) is Lotus, with an average noise level of 73.65 dB(A).
Lotus is known for making high-performance sports cars and racing cars so it’s no real surprise that they’re among the loudest on the roads. The loudest individual models were the Evora and Exige.
While no Lotus model appeared in the loudest overall, the small number of models produced by them had a consistently high noise level.
2. Morgan Motor Company - 73.60 dB(A)
Narrowly behind Lotus is the Morgan Motor Company, one of the lesser-known vehicle manufacturers, but certainly not one of the quietest. This car manufacturer has an average noise level of 73.60dB(A).
Morgan is an English, family-owned manufacturer that makes just 850 cars a year, all by hand. The cars they manufacture are unusual among modern cars as they use wood in their construction.
They currently produce three different models: the Roadster 3.7, which has been in production since 2012, and the more recent Morgan Plus Six and Morgan Plus Four.
3. McLaren - 73.17 dB(A)
Another brand known for its high-performance vehicles comes in third place, with the average McLaren vehicle having a noise level of 73.17 dB(A).
McLaren makes supercars, vehicles where the noise level is pretty low down in the priorities, and their loudest model overall is the McLaren Coupé 720PS.
Like Lotus, McLaren produced a relatively low number of different models, with none appearing in the loudest overall, but their range as an average ranked them third as a brand.
Supercars are often amongst the worst offenders for vehicle noise and this has been proven with the introduction of new noise cameras.
These cameras can identify noise pollution from cars. A pilot scheme in Kensington & Chelsea revealed high numbers of noisy Lamborghini and Ferraris in the area.
The quietest car models
1. Lexus UX 300e - 62 dB(A)
Unsurprisingly, each of the cars with the lowest average noise levels were electric vehicles. The Lexus UX 300e is the quietest overall despite Lexuses in general being amongst the loudest cars.
The UX 300e has a reported noise level of 62 dB(A) which is around about the level of a normal conversation.
As well as the obvious lack of a petrol engine, Lexus has taken further steps to make the UX 300e quiet. These include applying extra insulation and aerodynamic shutters to reduce wind noise.
However, electric cars aren’t completely silent, as this could prove dangerous for blind and partially-sighted pedestrians.
For this reason, they emit artificial sounds so that people can at least hear them coming.
2. Mazda MX-30 - 63 dB(A)
The Mazda MX-30 is the second most quiet vehicle, coming in at just a decibel louder than the UX 300e, at 63 dB(A).
Again, the fact that it’s electric makes the MX-30 whisper-quiet, with subdued suspension, wind and tyre noise.
3. Suzuki Across - 64 dB(A)
Up by another decibel, we find the Suzuki Across, a plug-in hybrid that’s actually a rebadged version of the Toyota RAV4 PHEV for the European market.
A WhatCar? Review of the Across described the sound as “a cross between a Star Wars TIE Fighter and Darth Vader’s menacing breathing”. This may sound menacing, but at a level of just 64 dB(A), isn’t likely to get on anyone’s nerves!
The quietest car manufacturers
1. Mazda - 67 dB(A)
The quietest car brand overall is Mazda, with an average decibel level of 67 dB(A). The Japanese automaker has a number of electric models such as the MX-30, which contributes a lot to this low average.
The MX-30 is the quietest vehicle in Mazda’s lineup, followed by the CX-3 and Mazda3.
2. MG Motor - 68.32 dB(A)
In second place is MG Motor, a brand that wasn’t seen so much on British roads during the early 21st century. But it’s since made a comeback under new ownership in 2011.
Like Mazda, their quiet average noise level is largely due to the presence of electric vehicles in their fleet such as the MG ZS EV.
3. Nissan - 68.37 dB(A)
Not far behind MG is Nissan, with an average decibel level of 68.37 dB(A). Nissan is one of the world’s biggest car brands and sells vehicles under a number of different marques.
They’re also one of the world’s biggest manufacturers of electric vehicles, primarily the Nissan Leaf, which explains why they’re amongst the quietest.
Alex Kindred, car insurance expert at Confused.com, comments:
“Modifications are typically made to a car to either improve its performance, improve its appearance, or even maximise stereo functions. For many car enthusiasts, modifying vehicles is a popular hobby, and it has also become a big business across the world.
“However, some modifications can significantly boost a car's dB(A) noise levels. This in turn can lead to a £50 on-the-spot fines under noise pollution laws or furthermore an increase in car insurance premiums.
“Exhaust modifications are one of the greatest insurance boosters, as a result of the remarkable sounds that a larger exhaust can create. Although it’s not illegal to modify your exhaust for power purposes, the law states* that it’s illegal to modify a car’s existing exhaust to make more noise.
“If you do decide to modify your car, make sure you inform your insurer. If you fail to do so you may run the risk of voiding your policy cover.”
All data was collected from the Vehicle Certification Agency’s car fuel and emissions data from 2017 to 2021 and shows the reported noise level in decibels dB(A).
For each vehicle model and manufacturer, an average of all of the vehicles across all five years of data was taken.
Vehicles that showed a noise level of 0dB(A) were removed before calculating averages.
Note that some manufacturers don’t report data to the VCA each year so have had to be omitted.
*Information on vehicle modifications sourced from: https://www.gov.uk/noise-pollution-road-train-plane.