It could be argued that there are two types of engines loved by gearheads the world over. First is the screaming, high-revving type where most of the sauce piles on as the revs climb towards a maniacal redline for a feeling of endless progress through each gear. And second is the meaty, torque-rich engine, which is typically massive in displacement, or turbocharged, to give drivers plenty of pull, straight away, when their boot drops. Less revving, more thrust, and equally entertaining, if for different reasons.
It’s rpm versus torque. Right-now power, or a ‘wait for it’ wave of forward velocity delivered across a vast range of revs. Exciting rising action, or right-the-heck-now bursts of f-bomb eliciting acceleration. Smashing versus surging through the gears. Some drivers have no preference in the choice between revs and torque. Others do. There are pros and cons to each. Things people love, and things they don’t.
Which is better? There’s no correct answer. It’s all up to your tastes.
Mine lean towards the revs. Funny, as the owner of a Dodge Viper which has about a diesel-like 5,000-rpm redline before the internals of its caveman-engineered V10 would likely fling themselves apart. I’m all for on-demand torque, and heaps of it, but personally, I tend to like a rev-happy engine that winds up to nearly inappropriate revs even more. To me, this is more exciting, typically better sounding, and more exhilarating an open-throttle experience.
Which is why I loved the last-generation BMW M3. Loved it. I figured that, as a performance car charged with putting on a performance, a show, if you will, that it just nailed it. The way the M3 made you feel, the soundtrack, the action, and the performance it put on were virtually second to none. That’s because of how the steering was tuned, the lightweight, high-energy, precision feel dialed in, and the lightning fast gear changes. And, of course, because of its high-strung 4.0L, 414-horsepower, hand-built V8, which sang a glorious song as it wound to its 8,300 rpm redline.
That delicious little V8 was just the craziest. Revving a V8 to 8,300 rpm is like chugging a case of Red Bull and jumping nude into a bucket of ice: stimulating, exhilarating, and bound to take your breath away while puckering up various parts of your body. [Watch the video for some great footage on the last-gen M3, singing for the camera.]