THE only noise coming from the generously proportioned tyres fitted to this week’s drive was the squish of high-grade rubber on the hallowed cobbles of Bath’s Royal Crescent. Though this luxury car has a massive 3.7-litre V6 petrol engine underneath its equally well-proportioned bonnet, the Infiniti Q50 glided around Bath’s famous curving showpiece street with all the silent majesty of a ship under sail.
Horses and carriages, which cantered up and down the Royal Crescent over previous centuries serving the grand houses that enjoy a pristine view of the city would have made far more noise than the Q50.
The reason? This large, prestigious vehicle is a hybrid. And as we all know, hybrids — cars that run by coupling a conventional engine with a small electric one — make hardly any noise at all in electric vehicle mode. While I enjoyed the moment — there is something truly magical about driving around Bath’s finest architectural achievement — the days of the noiseless hybrid look numbered.
Last week Euro MPs decided that electric and hybrid cars would have to generate some sound to make them safer for pedestrians, especially the visually impaired. Under the revised rules, new models of electric and hybrid vehicles will have to relinquish their silence by 2019. The new law should be rubber-stamped by the European Council.
So while this big beast has its quiet side, its successors will surely emit something other than the distinct growl you get from that big engine when you put your foot down.