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Italian car manufacturer says Wales has the ‘best sounding tunnel’

28 Jan 2022 3 minute read
The Penmaenbach tunnel

Wales has the best sounding tunnel, according to an Italian car manufacturer.

Drivers through the Penmaenbach tunnel just to the west of Conwy on the A55 can now delight in the fact that they are driving through the best sounding tunnel of all – or at least, in the UK.

Italian car manufacturer Alfa Romeo joined forces with one of the UK’s leading acoustic consultancies, Sandy Brown, to create its ‘Sound Tunnel Index’.

To gather data, Alfa Romeo began by asking its ‘Alfisti’ fanbase to nominate the UK tunnels that provide the best acoustics.

The top 10 were shared with Sandy Brown, whose experts visited each tunnel armed with sound-measuring equipment and the 503 bhp, V6-engined Stelvio Quadrifoglio to give them a test run.

With the passenger window wound down, Sandy Brown drove the car through each tunnel, measuring the engine and exhaust sound, plus tyre, road and wind noise.

The results were then used alongside the drivers’ favourites to find Britain’s best tunnel.

Picture by Alfa Remero

The winner was the Penmaenbach tunnel in the north of Wales, which according to Alfa Remero benefitted from its twin-bore design that creates one-way traffic in each bore. Sandy Brown also praised the tunnel for its “excellent road surface” and “distinctive U-shaped profile”, which helped it achieve top spot.

Other tunnels that ranked highly were the Saltash tunnel in Cornwall, the Beaminster tunnel in Dorset, and the Hindhead tunnel in Surrey. The Holmesdale tunnel in Enfield and the two-kilometre Queensway tunnel that links Cheshire and Liverpool shared fifth place.

Further down the order were the Tyne tunnel on the A19 near Newcastle and the Dartford tunnel in Kent.

Richard King, an associate at Sandy Brown, suggested car enthusiasts could use the findings to help increase their enjoyment of road trips and their vehicles.

“The shape and size of tunnels, their length, the speed of the road, background sounds such as other cars, airflow and tyre noise, all have an impact on the sound you hear while driving through it,” he said.

“This is heightened in a performance SUV such as the Stelvio Quadrifoglio, where the combination of the V6 Bi-Turbo engine and exhaust sound add to the excitement, so this index will help petrolheads and car lovers across the UK make the most of their drives.”

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David Mortimer-Jones
David Mortimer-Jones
2 years ago

The acoustic nature of the old tunnel has been enjoyed my many locals and for me since childhood (over seventy years) by the custom of always honking your horn several times when passing through it. I’ve noticed this practice is no longer as prevalent as it used to be and I stopped doing it when I decided it may be confusing to the uninitiated and potentially dangerous now it’s a one way system.

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