That is a great way of putting it.It's not just the smell of the gasoline, it's the sensation of something powerful, and a little dangerous that you're "nominally" in control of. It's more than a whiff of fuel. It's the vibration of the engine and its effect on your seat. It's the highly audible, and often deliciously random sputtering as it breathes. One is acutely aware of such sensations.
I suppose an electric vehicle could incorporate "fake" gasoline engine sensations, but you'd always be aware that they're fake. It's almost impossible to viscerally fake an experience. It's analogous to why CGI doesn't "feel" as real as models in their attempting to "fake" an experience.