Yeah, thats the difference. A healthy V8 breathing through longtubes and a catted X, maybe 'loud' but is inherently an admirable sound, a true piece of the American dream, and people enjoy and admire that on some level, even if subconsciously. If the car looks clean and well maintained, it 'fits' and cops are more likely to be lenient.
A 1.8L motor screaming through some fart can like a nest of radioactive bees trying to mate all at once is more of an assault to the senses and many times these things are hung off a car with primered wings and budget eBay body panels just barely held together with mismatched and ill-fitting fasteners. Less likely to get a blind eye truned in those instances.
Frankly, Im OK with it.
lol like your description of a small engines exhaust