Role of Torque and Horsepower (HP)in Cars

As you try and understand what’s ‘goes on under the hood of that car you are evaluating to buy, one of the key hints we got from Riverside Volkswagen dealer about a cars power and performance capability are the Horsepower and Torque. For the absolute layperson, if you are looking at a compact car and it has a very high horsepower in its specs, you know that you are looking a car which could be something related to a sport car. If you are on the other hand looking at a SUV or a pickup or truck a high horsepower is naturally expected, but what you would tell you more about the capability of the vehicle is the torque.

There are a lot of factors in a car that depend on the HP and Torque.We try to explore what roles these values play in cars.

What exactly are HP and Torque

Horsepower represented by ‘HP’ or ‘hp’ is the power provided by the car’s engine to its crankshaft which turns the wheels of your car through a network of mechanical parts. In classical or academic terms, one horsepower is the power required to pull a weight of 550 pounds in a time frame of one second or 33,000 pounds for one foot in a minute. It basically tells you how much work can be done in a certain time frame or more specifically the rate of doing work. Car makes mention the horsepower in terms such as ‘180hp @5200 rpm’ which means you have a engine power of 180hp that causes the crankshaft to turn at a speed of 5200 revolutions per minute.

In scientific terms, Torque is the measure of the amount of force that is required to be exerted on an object to make it rotate on its axis. In cars, the torque is the turning force the engine generates on the crankshaft given the horsepower its engine can provide. Torque is measured in pounds-per-foot and represented by the units lb-ft. Torque is shown in terms such as 185lb-ft @ 5200 rpm.

Roles Torque and HP play in cars

Engineers involved in designing and building the cars evaluate the total size, curb weight and desired performance capabilities of the vehicle to arrive at the required engine horsepower and torque values.

The horsepower rating of a car tells you how fast your car could go depending on how big or heavy the vehicle is. Now that you know that you have a car that would go fast, you are probably also looking at how quickly you would cross that 0-60 barrier or how good a vehicle could be at towing something. The Torque tells you something about this.

Both the torque and horsepower have their effect on speed and mileage. Hence, to achieve better fuel economy an engine with slightly lesser horsepower is ideal. In cases of SUVs and trucks being managed at Riverside VW, higher capability, towing capacity and performance is expected along with fuel economy which makes balancing these requirements with the horsepower and torque quite challenging.

Even more challenging is to ensure consistent performance of vehicles in all types of roads such as those with lots of curves, twists and turns. In such case torque-vectoring, a technology that distributes torque across the wheels separately comes to the rescue.

Author: Robin Gupta