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Horsepower vs. Torque: What Really Matters in Car Acceleration

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Torque versus horsepower, now here is an interesting little equation that a lot of us know very little about, but want to know a lot more about!  This has been a long discussed subject, the difference between horsepower and torque.  What is interesting though, is that the two factors are not to be pitted against each other, and that horsepower is actually a manifestation of torque. 

Before we dive into a compare and contrast of torque versus horsepower, lets first take a look at the definitions of the terms involved taken direct from the dictionary:

  • “Horsepower.  A unit of power equal to 550 foot-pounds per second (745.7 watts).  The power of an engine measured in terms of this.”
  • “Torque.  Horsepower is the total power output of an engine, while torque measures the “turning/torqueing ability” of the engine. Practically, torque is a better measurement of how quickly your car will accelerate, while horsepower (relative to weight) is a better measure of your car’s top speed.”

The definition for torque gave an insight as to what we are really looking at here.  We need not pit the two factors against each other.  Torque is what occurs within the engine itself, and is what turns the driveshaft.  Torque is the true power of the engine itself.  Remember, to torque means to turn, and the power of an engine is its capacity and ability to turn with a lot of strength and a lot of speed.

So, torque sends power to the driveshaft, and that power is then amplified by the gears in the transmission, which then flows power to the wheels themselves.  This amplified power is the horsepower itself.  The horsepower is quite impressive, because it is the culmination of all of the combined power of the car’s engine, transmission, driveshaft, and wheels.  So, as mentioned in the definition for torque, the torque of the car is what will determine (more or less) how fast the car accelerates, whereas the horsepower will determine what the top speed (gears and tires taken into account) of the car is.

What This Means for You

In summary, what does this all mean for you?  Honestly, not much!  And why?  Because nine times out of ten torque and horsepower work well together and simply complement each other.  The two go hand in hand.  Look at it this way.  A car that has a lot of torque, simply stated, is almost always going to have a lot of horsepower.  The exception this this rule is of course of road vehicles.  An off road vehicle will have massive torque but lower gear ratios for more power in low gears and lower top speeds as a result.  But, as mentioned above, nine times out of ten cars that have high torque also have high horsepower, and vice versa.

Professional Motor Sales is Here to Help

For your next car buying experience, whatever it may be, Professional Motor Sales is here to help.  We are a premier automotive dealer, and we can help you with any questions you might have.  If you are very interested in comparisons of torque and horsepower, feel free to contact us and we will gladly reference you comparisons of the cars that you are interested in.  We can be reached at 844-582-6845.  Or better yet, why don’t you come in for a test drive?  If you want to compare the torque and the horsepower of a car or two, we would be more than happy to assist you with that.  We want you to get exactly what you want, so test driving is an A-Okay thing with us!

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