As a teenager, who had just started to enter the world of cars and bikes, I always had one big doubt in my mind. What is the difference between power and torque? Well, let’s find it out today!
Let us first get rid of the boring definition.
Torque is the rotating force that is produced by an engine due to the combustion at its crankshaft.
Power is the rate at which the engine does work.
But what we usually hear is the term Horsepower. Well, it’s a unit that was adopted at a time when horses were still used for transportation. Since the producers or manufacturers wanted to compare their steam engines and show how strong these engines were, they started equating them to the number of horses required to do the same work.
And this naming methodology remained. However, just like one hand being used as a reference measurement, one horsepower varied with the type, age and size of the horse.
Hence, current car manufacturers have given a standardized unit to Horsepower, which is equivalent to 746 Newtons force applied for one meter of distance for one second, which is not at all small.
Oh, if those units are alien to you, then it is 550 pounds for one foot applied for one second.
Whenever we go looking for a car, or whenever we see an advert, we always come across the horsepower of the car. All the cars are compared by how much horsepower they produce.
But in reality, that is just another marketing gimmick. What you are actually looking for is the torque produced by the engine.
Torque is the actual potential of the engine to produce work. All those 0-100 km/hr timings. All those high acceleration timings on the drag strip. All that is because of Torque.
A torquey engine is able to tug more weight with it, although at a much slower rate. Higher is the torque, more will you be pushed back into the speed with your eyes reaching the back of your head.
Horsepower is just a result of the torque. Engines can still produce torque at standstill, as it is the potential of the engine to turn the crankshaft. Horsepower is only produced when the car sets off the line.
What is the reason for the dependence of horsepower on the torque? Well, check out the formula.
Have a look at this small video by Engineering Explained to have a more clear view.
Interesting no? Yeup. Even I was dumbfounded. All these years I have been chasing for the ideal Power: Weight ratio. But what I should be looking for in a car would be the Torque.
In a city or sometimes on the highway, one would not be able to extract all the Horsepower from the engine. That only helps you to achieve higher top speeds.
As an enthusiast, one must chase the Torque value. A higher torque means more fun and more acceleration. The more get-up-and-go attitude the car has because of torque, the more exciting it is to drive.
A higher torque helps you reak out more fun from those twists and curves, as you get to put that ‘Torque’ down and achieve more acceleration!
Hope this has cleared all your doubts on Horsepower and torque!
Before ending, I would like to put out this classic definition: