Car performance made easy: torque, horse power, capacity & engine configuration


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Torque in itself is not an indicator of power, the car with the fastest acceleration can sprint from a standstill to 60mph in 1.85 secs. What else? Dive in to find out!

The performance of a vehicle is an indicator of its power generation, power delivery and transmission capabilities. There are several parameters considered in the performance of a vehicle: torque, horse power, capacity, engine configuration, acceleration and transmission. Let's join Naijauto find out what does each of them mean to the vehicle performance!

1. Torque

This is simply a twisting force in physics usually found in rotating members such as shafts, rods and pulleys. In an automobile engine the twisting force is generated by the rotating crankshaft and multiplied or divided during delivery to the tires by the transmission. The torque showed in the table below is the value generated at the engine.

Torque in itself is not an indicator of power. Instead, it defines how fast the power generated can be sent to the transmission and wheels. This is important during acceleration and also affects the 0-60mph time of the vehicle. Its unit is pounds feet (lb-ft).


The Nissan Maxima is a car with good torque of 261 lb-ft

2. Horse power

The horse power is a unit of power derived from early wheeled cart systems pulled by horses. In an automobile engine the horse power is a product of the engine speed (measured in revolutions per minute), and the torque (measured in pounds feet).

In Nigeria, affordable cars with high horse power you can find are 2018 Toyota Camry XSE V6 - 306 hp, and 2018 Honda Civic Type R - 306 hp.

3. Capacity

In the internal combustion engine of a vehicle, the cylinders contain pistons which move up and down within boundaries in the cylinder. The top boundary is called the top dead centre (TDC) while the lower boundary is the bottom dead centre (BDC). The volume between the TDC and the BDC is the capacity of the engine including other cylinders in a multicylinder engine configuration. The higher the capacity of the engine the more fuel/air mix it can take in at a time to generate more power. It is measured in liters.

4. Engine configuration

This denotes the number of cylinders and the form or arrangement they take. It could either be in a straight line, V or W pattern. The second generation of the Acura MDX and Lexus RX both use the V-configuration for their engines.


The V-configuration arrangement used to align multiple cylinders in a smaller volume comes equipped in both cars

5. Acceleration (0-60mph time)

This sprint parameter is used to show the accelerating capacity of the car. It is the time the car takes to accelerate from 0 to 60 miles per hour.

The car with the best acceleration in 2019 is Rimac C TWO. It can sprint from a standstill to 60mph in 1.85 secs.

6. Transmission

Thetransmission of the Acura MDX

The transmission of the Acura MDX showing its gears

This is the gear set placed between the crankshaft and the wheels. The transmission is used to vary the power and torque from the engine ensuring proper delivery to the wheels. The gears are made up of different sizes and ratios. They’re usually 5 to 9 gears in total.

Hope you have had a little clearer understanding about car performance terms. For more knowledge about cars, stay tuned to our car tips and advice!

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