Does Torque Matter? Yes, But It Does Not Have To Be The Most Important Reason For Buying A Car!
In car reviews, ‘torque’ features predominantly, as one of the key performance advantages of any type of vehicle, to include electric cars and internal combustion engines (ICE).
However, in reality, most of us are absolutely clueless about terminology in relation to vehicle performance. I hear you, specially those of us who are just looking to acquire a ‘dream electric car’ and not a university degree in physics. But it pays to understand these concepts at some basic level. Remember the better informed you are as a buyer, the higher the probability you will buy a car that suits your requirements.
Not all of us regard insane brake horsepower, torque and acceleration as important. I certainly do not for everyday driving. If I do desperately need a ‘performance and power fix’, I will simply visit a race track. The point here is, do not be easily ‘seduced’ by performance metrics. I know the car reviewers will be aghast by my comments, but then keep in mind, they have all along only written for the ‘testosterone filled’ male audience.
We at e-zoomed prefer a more balanced approach to the target audience, and certainly hope that at least half the readers of our blog are women.
When buying an electric car, first assess your needs. As an example, is it for short local commutes i.e. school runs, local high street trips etc., or do you need the green car for long work commutes, carrying heavier loads? For most local commuting, a small pure electric car like a BMWi3 or a Nissan Leaf will do just fine. In general, smaller cars, which are lighter in weight, do not need substantial torque to travel efficiently. However, heavier vehicles like all-electric SUVs need more torque, hence more relevant. For such travel, pure electric SUVs, like the Jaguar I-PACE are appropriate, as the EV has both cabin space and torque!
So, What Is Torque?
Torque if the ‘turning or rotational power’ of the engine i.e. how much power can an engine produce. It is sometimes referred to as ‘oomph’ or ‘pulling power’. The turning power is similar to the power you have turning a wrench. Torque can be viewed as the ‘strength’ of the car. The greater the torque, the faster the acceleration that propels the vehicle from 0-60 mph, with you pushed against the seat. Torque is measured in Newton Metre (Nm).
Is Torque Better in Electric Vehicles Compared To Petrol & Diesel Cars?
Yes certainly, battery electric vehicles have better torque performance than internal combustion engines, hence the ‘torque of the town’! If in doubt, look at a traffic light that has both these types of cars. As the signal changes to green, the electric car will quickly leave behind the diesel and petrol cars. The primary reason for the superior acceleration in electric cars, is that, electric vehicles deliver ‘peak or maximum torque’ instantaneously, producing immediate acceleration. However, petrol and diesel cars take time to reach maximum or peak torque. In particular, diesel cars are known for being sluggish. Bottom-line, the better torque performance of electric cars, further contributes to the ‘fun factor’ in driving EVs compared to conventional cars.
Yes, it is true that many internal combustion engine cars can achieve higher top speeds compared to electric cars i.e. higher brake horsepower (bhp). However, if you are a good driver following the law, you will drive within the speed limit. Most EVs have top speeds between 90 to 120 mph, and in some cases even higher. But where can you use the higher ‘achievable speed’ of internal combustion engines, in particular in urban environments? Short answer: nowhere, except a legal race track!