Q: I’m a car novice and I want some basic information on cars like what RPM, torque and BHP mean. Also when buying a car, what do I need to keep in mind?
Umashankar, via email
AAA: That is a lot of info to fit into a single answer but we’ll try our best. RPM stands for Revolutions Per Minute, or how fast the engine is spinning. A diesel engine usually has a lower maximum RPM than a petrol. This brings us to torque and power. At a basic level, torque represents how drivable the engine is – for example, a high-torque engine will allow you to pull away from low speeds in a higher gear, and will let you climb steep inclines without revving it too much. A diesel, as a rule, has more torque than a similarly sized petrol. BHP stands for Brake Horse Power and represents outright power. It is the benchmark for pure performance an engine can offer in terms of acceleration and top speed. A higher-BHP engine will almost always outperform a lower-BHP engine, provided everything else (vehicle weight, etc) stays the same. A petrol engine will almost always make more BHP than a similarly sized diesel engine. Buying a car is a very unique decision – it depends on several aspects and your priorities – performance, comfort, fuel economy, design or a mix of all these in various combinations. We suggest you go through Autocar India and WhatCar? magazines on a regular basis to help you decide on the car that best suits your needs.