What’s better, horsepower or torque?

Both, which combine to make Average power.

We shall establish 3 things after the break:

-Torque measures instantaneous acceleration

-Torque applied over several thousand RPMs measures total acceleration

-Gearing scales torque at the wheels

Now picture this:

Car A makes 600 lb-ft from 1000-4000 RPM

Car B makes 600 lb-ft from 1000-7000 RPM

Identical weight, gearing, wheels.

3,2,1, Takeoff!

A and B are neck and neck UNTIL 3000 RPM where A shifts into 2nd gear, dropping its torque at the wheels. Meanwhile, still in 1st gear, B rockets ahead, and eventually wins the race.

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What’s the difference? Car B applied more torque at the wheels for a longer period of time, because 1st gear lasted longer). Car B had more average power because its rev range lasted twice as long.