Spec and span: A guide to the common vehicle terms

Spec and span: A guide to the common vehicle terms

Knowing the fundamentals of how a car operates and drives will help you select what kind style of car best suits your needs. To help you choose your new car, we've selected 8 of the most often-used spec sheet terminology.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • What are the differences between horsepower and torque?

    Torque, on the other hand, is the amount of force the engine is able to exert in order to drive the vehicle forward. Horsepower is the amount of power produced by the engine as it transforms air and fuel into energy.
  • What kinds of transmissions are found in vehicles?

    Transmissions come in four main categories these days: manual, automatic (or torque converter), automated manual, dual-clutch transmission (DCT), and continuously variable gearbox (CVT)
  • Engine Displacement

    Engine displacement is the sum of the cylinders' individual volumes, expressed in cubic centimeters, or cc. Consider a water bottle with a volume of 499.5cc, which corresponds to 1 engine cylinder, to put things in perspective. Add three more containers, this time of the same volume. The combined volume will then be 1,988cc.

    Mazda MX-30 e-Skyactiv R-EV PHEV__rotary engine generator (6)

    That translates to a 4-cylinder engine with a 1,998cc displacement, which is typically rounded off to 2.0L in spec sheets. The Mazda 3, which has a 1,998cc (or 2.0-liter) engine, is the best illustration of this.

    Horsepower and Torque

    Torque, on the other hand, is the amount of force the engine is able to exert in order to drive the vehicle forward. Horsepower is the amount of power produced by the engine as it transforms air and fuel into energy. 'Hp' and 'Nm', where 'hp' refers to horsepower and 'Nm' stands for Newton meters, are frequently used by local automakers to denote a vehicle's horsepower and torque rating.

    Transmission

    The transmission is a part that transfers torque from the engine to the drive wheels, allowing the car to move.

    Mazda MX-5 100th Anniversary Special Edition

    Transmissions come in four main categories these days: manual, automatic (or torque converter), automated manual, dual-clutch transmission (DCT), and continuously variable gearbox (CVT). The manual transmission gives drivers complete control over gear changes, whilst the automatic transmission eliminates the need for clutch and gear-shifting manual operation to offer a more comfortable and convenient driving experience.

    The layout of an automated manual transmission is almost identical to that of a conventional manual transmission, but a computer and an electronic control system are used to engage and release the clutch and handle the vehicle's gear shifting.

    2022 Suzuki Celerio AGS Shifter

    A DCT will function like a manual transmission, but it can row through gears and remove the clutch thanks to two clutches and mechanical or electrical actuation.

    Contrarily, the CVT is identical to an automatic but provides a smoother driving experience because it no longer needs to change gears to raise or decrease speed. Imagine it as a single gear that can automatically change to low, medium, or high speeds. A good example of a vehicle using this style of transmission is the Ford Territory.

    Drivetrain

    The drive wheels, or wheels that the engine and transmission drive, are referred to in this sentence. Front-wheel drive (FWD), rear-wheel drive (RWD), all-wheel drive (AWD), and four-wheel drive (4WD) are the most popular drivetrain configurations.

    Subaru Outback

    FWD layouts are used by small vehicles like the Kia Picanto to match its subcompact size, whereas RWD layouts are used by high-performance vehicles or larger vehicles like the Toyota 86 and the Toyota Innova for superior handling, stability under heavy loads, or other reasons depending on the category. While crossovers like the Honda CR-V and Subaru Forester are available with AWD, cars like the Mitsubishi Montero Sport can be purchased with 4WD. Both of the drivetrains enable it to perform effectively on varied or uneven road surfaces since power and torque are distributed to all 4 wheels, enhancing grip.

    Dimensions

    The body of a car has three dimensions: length, width, and height. Additionally, it includes the maximum cargo (the amount of cargo the vehicle can carry inside the cabin when its rear seats are folded down), ground clearance (the height or measurement of the space between the vehicle's underbody and the road surface), trunk capacity, and wheelbase (the length of the lower body between the front and rear wheels).

    Mitsubishi Xpander Cross Rear Quarter

    ABS and EBD

    The Anti-lock Braking System is referred to as ABS. It is a mechanism that keeps the wheels from locking up fully, keeping the tires from skidding. It makes it possible for the driver to brake more forcefully to avoid a collision. Contrarily, EBD stands for Electronic Brake-force Distribution. Depending on the situation and weight carried by the vehicle (i.e., passengers and luggage), it automatically adjusts and balances the braking power to the front and back wheels.

    Honda Sensing Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Low-Speed Follow (LSF)

    Cruise Control

    The fundamental purpose of cruise control is to enable the driver to set the car to maintain a specific pace without pressing the accelerator. With adaptive cruise control, certain cars take it to the next level. This makes use of a radar and/or camera system to keep an eye on the traffic up ahead and safely change the vehicle's speed.

    Infotainment

    A touchscreen LCD with a greatly decreased amount of physical control buttons makes up an infotainment system, although more basic models still use a traditional knob and button arrangement. Its capabilities include playing music and movies, showing vehicle data and a live feed from the reverse camera, and even showing electronic road maps with GPS navigation. Along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, some systems also have connectivity functions that let users access the internet or conduct hands-free phone calls.

    Mitsubishi Xpander Cross Infotainment

    Knowing at least the fundamental lingo used by automakers to describe their products is beneficial. You'll not only be able to learn more, but you'll also be able to avoid the stress of trying to decide which car best suits your needs or preferences. This short guide should be useful to you.

    Photos from Honda, Hyundai, Mazda, Subaru, and Roy Robles

    Dylan Afuang

    Dylan Afuang

    Growing up in the 2000s, Dylan browsed through car magazines before reading proper books, and watched motoring TV shows as often as he did cartoons. So, talking about cars came natural to him. His dream car is the Honda S2000.

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