Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Did I Miss The Memo Saying That All UK Torque Figures Are In "Nm" Now?

A localised rant if you don't mind. Just under a month ago, I was reading a brochure for the Peugeot RCZ that I "requested" at Goodwood (TBH when someone asks I just think "yeah why not" and get a brochure for something I'll never buy) when I spotted that the torque figure was in Newton metres (Nm), with no translation to lb/ft. Remembering that a Mercedes announcer gave the SLS E-Cell's torque in Nm at the FOS, I started looking around and all European companies are at it, even British ones like Vauxhall and Jaguar. Why change a long-standing unit to something that very few people here have any sense of scale for?

I'd be OK with it if there was a translation to lb/ft, but everyone just seems to have quietly switched units and assumes that people who actually consider such figures know how Nm relates to lb/ft. I also get that it's something that started in mainland Europe, which is all-metric (like using PS instead of BHP and confusing us into thinking, for example, that a Veyron has 1001bhp when it actually has 987, or 1001PS) that's now moved over here. But again, I personally have absolutely no bearings for Newton Metres beyond knowing - thanks to AMG's mentalist engines - that 1000Nm is ~737lb/ft (foot-pounds, pounds per foot, whichever is correct). While having a nice round number like that as a landmark gives me the rough conversion rate to work it out for myself, when it's in lb/ft - as it is in all the magazines here, I might add - I can just know that a Fisker Karma has 960lb/ft and that that's a tremendous amount of rotational force. My dad also told me at a young age that you want the torque figure to be close to the power figure, but with a different unit for torque that mental balancing scale I've developed goes all out of whack, so I always have to do the conversion with an app on my phone, which is a pain in the arse.

It irks me is all. I get that it's an SI unit, but the assumed knowledge of Nm is a bit silly. The one upside is that, as they're all doing it, it is at least easy for one to compare between cars to see which has more of the stuff (so non-car people probably won't notice). Oh, and at least it's not as alien as the "Kgf·m" that Gran Turismo uses...

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