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Old 16th October 2011, 18:28   #1
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Default What happened to low end torque of today's small cars?

In the late 90's/early 2k's, when car makers were transitioning from Carb type to MPFI engines, most of the small cars being launched had very good low end torque, which made for a very easy bumper to bumper driving. Prime examples being:

1. Hyundai Santro
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I haven't driven a car after Santro having such good low end torque. Lift the clutch in first gear and it just flies. Perfect for our traffic conditions of bumper to bumer slow moving traffic. First to third gear efforless for city driving.

2. Old WagonR
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The F10 D engine of the old wagonR has such good low end response, the current K10 feels like a truck in comparison. Of course i am not talking about mid-range here, where the K10 is far far better. But how many times would you be gunning for 3k rpm in city traffic?

3. Maruti 800 MPFI
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Another pocket rocket, this car, specially the 5 speed version was like driving a point and shoot machine in the maddening traffic. Smallest of gaps, tap the throttle and it just zooms ahead without making any sweat.

4. Daewoo Matiz
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Another car with good low end torque, easy and simple to drive.


And so on..


And what do the current lot of cars have to offer? Though they have much better mid-range and in-gear acceleration than there predecessors, cars like Hyundai i10 Kappa2, K10 engined Marutis, Honda Brio etc. do not offer the kind of instant low end pickup as the older models.

Why don't we have more cars with engines characteristics like the Santro?

Last edited by GTO : 20th October 2011 at 18:05. Reason: Small spelling correction
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Old 16th October 2011, 19:13   #2
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Default Re: What happened to low end torque of today's small cars?

I hate that characteristics in today's cars too. I guess it is for improving fuel efficiency. So much cry about fuel efficiency has landed us in this mess.
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Old 16th October 2011, 20:29   #3
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Default Re: What happened to low end torque of today's small cars?

THis is a question I have pondered very much with no answer found. Most of today's small cars are a pain to drive in bumper to bumper traffic. Another problem area is an incline, where the life has to be taken out of the miserable engine (with a burning clut to get going!
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Old 16th October 2011, 20:41   #4
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Default Re: What happened to low end torque of today's small cars?

Very True. Having driven i10 in peak traffic, there is always a need a downshift to 1st when moving off from speed breakers, slow moving traffic etc.
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Old 16th October 2011, 22:31   #5
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Default Re: What happened to low end torque of today's small cars?

Quote:
Originally Posted by knaveen View Post
Very True. Having driven i10 in peak traffic, there is always a need a downshift to 1st when moving off from speed breakers, slow moving traffic etc.
Is it i10 1.2 Kappa? I think the 1.1 engine has good low end torque, just like Santro.
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Old 16th October 2011, 23:05   #6
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Default Re: What happened to low end torque of today's small cars?

Two reasons.
  • Good FE
  • Better Highway characteristics.
  • Not sure, but in most of the cars with good refinement, low end torque is less.
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Old 16th October 2011, 23:23   #7
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Default Re: What happened to low end torque of today's small cars?

I think Torque is Different than short gearing. My Hyundai Getz 1.1 fly's off the start and feels zippy in all gears in all revs. But if you put it in higher gear in lower RPM's. The Zipping becomes Dipping.

Where as My Optra 1.6 Petrol, feels sluggish of the start, but it has so much mid range torque that, when i put my foot in accelerator in 5th gear @ 50km/hr it pulls pulls and pulls till what ever speed. There is some kind of power felt on the face, My Optra does it in 3rd gear where i have to shift to 1st for my Getz.

But i enjoy both the cars and different characteristics of them. Just like people all cars have different nature. Lower end , midrange and higher end i dont think all exists together well in any car of today.
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Old 16th October 2011, 23:30   #8
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Default Re: What happened to low end torque of today's small cars?

Very good observation DCEite, almost all of the newer small Petrols come with weaker low end compared to their earlier generation counterparts. Most probably this is done to aid FE, considering most cars spent majority of time in low end.

Surpisingly most recent Diesels come with wider powerbands(compared to previous gen common rail engines) with lesser lag below 2000rpm. Diesel cars like Figo and Micra have super low end, even Etios twins are told to be good in low end.
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Old 16th October 2011, 23:34   #9
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Default Re: What happened to low end torque of today's small cars?

Fine point. Even the early gen swifts, with the 1300cc Esteem engine had very poor loe end response. The Alto 800 is better than the swift here. Does this has anything to do with the tuning for increased fuel efficiency.
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Old 16th October 2011, 23:45   #10
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Default Re: What happened to low end torque of today's small cars?

Hi DCEite,

I used to drive an M800 MPFi not too long back. I agree with the point that the low end torque was more prominent in that car.
Most of the smaller cars these days have lower power abilities at lower revs.

But I drive a Chevy Beat these days, along with a Hyundai Elantra Petrol.
The beat feels pretty eager to move as I release the clutch. Hence, I can say it's an exception. Especially when I begin to compare it to the Elantra, the E's an elephant! Just doesn't budge.

All in all though, with the exception of the C-Beat, your observation is good (AFAIK).

Cheers and drive safe.
Sam
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Old 17th October 2011, 00:05   #11
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Default Re: What happened to low end torque of today's small cars?

Pretty accurate observation. What I have noticed, though, is that this applies more to petrol hatches prominently. Having driven a Ritz diesel, I can confidently say that it performs admirably well in low end.
Having said that, there is no doubt that at the expense of comparatively poorer low end torque, the mid range and high range are much more refined than those of previous years.

I think this might be affected by the following factors:
1. We make such a big fuss about FE, that the manufacturers have found this to be an efficient way to cater to our needs.
2. People today go on longer drives and highway travels much more compared to those say 7-10 years back.
3. The drive characteristics are not something especially to be complained about. Maybe on a similar note, drivers 10 years back would probably have been complaining about poor mid range and high end performance, although I am not sure there would have been as detailed benchmarks about that as we have today.
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Old 17th October 2011, 04:43   #12
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Default

Xeta has excellent low-end torque. Felt like a diesel, without the lag/sluggishness of a diesel.
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Old 17th October 2011, 08:52   #13
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Default Re: What happened to low end torque of today's small cars?

Excellent thread DCEite. This was exactly what I was thinking from a while now.

I have a Getz Prime 1.3 GLS and Im sure the ones who have driven this hatch will agree with me that in B2B traffic, this almost feels Diesel like. I just have to slot it into the 2nd Gear and she will cruise all day long at 20kmph. I don't know if its the weight or the engine, but my friend's 1.4 Punto required a constant downshift to first if the speeds dropped as low as 20kmph.
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Old 17th October 2011, 09:01   #14
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Default Re: What happened to low end torque of today's small cars?

A very nice thread DCEite !!

Yup for small hatches the most important factor I assume is the Low End Torque.

I have a Figo P and an 800, I drove the 800 last night and believe me I was more comfortable driving the 800 as compared to my daily drive on the Figo.

Amongst the small hatches, I feel Santro is right up there in terms of drivability and In Gear accelerations.
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Old 17th October 2011, 09:38   #15
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Default Re: What happened to low end torque of today's small cars?

Having driven Palio MJD for 3 years, I have been driving an i10 Asta borrowed from a friend.
In bumper to bumper traffic when I have to move some 2-3 feet, I had the habit of engaging the clutch slightly till the car moved and pressing it fully so that the momentum itself pushes the car forward.
This technique works in i10 too, but I notice that the RPM rises till 2000 after the clutch is pressed, and then gradually comes down to idle.
My feeling is that the ECU assumes that I am going to upshift, and to make sure that there is no loss of torque when 2nd gear is engaged, it pushes the RPM up. But in bumper to bumper traffic, the RPM is already back to idle by the time it is time to shift to 2nd.

I think this kinda tuning is with norma bumper-to-bumper traffic in mind, not a chaotic one like in Bangalore. Normally (say, in Europe), you'd get a chance to drive at least 10 feet once i engage 1st gear.

Perhaps the manufacturers can give an option to switch between city and highway drives (something like what TVS did on a bike a few years ago).
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