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Blog / Buying Guides / Car Buyer's Guide - A Closer Look At Technical Data

Written by : sshields

Published on:: 16/11/2015

Car Buyer's Guide - A Closer Look At Technical Data

The listings you’ll find here on The Car People website offers lots of details about each car so you can make an informed decision about which one is right for you.

Whilst some of the technical data info is either pretty self-explanatory (Vehicle Dimensions) or cover topics most will already be familiar with (Transmission), we know that many customers are a little stumped by some of the motor industry terms you’ll find under the ‘technical data’ tab…

With this in mind, we’ve put together a quick guide to help you dissect the more confusing facts and figures you’ll encounter while you’re browsing to buy a car.

General Section

Standard Euro Emissions

European emission standards were first introduced in 1992 with the aim of gradually reducing the degree of harmful emissions from motor vehicles. Each year, they define a new acceptable level for emissions, and all cars produced that year must conform to the standards.

The current level is Euro 5, which all cars have to adhere to. Euro 6, the next level, will come into force in Jan 2015.

Insurance Group

Every car is given an insurance group rating number between 1 – 50. The lower the number, the lower the insurance.

Engine and Drive Train


CC stands for cubic centimetres and relates to the volume of all the cylinders in the engine added together. For example, a 1596cc engine is referred to as a 1.6 litre engine.

Cylinder Layout

Cars cylinders are usually laid out in 3 different arrangements; in-line (in a line), V (V-shaped) or horizontally opposed (cylinders are horizontal). The most common layout for everyday cars is in-line

Engine Layout

There are different categorisations of engine depending on how they’re configured. Engines can be mounted in the front, middle of rear of the car. Additionally an engine can be mounted along the vehicle (longitudinal) or across the car (transverse).

A common engine layout is ‘front transverse’, which means the engine is mounted in the front & across the car.

Fuel Delivery

Fuel injectors deliver the fuel for the fuel and air mixture used for engine combustion. There are three main types of fuel injectors: single-point injection, multi-point injection and direct injection. Direct injection tends to be more common, as it allows better control of the fuel mixture. Additionally the latest technology is Common rail, which is a new type of direct fuel injection for diesels.  

Fuel Consumption

EC Combined, EC Extra Urban and EC Urban

These figures are taken from the industry standard European economy test where the fuel economy (in the UK usually measure as miles per gallon) is tested under different conditions.

However, whilst being performed under strict controls, the tests are performed in a laboratory and not on the road meaning that mpg figures tend to be higher than ‘real world’ driving.

The EC urban test aims to replicate the conditions you’ll encounter when driving in the city; the EC extra urban test replicates countryside driving conditions. And the combined figure is (surprise surprise) a combination of both that gives you an overall picture of the car’s performance in terms of fuel consumption. However currently there can be large variances between these test environments and real life, so please just use them as a guide.

Performance Section

Engine power – PS & BHP

The abbreviation PS comes from the German term ‘Pferdestärke’, meaning horsepower, whilst BHP is short for ‘brake horse power’. They measure the same thing (engine power output), but PS is becoming the more commonly used measure.

This maximum power level will be delivered at a certain amount of engine revolutions (RPM). RPM stands for ‘revolutions-per-minute’, meaning how many times the crankshaft has to rotate for maximum power. So you will see an output in either PS, BHP or both & the engine revolutions that this is delivered at.

Engine torque – LBS.FT & NM

LBS.FT = ‘Pounds-per-foot’, NM = ‘newton metre’; these are the different ways of measuring torque. One is imperial & the other metric. Torque is basically the amount of turning energy the engine can deliver.

Torque determines how quickly your engine can change the speed of your car, so it affects acceleration rather than top speed.

Maximum torque will be delivered at a certain engine speed. This will be listed with the torque figure.

Weight and Capacities (measurements) Section

Gross Vehicle Weight – measured in KG. The total weight of the vehicle.

Max. Towing Weight – Braked/Unbraked – measured in KG. This is the maximum weight the manufacturer recommends you tow with this vehicle. Braked/Unbraked relates to whether a trailer being towed has its own braking system. If it does, it is ‘Braked’ and if it does not, it is ‘Unbraked’.

Luggage Capacity – measured in Litres. This is the capacity of the luggage area. Normally there are two measurements; one with the rear seats up & one with them down.

Turning Circle - Kerb to Kerb – measured in metres. This is the space the vehicle needs between curbs to turn around & face the opposite way.

If you have any more questions about technical data or about anything else to do with buying a car from us, just give us a shout.

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