Best cars with high torque

Cars with lots of torque - also known as pulling power - offer numerous benefits, from easy acceleration to the ability to lug heavy loads

Matt Rigby
Oct 18, 2021

Whether you’re looking to regularly tow heavy loads or simply enjoy an effortless surge of acceleration when you’re driving, going for a car with plenty of torque is the answer.

If you remember your GCSE physics, you might recall that torque is also known as rotational force or ‘turning’ effect’. In a car engine - whether that’s an internal combustion engine, like a petrol or diesel, or an electric motor - it’s effectively how much effort a car can produce from its engine to turn the car’s crankshaft, and therefore its wheels.

The more effort an engine can produce, the more easily it can turn the wheels. That’s why torque is often referred to as ‘pulling power’ or ‘twist’. It’s also why those who want to haul a caravan, horse box or loaded trailer want a lot of it - having lots of torque enables vehicles to haul heavier loads more easily, without putting strain on the engine.

The amount of torque an engine produces varies depending on the engine speed. Some types of engine typically produce more torque at low engine speeds than others - larger engines and diesels, for instance - while electric motors produce maximum torque essentially from a standstill. This is why even low-powered electric cars often feel very responsive and ‘urgent’ on the road.

Conversely, petrol engines that spin very fast or ones with narrow torque bands - where the car offers maximum torque over a narrow engine speed range - can feel breathless and strained, even if they're relatively quick against a stopwatch when the engine is worked very hard.

If you can stretch to a supercar or a high-powered electric car then torque outputs can be more like telephone numbers, with these models offering effortless and rapid acceleration, but a decent, high-torque driving experience can still be had for a lot less than you might expect. Read on for our pick of the best used cars with high torque outputs - at affordable prices.

High torque cars

1. Ford Fiesta ST

Ford Fiesta ST front three quarters view

Used deals from £9,990
Monthly finance from £206*

If you enjoy driving but your budget is limited, then a small hot hatchback can be a great choice. The trouble is that many small hot hatches lack the thump of an engine with lots of torque - the VW Up GTI, for instance has to make do with just 200Nm, for example.

The Up GTI is a small and light car, so doesn't need too much pulling power, but with its tiny and relatively low-power engine, you still need to work the engine relatively hard to pick up speed quickly.

There's no such trouble with the Ford Fiesta ST. Whether you opt for the older 1.6-litre version, or the newer 1.5-litre model (pictured), they both serve up a thumping 290Nm of torque. That’s enough to make the little Fiesta feel seriously punchy, whether you're bumbling around in a high gear or whizzing around, changing gear regularly.

2013-2018 FORD FIESTA ST BUYERS' GUIDE
2018-PRESENT FORD FIESTA ST BUYERS' GUIDE

2. VW Amarok

Volkswagen Amarok front three quarters view

Used deals from £17,000
Monthly finance from £421*

If towing is your main priority, then a burly pick-up truck should be on your shopping list. And when it comes to pick-ups there are few more appealing than the VW Amarok, which combines a high-quality VW interior with commercial vehicle toughness.

Find one with the top-spec 258hp 3.0-litre diesel engine and you’ll be equipped with a muscular 580Nm of torque - which is more than pretty much any other mainstream pick-up can muster. The Amarok’s been around since 2011, too, so there are plenty of used versions to choose from to suit a range of budgets.

VOLKSWAGEN AMAROK BUYERS' GUIDE

3. VW Golf R

Volkswagen Golf R front three quarters view

Used deals from £16,999
Monthly finance from £344*

With 420Nm of torque, the Golf R isn’t the torquiest of high-performance hatches - the Ford Focus RS below features more torque, for example - but it is still a rapid and muscular Golf that is both quick when you work the engine hard and offers strong acceleration when you use higher gears and make the most of the low-engine-speed muscle.

This combination of performance and relatively low-key looks means that the Golf is a classy, sensible and tastefully under-the-radar way to go very fast indeed - complete with four-wheel-drive for improved grip when accelerating. Perfect if you're not too keen on the more bold looks of models such as the Ford Focus RS below.

VOLKSWAGEN GOLF BUYERS' GUIDE

4. Ford Focus RS

Ford Focus RS front three quarters view

Used deals from £28,595
Monthly finance from £447*

The Ford Focus RS is not a particularly subtle car from a design perspective - especially in what Ford calls Nitrous Blue, as shown above. Fortunately, with 470Nm of torque, there’s some pretty unsubtle performance on hand, too.

Keeping all that muscle in check is a four-wheel-drive system - which minimises wheelspin by halving the amount of power going to each wheel - upgraded suspension and brakes, plus a six-speed manual gearbox.

FORD FOCUS RS BUYERS' GUIDE

5. Kia Sorento

Kia Sorento front three quarters view

Used deals from £13,965
Monthly finance from £310*

Being able to seat seven people and haul a load of luggage inevitably means you need a larger car, which is likely to weigh more than smaller alternatives. And to ensure a large car can easily cope with a full load of passengers and luggage, it needs a fair bit of torque. Despite recently falling out of favour, diesel engines are still great when it comes to offering plenty of punch, along with strong fuel economy.

So if you need to haul a lot of people and all their kit around, the 2.2-litre 'CRDi' diesel version of the Sorento produces 440Nm of torque and could be just the ticket, with seven seats and plenty of standard equipment for the money.

KIA SORENTO BUYERS' GUIDE

6. BMW 5 Series Touring

BMW 5 Series Touring side view

Used deals from £18,950
Monthly finance from £418*

Few cars are as multi-talented as the BMW 5 Series Touring. It can be a relaxing luxury express, a capable family holdall and even a fun driver’s car, should the mood take you. And in the case of the 535d high-performance diesel, which offers a potent 630Nm of torque, all these traits are improved upon.

With the 535d you can waft on a wave of effortless acceleration, enjoy the extra performance the engine provides if you work it harder, or simply cruise along and find that your family and all your gear are hauled along without the slightest fuss.

BMW 5 SERIES TOURING BUYERS' GUIDE

7. Kia e-Niro

Kia e-Niro front three quarters view

Used deals from £32,245
Monthly finance from £458*

The nature of the way electric motors work means that their full torque figure is available immediately. This means that they tend to feel very responsive away from a standstill. It also means that some high-end electric cars produce some very high torque figures indeed.

Thankfully, far more affordable everyday electric cars still offer impressive torque figures, and among the best attainable models is the Kia e-Niro. This offers a substantial 395Nm of torque. By way of comparison, the regular hybrid version of the Niro delivers 265Nm of torque.

8. Audi A7

Used deals from £23,100
Monthly finance from £409*

The Audi A7 is quite a curious car. It has the swoopy, streamlined roofline of a coupe, a practical hatchback bootlid and is the size of a large luxury car. What this means is that it’s a good-looking, spacious, practical and luxurious car.

Fitted with the 276hp 3.0 'TDI' diesel engine, it’s rather muscular, too, with 580Nm on hand to help push you down the road. This is a huge amount, even for a large, heavy car and so the engine is able to punt the A7 along with the minimum of fuss.

AUDI A7 BUYERS' GUIDE

*Representative PCP finance - Ford Fiesta:

48 monthly payments of £192
Deposit: £0
Mileage limit: 8,000 per year
Optional final payment to buy car: £2,923
Total amount payable to buy car: £11,926
Total cost of credit: £2,426
Amount borrowed: £9,500
APR: 9.9%

BuyaCar is a credit broker, not a lender. Our rates start from 6.9% APR. The rate you are offered will depend on your individual circumstances.

 

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