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I don’t understand the jargon! What does PS mean?

We’re not talking “P.S, I love you” here!
Are you confused as to the myriad of letters that now appear after the model description of the average new car?
Does the description "Volkswagen Golf 1.0 TSI 115PS SE 5dr" leave your head in a whirl?
Help is at hand! Let us de-mystify some of the jargon that appears in vehicle descriptions.

OK, firstly let’s break the following description down:

“Ibiza Hatch 1.0 TSI 95PS SE 5dr”

Ibiza Hatch – this model is an Ibiza hatchback (as opposed to an estate or sports tourer)

1.0 – it has a 1.0 litre engine

TSI – denotes a petrol engine (as opposed to a TDI diesel engine for example)

95PS – PS stands for PferdStarke (literally, 'horse strength' in German). This is basically metric horsepower as opposed to the imperial or mechanical measure of horsepower denoted by HP or BHP.

SE – This particular make and model defines its trim levels by S, SE and FR.So SE is a mid-range trim level. That means it will have certain features as standard, over and above the base or entry level model.

5dr – it has 5 doors (that is, 4 for the driver and passengers and one on the back as a hatchback/boot)

So, now we are a bit clearer on the meanings of the description of this vehicle, what does it actually mean for the performance of this car?

Let’s explain further.

HP or horsepower describes the total amount of power an engine can produce. So the higher the HP, the more power the car has and the faster the top speed. BHP or brake horsepower is usually used as a more realistic measurement as it considers the power left over after the gearbox, alternator and water pump are working as well as any loss of power due to friction.

PS or PferdStarke is the metric measure of horsepower. It is the equivalent of 98.6% of one HP. The official measure in the European Union is kW – kilowatts - but is rarely used in everyday descriptions.

Let’s talk about torque…

Torque is another measurement sometimes quoted to gauge the potential power of a vehicle. It is measured in Nm or Newton Metres and measures the amount of force required to twist an object such as a crankshaft. The more torque, the greater the pulling power of the engine and the more acceleration possible. A higher torque number allows a speedier acceleration from standstill, more power when overtaking and the ability to carry or tow heavier loads.

Previously, engine size was a key measure for the power of any given vehicle. However, with modern engine technology, you may have a lower engine size, such as 1.2 litre, but couple it with 115PS instead of 60PS horsepower and you will have a more powerful car. For example, eco friendly engines often have direct fuel injection methods and a turbocharger added to them. So a 1.0 litre eco engine could produce the same power as a regular 1.6 litre engine, whilst retaining fuel efficiency.

We hope this has helped explain a little more about the power of engines, and you now know your PS from your BHP!


The JCB Group has a large selection of makes and models available in its showrooms across Kent, Sussex and the Medway Towns. It’s one of the largest dealership groups in the South East of England with reputable marques in a wide range of engine and powertrain sizes.