What is the Difference Between Horsepower and Engine CC?Get Complete Details

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Difference Between Horsepower and Engine CC

Engine CC and Horsepower (HP) are two important concepts to engine performance, but they measure different things. However, the biggest difference between Horsepower and Engine CC is how they are defined. A horsepower is a unit that measures the power of an engine while Engine CC refers to the size of the engine, specifically the total volume of its cylinder. 

Horsepower essentially tells you how much work the engine can do in a specific amount of time. Higher horsepower means the engine can generate more power, which translates to faster acceleration and higher top speeds. Talk about a larger CC engine typically means more space for air-fuel mixture, which can potentially lead to more power. However, CC isn’t a direct indicator of horsepower.

What is Horsepower?

Horsepower (hp) is a unit of measurement for power, specifically the rate at which work is done. It’s most commonly used to describe the output of engines and motors. There are two main ways to understand horsepower.

Horsepower Calculation
Horsepower Calculation
  • Work Rate: Imagine lifting a 550-pound weight one foot off the ground. If it takes you one second to do that, it means the rate of work you’re doing is equivalent to one horsepower. 
  • Engine Output: In the context of engines, horsepower refers to the power an engine produces. This translates to how quickly a car can accelerate, maintain speed on hills, or tow heavy loads. Engines with higher horsepower can generally do these tasks more effectively.
1 Horsepower = 745.7 watts
1 Metric Horsepower = 735.499 Watt

The International System of Units (SI) uses watts as the standard unit for power.  

What is Engine CC?

Engine CC, which stands for Cubic Centimeters, refers to the total volume of all the cylinders in a piston engine. It’s a measurement of the engine’s size and essentially tells you how much air-fuel mixture can fit inside the cylinders at one time.

  • Cubic Centimeters (CC): This is the unit used to express the volume of the engine. On cubic centimetre is equal to the volume of a cube measuring one centimetre on each side.
  • Cylinders: These are the chambers within the engine where the combustion of air and fuel takes place. The piston moves up and down inside the cylinder, creating power.

There’s a general correlation between engine CC and power output. A larger CC engine typically has more space for air-fuel mixture, which can potentially lead to more powerful combustion and higher horsepower. This is because more air-fuel mixture allows for a bigger bang, generating more force that translates to power.

What is the Difference Between Horsepower and Engine CC?

Here is the table summarizing the difference between Horsepower and Engine CC.

ParticularHorsepowerEngine CC
DefinitionPower MeasurementEngine size measurement
CalculationHP = Torque x RPM​ / 5252Volume of cylinders x number of cylinders
PerformanceAcceleration, top speedLow-end power, towing capacity
EfficiencyFuel consumptionFuel consumption
ApplicationsPerformance vehicles, machineryTrucks, SUVs, larger vehicles
RegulationSubject to testing standardsRegulated for taxation, categorization

Also Read: What is the Difference Between Density and Weight?

Difference Between Horsepower and Engine CC Formulas

Here’s the breakdown of the formulas involved-

Horsepower (HP) 

Horsepower isn’t directly calculated from engine CC. It’s determined by the engine’s torque and engine speed which is known as RPM.

  • Torque: This represents the twisting force produced by the engine crankshaft. It’s measured in pound-feet (lb-ft) or Newton meters (Nm). Higher torque indicates the engine’s ability to generate more twisting force.
  • Engine Speed (RPM): This refers to how many revolutions the engine’s crankshaft completes per minute. Higher RPM signifies the engine’s ability to spin faster.
Formula for HP = (Torque x RPM) / 5252
  • HP: Horsepower (in horsepower)
  • Torque: Engine torque (in lb-ft or Nm) – convert units if necessary for consistency
  • RPM: Engine speed (in revolutions per minute)

Engine CC is a simple measurement of the engine’s displacement, which is the total volume swept by the pistons in the cylinders during one complete cycle (downward and upward stroke).

Formula for Engine CC = (Bore x Bore x Stroke x Pi) / 1000
  • Bore: Diameter of the engine cylinder (in millimetres)
  • Stroke: Distance the piston travels up and down within the cylinder (in millimetres)
  • Pi: Constant value of approximately 3.14159

NOTE: While there isn’t a direct formula to convert CC to HP, some online calculators estimate HP based on an average formula (HP = CC / 15).

Application of Difference Between Horsepower and Engine CC in Real-Life

Understanding the difference between horsepower (HP) and engine CC (cubic centimetres) can be very helpful when choosing a car or understanding its performance. Here are some real-life applications.

  • If fuel efficiency is a priority, you might choose a car with a smaller CC engine.
  • If you need a car for towing heavy loads or require fast acceleration, you might prioritize horsepower.
  • Generally, higher horsepower translates to better acceleration and a higher achievable top speed.
  • A car with a good balance of horsepower and torque (turning force) will handle these situations more effectively.
  • When comparing similar car models, don’t solely focus on the CC. Check the horsepower ratings as well. You might find a car with a smaller, more efficient engine that delivers comparable power to a larger CC option.
  • Modern engine technologies like turbochargers and hybrid systems can significantly impact performance.

Also Read: Difference Between Power and Exponent: Complete Details


How many cc is equal to 1 hp?

A 32.5 CC engine is equal to 1 horsepower for most of them.

Are cc and horsepower the same?

In engines, horsepower measures power output and cubic centimeters measure engine capacity and force.

What is BHP in a car?

BHP, which stands for “brake horsepower,” is a more accurate amount because it takes into account the power that is still available after the motor, generator, and water pump have done their jobs, as well as any power loss that occurs because of contact.

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