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Engine Epic - Daihatsu, Suzuki and Isuzu Engines

We look at the most desirable modern engines from Daihatsu, Suzuki and Isuzu...

By Michael Knowling

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Two of the smaller car companies based in Japan – Daihatsu and Suzuki – haven’t exactly been splurging money with new designs since our original 1999 Engine Epic. Nevertheless, there are some welcome additions to the range that are worth covering – we take you on a tour on everything from 550cc turbo threes to a 2.7-litre V6. We’ll also go over the performance engines made by Isuzu.

Here’s how to decipher the engine codes used by each of these manufacturers...


HD-EG - 1.6 litre 4-cylinder, SOHC, 16-valve EFI

HD-EP - 1.6 litre 4-cylinder, SOHC, 16-valve EFI

HD-E - 1.6 litre 4-cylinder, SOHC, 16-valve EFI

HE-EG - 1.5 litre 4-cylinder, SOHC, 16-valve EFI

HC-E - 1.3 litre 4-cylinder, SOHC, 16-valve EFI

HC-EJ - 1.3 litre 4-cylinder, SOHC, 16-valve EFI

K3-VET - 1.3 litre 4-cylinder, DOHC, 16-valve EFI turbo

K3-VE2 - 1.3 litre 4-cylinder, DOHC, 16-valve EFI

JB-DET - 660cc 4-cylinder, DOHC, 16-valve EFI turbo

CB60 – 1.0 litre, 3-cylinder, SOHC, 6 valve carburetted turbo

CB70 - 1.0 litre, 3-cylinder, DOHC, 12 valve EFI turbo

EJ-VE – 1.0 litre DOHC, 12 valve EFI

EF-JL – 660cc 3-cylinder, SOHC, 12-valve EFI turbo

EB – 550cc, 3-cylinder, SOHC, 6-valve carburetted turbo


K27A – 2.7 litre V6, DOHC, 24-valve EFI

K25A - 2.5 litre V6, DOHC, 24-valve EFI

H25A - 2.5 litre V6, DOHC, 24-valve EFI

J20A – 2.0 litre 4-cylinder, DOHC, 16-valve EFI

J18A – 1.8 litre 4-cylinder, DOHC, 16-valve EFI

G13B – 1.3 litre 4-cylinder, DOHC, 16-valve EFI        

G16A - 1.6 litre 4-cylinder, SOHC, 16-valve EFI         

M18A – 1.8 litre 4-cylinder, DOHC, 16-valve EFI

M16A – 1.6 litre 4-cylinder, DOHC, 16-valve EFI

M15A -1.5 litre 4-cylinder, DOHC, 16-valve EFI

M13A – 1.3 litre 4-cylinder, DOHC, 16-valve EFI

K10A – 1.0 litre 4-cylinder, DOHC, 16-valve turbo

K6A – 660cc 3-cylinder, DOHC, 12-valve EFI (turbo and atmo)

F5 – 550cc 3-cylinder, SOHC and DOHC versions, EFI turbo

F6 - 660cc 3-cylinder, SOHC and DOHC versions, EFI turbo


4XE1 – 1.6 litre 4-cylinder, DOHC, 16-valve EFI (turbo and atmo)

4ZC1 – 2.0 litre 4-cylinder, SOHC, 8-valve EFI turbo

G200 – 2.0 litre 4-cylinder, DOHC, 8-valve EFI

G180 – 1.8 litre 4-cylinder, DOHC, 8-valve EFI


Daihatsu Fours...

Daihatsu’s most common range of four-cylinder engines is the H-series.

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The most powerful in the H-series is the HD-EG 1.6-litre SOHC, 16-valve engine. This engine – as fitted to the mid/late ‘90s Japanese market DeTomaso Charade – generates an impressive 92kW peak at 6300 rpm. Maximum torque is 144Nm at 4000 rpm.

The next step down is the HD-EP 1.6-litre engine as fitted to the Daihatsu Pyzar. In Japanese form, this SOHC, 16-valve fuel injected motor (very similar to the DeTomaso Charade’s) makes up to 85kW at 6300 rpm and 140Nm at 3600 rpm. In Australian guise, the Pyzar’s 1.6-litre four makes just 67kW and 126Nm.

Note that the local Daihatsu Applause also uses a derivative of this engine – the HD-E – and is good for up to 77kW.

The first-generation Pyzar and the contemporary Charade were also available with a HE-EG 1.5-litre SOHC, 16-valve engine that was rated at 66kW and 119Nm. Again, the Japanese version is more powerful – the J-spec Pyzar HE-EG 1.5-litre cranks out up to 74kW and 128Nm.

The smallest member of the H-series line-up is the HC-E 1.3-litre engine, as fitted to the G100/G200-series Charade. With a SOHC, 16-valve head and EFI this engine makes 62kW. A slightly revised version – the HC-EJ – is fitted to the local Terios, which is rated at 61kW. 

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In Japan, the current Daihatsu Terios and YRV are available with a 1.3-litre turbocharged engine. The 1.3 DOHC, 16-valve intercooled turbo K3-VET engine uses a 8.5:1 static compression ratio and achieves up to 103kW at 6400 rpm and 177Nm at a surprisingly low 3200 rpm. We hope to see this engine in the local YRV soon.

A high-performance atmo version of the K3 1.3-litre – K3-VE2 – is also available with variable cam timing. In the top-line Japanese Storia, this engine spits out an impressive 81kW at 7000 rpm with 126Nm of torque. The same engine is used in the locally delivered Sirion GTvi, though it’s rated at a more modest 75kW.

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Also new is the miniscule 660cc four-cylinder turbo engine in the Daihatsu Copen convertible. The Copen’s JB-DET 660cc uses an 8.2:1 static compression ratio and an intercooled turbocharger to help generate 47kW at 6000 rpm and 110Nm at 3200 rpm (in Japanese spec).

Note that the same JB-DET engine in the Japanese Move Custom (and others) makes a less thrilling 100Nm at 3200 rpm. Interestingly, the Japanese-market Daihatsu Move is also available with a turbocharged EF-DET 3-cylinder engine – which we’ll come to...

Daihatsu Threes...

Amongst all of the performance 3-cylinder engines available in Japan, Daihatsu’s are amongst the most popular – relatively simple design and great strength are the big attractions.

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The all-time 3-cylinder bruiser is the CB70 1.0-litre as fitted to the Japanese market Charade G100 GT-ti. The CB70 (a development of the earlier CB60) sports a DOHC, 12-valve head with multi-point injection and an air-to-air intercooled IHI turbocharger. These features give the one-litre motor 77kW at 6500 rpm. Peak torque is 130Nm at 3500 rpm.

The earlier CB60 1.0-litre turbo three – as fitted to the G11 and G100 Charade turbos – uses a SOHC, 6-valve alloy head with a blow-through carburettor. No intercooler is fitted. In Japanese-spec this motor made up to 59kW at 5500 rpm and 118Nm at 3500. Australian-delivered versions made 50kW at 5500 rpm and 106Nm at just 3200 rpm.

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Using the same 1.0-litre displacement is the current EJ-VE engine as fitted to the Japanese Storia (essentially a rebadged Sirion). Using a DOHC, 12-valve head this naturally aspirated engine makes 47kW at 6000 rpm and 94Nm at 3600 rpm. Note that the EJ-VE engine in the Australian Sirion, Cuore and new model Charade is rated at only 41kW and 88/89Nm.

The rest of the Daihatsu performance 3-cylinder range uses a 660cc swept capacity. Let’s take a look at a selection...

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The late ‘80s 660cc EF-JL engine uses a single camshaft, 12 valves, EFI and a tiny intercooled IHI RHB51 turbo to produce 47kW at 7500 rpm and 92Nm at 4000 rpm. This design has recently graduated into the EF-DET DOHC, 12-valve turbo with an 8.5:1 static compression ratio and producing 47kW at 6400 rpm and up to 107Nm of torque at 3200 rpm.

For interest's sake, back in 1985 Daihatsu introduced its 550cc EB turbo engine using a blow-through carby (like the 1.0-litre CB60). This very simple engine (available in Japan only) made around 38kW and 78Nm – not much but it was a showing of things to come!


Suzuki Sixes...

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The most powerful engine in the current Suzuki line-up can be found in the Grand Vitara/ Escudo V6 4WD. The Vitara’s K27A 2.7-litre V6 uses DOHC, 4-valve-per-cylinder heads, 9.5:1 compression and multipoint injection. In Australian form, this engine is rated at 135kW at 6000 rpm and 250Nm at 3300 rpm.

A smaller version of this engine – the 2.5-litre K25A – is also available in the Japanese market Escudo. This motor generates 118kW at 6500 rpm and 221Nm at 3500 rpm.

Before release of the K-series V6, the most desirable Suzuki V6 was the H25A – this engine continues in lower-spec versions of the Grand Vitara/Escudo. With similar design to the later K-series, this 2.5-litre engine currently makes 116kW at 6200 rpm and 213Nm at 3500 rpm. Note that the last Japanese versions of this engine made a tad more power and torque.

Suzuki Fours...

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Without question the most acclaimed Suzuki performance vehicle engine is the G13B, as fitted to the Swift (aka Cultas) GTi. First released in 1986 and continuing through ‘till 1999, the G13B powered Suzuki to numerous GT-P class wins and earned a solid performance reputation. Its DOHC, 16-valve, EFI layout remained fundamentally unchanged – and so did its 74kW and 108Nm output. In Japan, however, an 11.5:1 compression version was released making 86kW and 110Nm at 7500 and 6500 rpm respectively. This remains one of the most impressive 1.3-litre engines ever built.

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A larger 1.6-litre version of the G-series four-cylinder was also released in the later model Swift sedan and Vitara. Unlike the GTi engine, the G16A came only with a SOHC head and a simple single-point EFI system. Not surprisingly, peak output was just 74kW at 6000 rpm, but with fairly generous torque at low rpm. Australian delivered versions – as found in the top-line Swift of the early ‘90s – was rated at 4kW less.

For the ultimate Suzuki four, it is possible to attach the G13B DOHC head to the G16A block (as we've discussed at "Head Start").

But straight outa the box you can’t go past the technology of the M18A 1.8-litre DOHC, 16-valve four with variable inlet cam timing. Fitted to the top-line Japanese-spec Aerio (aka Liana), this 9.6:1 compression engine is rated at 92kW at 5500 rpm and 170Nm at 4200 rpm.

The next step down is the Japanese-market top-line Cruze and base-spec Aurio’s M15A 1.5-litre DOHC engine with variable valve timing and a 9.5:1 compression ratio. This engine makes 81kW at 6000 rpm and 143Nm of torque at 4000 rpm. The MA15 VVT engine is also fitted to the local Ignis Sport, which is rated at a slightly healthier 83kW at 6400 rpm and 143Nm at 4100 rpm.

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Using the same engine design is the larger M16A 1.6-litre and M13A 1.3-litre. The M16A DOHC four – as fitted to the Australian-spec Liana – generates a meagre 76kW but with a decent 144Nm of torque. The little M13A DOHC 1.3-litre – fitted to the Japanese-market Swift and base Cruze – makes 65kW and 118Nm. The M13A is also fitted to the local Suzuki Jimny and Ignis, where it makes 60/61kW and 110Nm.

More powerful than those 4-cylinders so-far is the J20A DOHC engine – it sweeps 2.0-litres (more than any other Suzi four). Fitted to the current Australian-spec Vitara 3-door, this 9.3:1 compression engine is listed at 94kW and 174Nm (at 5900 and 4300 rpm respectively). A smaller 1.8-litre J18A engine was also available in the go-fast Beleno – this makes a high 99kW/157Nm in Japanese form and 89kW/152Nm in Australian form. 

The only turbocharged four in the line-up is the K10A engines, as found in the pre-2000 Japanese market Wagon R+ (chassis code MA61S). This 1.0-litre DOHC, 16-valve, VVT turbo intercooled engine uses an 8.4:1 static compression ratio and makes 74kW at 6500 rpm and 122Nm at 3000 rpm.

Suzuki Threes...

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The latest and greatest Suzuki three-cylinder is the K6A turbo found in the current J-spec Wagon R and Keis. This 660cc DOHC, 12-valve three features an air-to-air intercooler and turbocharger helping deliver up to 47kW at 6500 rpm and 106Nm at 3500 rpm.

A gun atmo version of this engine is also available – the 10.5:1 K6A with VVT makes a decent 40kW and 63Nm.

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That same 47kW output is also reached by the Japanese F6A and F6B 660cc DOHC turbo engines. Earlier versions of the F6A – with just a SOHC head – were rated at 47 and 43kW depending on age and spec. These SOHC F6A engines were built during the late ‘80s before the introduction of the DOHC replacement.

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A tiny 550cc DOHC turbo engine - the F5A – was also available in the 1987 series Japanese-market Alto. This was the first Kei-class engine to attain the regulation 47kW max output – along with 72Nm.


Isuzu Fours...

Isuzu hasn’t released any more performance-based motors since our original Engine Epic. Nevertheless, here’s what remains available...

The most powerful Isuzu performance four is the 4XE1 Turbo, which displaces 1.6-litres and uses DOHCs, 16 valves, EFI and an intercooled turbo. This engine pumps out a handy 134kW at 6600 rpm, complemented by 208Nm of torque at 4800 rpm. Find this engine in the Japanese-market Isuzu JT-series Gemini 4WD.

Note that a naturally aspirated version was also available producing 104kW and up to 142Nm of torque.

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Next is the 4ZC1 that was seen in Australian-delivered Holden Piazza turbos. Displacing 2.0 litres, it uses a SOHC, 8-valve head, air-to-air intercooled turbo and EFI to push out 110kW at 5400 rpm and 225Nm at 3400.

The engine that started it all off for Isuzu was the Lotus-inspired G180 DOHC, which put out up to 97kW at 6400 rpm from its injected 8 valve DOHC design. But the ‘big daddy’ of the G-engines was the G200 DOHC, with the same basic design but 101kW at 6200 and 167Nm at 5000. These are widely regarded as super-strong engines that are capable of taking quite a hiding.

Daihatsu, Suzuki and Isuzu Engines at a Glance...


K3-VET 1.3 litre turbo


HD-EG 1.6-litre


HD-EP 1.6 litre


K3-VE2 1.3 litre (Japanese version)


HD-E 1.6 litre


HE-EG 1.5 litre (Japanese version)


HC-E 1.3 litre


JB-DET 660cc turbo




CB70 1.0 litre turbo


CB60 1.0 litre turbo


EJ-VE 1.0 litre


EF-JL 660cc turbo


EF-DET 660cc turbo


EB 550cc turbo




K27A 2.7 litre


K25A 2.5 litre


H25A 2.5 litre



J18A 1.8 litre


J20A 2.0 litre


M18A 1.8 litre


G13B 1.3 litre


M15A 1.5 litre


M16A 1.6 litre


K10A 1.3 litre turbo


G16A 1.6 litre


M13A 1.3 litre



K6A 660cc turbo


F5A/F5B/F6A/F6B 660cc turbo


K6A 660cc 10.5:1






4XE1 1.6 litre turbo


4ZC1 2.0 litre turbo


4XE1 1.6-litre


G200 2.0 litre


G180 1.8 litre


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