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The Daihatsu Three Cylinder Engine Guide

Daihatsu's high performance C and E-series three-pots

By Michael Knowling

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At a glance...

  • Guide to Daihatsu C and E-series three-cylinder performance engines
  • Mechanical specs
  • Power and torque figures
  • Driveline configurations
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Although Daihatsu vehicles are no longer sold new in Australia, the company has released some truly great three-cylinder high performance engines. These little sloggers are excellent for conversions into second-hand Daihatsu vehicles (which can be picked up dirt cheap), compact kit cars and an assortment of off-the-well contraptions. So let’s look at the popular C and E-series Daihatsu three-cylinder performance engines – 550 to 993cc of muscle!

Daihatsu C and E-series Turbo Engines

The first Daihatsu three-cylinder engine that brought some performance to the Australian market is the CB60 as fitted to the 1984 Charade Turbo (chassis code G11R).

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The CB60 appeared at the same time as the Mitsubishi Cordia and Nissan Pulsar/EXA turbo and is from the non-intercooled school of design. This means boost pressure from the little IHI RHB52 turbo is kept relatively low (about 0.5 Bar) and the compression ratio is reduced to 8:1. The CB60 is one of the few blow-through turbo systems working in conjunction with an Aisan carburettor and distributor type ignition system. Bore and stroke dimensions are identical to the non-turbo G11 Charade engine at 76 and 73mm respectively – total displacement is 993cc. Both leaded and unleaded versions are rated at 50kW at 5500 rpm and 106Nm at 3200 rpm. Japanese versions are rated at 55kW at 5500 rpm and 118Nm at 3500 rpm. These engines come with a standard five-speed manual and are configured for front-wheel-drive. A slightly updated version – the CB61 - was also found in a limited number of G100-series Charade Turbos.

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Unfortunately, Australia missed out on the rally-built CB70 DOHC turbo engine fitted to the Japanese G100S Charade GTti/GT-XX. The CB70 engine shares a similar bottom-end to the CB60 (though with a 7.8:1 compression ratio) but the top-end boasts an all-new DOHC, four-valve-per-cylinder head with multi-point fuel injection. The DOHC turbo engine also benefits from an air-to-air intercooler and a larger RHB5 turbocharger providing around 0.7 Bar boost. Amazingly, this engine is more than 50 percent gruntier than its earlier cousin – there’s 77kW at 6500 rpm and 130Nm at 3500 rpm. Again, a five-speed front-wheel-drive gearbox comes attached.

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Interestingly, the CB-series design also formed the basis for a tiny CL-series turbo diesel engine. Using the same bore and stroke dimensions (for a displacement of 993cc), the CL engine runs a 21.5:1 static compression ratio and a conventional SOHC head equipped with an ‘old school’ type diesel injection system. With a turbocharger hung off the front, this engine produces up to 37kW at 5000 rpm and 90Nm at 3000 rpm. Five-speed manuals or four-speed autos were available. This engine has apparently achieved a record breaking 103 mpg (2.7 litres per 100km) in the Charade.

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In the early ‘80s in Japan, Daihatsu offered a gutless two-cylinder turbo engine but a small frame three-cylinder engine appeared for the 1986 model year. Initially, the new EB 547cc three was equipped with an IHI RHB51 turbocharger blowing through a carburettor. This engine is available in the high performance versions of the Japanese market L70-series Mira/Cuore/Leeza. It is also available in some Atrai small vans. With a SOHC head, a tiny top-mount air-to-air intercooler and 0.7 Bar boost, the EB turbo makes 38kW at 6500 rpm and 70Nm at 4000 rpm - not much, but enough to deliver reasonable performance in a 500+ kilogram shopping cart. Most examples are equipped with a five-speed manual delivering drive to the front wheels, but a 4WD version can also be found.

Later, an optional EFI version became available making 43kW at 6500 rpm and 73Nm at 4000 rpm and, from 1988, output was lifted to the new 47kW limit for Japanese Kei class vehicles.

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The 1990 released L200-series Mira/Leeza steps up to a 659cc EF-JL three-pot with the benefit of four-valves-per-cylinder (but only SOHC), EFI and a larger intercooler. The EF-JL uses a 68mm bore and 60.5mm stroke and the static compression ratio is set at 8:1. Output is capped at the regulation 47kW (at 7500 rpm) and there’s 92Nm at 4000 rpm. Most are fitted with a five-speed manual gearbox but an auto was also sold as well as a 4WD. This engine is most commonly found in the Japanese Mira TR-XX. Production continued through the mid ‘90s. We believe that a two-valve-per-cylinder carby version was also sold in the lightweight Atrai van – this lower tech engine makes 45kW/85Nm.

In the late 1990s, the existing EF-JL engine was developed into the EF-DET which gains a DOHC cam head and a slightly higher static compression ratio. Power output remains at the regulation 47kW (or so it’s claimed!) but torque swells to a maximum of 107Nm at 3200 rpm. This is the ultimate 660cc three-cylinder Daihatsu Kei engine as found in high performance versions of the Mira, Move, Naked (!), Max, Opti and Terios Kid. Manual and auto gearboxes can be found as well as AWD drivelines.

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Note that, from 1994, Daihatsu also released the 659cc JB-JL four-cylinder which is not to be confused for a three-pot. The engine uses a 61mm bore and 56.4mm stroke together with a DOHC, four-valve-per-cylinder head, turbo and intercooler. Output is 47kW/100Nm - as seen in this graph. This engine is found in the Mira TR-XX Avante R/R4 and Move. A derivative of this engine, the JB-DET, can also be found in the little 2002 Copen convertible. Quoted power remains the same (47kW) but torque increases to 110Nm.

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In Australia, we missed out Daihatsu’s high performance threes after the axing of the 1980s Charade Turbo. The closest thing we’ve had is the Sirion and Cuore’s EJ-VE 1-litre three which runs DOHC, four-valve-per-cylinder breathing, a 10:1 compression ratio and EFI. It appears that variable inlet cam timing appeared from late 2001. Unfortunately, there’s no turbocharger and you’ll have to put up with its ho-hum 41kW and 89Nm. Japanese versions (found in the Storia, Mira Gino and YRV) make an extra 6kW and 5Nm.

Sure, these tiny Daihatsu engines might not be the most powerful you’ll find but put one into a lightweight vehicle and you’ll soon forget about that! Oh, and be aware that the turbocharged Daihatsu engine can also be tuned to give a 50 - 100 percent power increase with relatively little fuss – true small block grunt!

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