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Toyota ZZ series Engine Guide

The details of Toyota's ZZ series four-cylinders...

By Michael Knowling

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At a glance...

  • Guide to Toyota ZZ series engines
  • Mechanical specs
  • Power and torque figures
  • Driveline configurations
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One of the most sophisticated and powerful engines to fly beneath the radar is the Toyota ZZ-series. Displacing just 1.8 litres, the ZZ can kick out up to 141kW and even Corolla-spec versions offer a healthy 100kW. Let’s check out how the range has evolved in the Japanese and local markets...

ZZ series Engines

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The first ZZ series engine appeared in Japan during 1998 in the nose of the Toyota Vista sedan/Vista Ardeo wagon. The economy-based 1ZZ-FE uses bore/stroke dimensions of 79 x 91.5mm respectively to achieve a displacement of 1794cc. A 10:1 compression ratio and a DOHC, four-valve-per-cylinder head with variable inlet valve timing (VVT-i) are used. Multi-point EFI is standard. On normal unleaded fuel, this early-spec engine puts out 96kW at 6000 rpm and 171Nm at 4000 rpm. The 1ZZ is designed for transverse mounting and a four-speed auto comes attached – as far as we’re aware, there was never a manual version offered in the Vista. Drive is to the front wheels.

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A lightly tuned version of the 1ZZ appeared in the ’99 released MR-S (aka MR2) and Celica SS-1. With improved exhaust flow and perhaps some other minor changes, the Japanese-spec MR-S/Celica engine generates 103kW at 6400 rpm and 171Nm at 4400 rpm – notice the higher rpm ‘sweet spot’ compared to the early 1ZZ. The MR-S engine is mid-mounted and comes with only a five-speed manual. The Celica SS-1 engine is designed for transverse front mounting and is available with five-speed manual or four-speed auto transmissions. From 2000 an extra 4kW was found in Celica SS-I versions.

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The ultimate incarnation of the ZZ motor – the 2ZZ-GE - first appeared in the ’99 Celica SS-II. Using a more balanced bore/stroke relationship (82 and 85mm respectively), the newly created 1795cc 2ZZ-GE engine uses much the same architecture found in the 1ZZ but brings an improved cylinder head with a more sophisticated variable valve timing and lift system (VVTL-i). The secondary cam stage kicks in at 6000 rpm. Combined with flat top pistons delivering an 11.5:1 compression ratio (which requires the use of premium unleaded fuel), the Celica SS-II’s 2ZZ cranks out 140kW at 7600 rpm and 180Nm at 6800 rpm. It’s the arch rival of the Honda 1.8-litre VTEC engine found in the contemporary Integra Type R. The higher output 2ZZ engine is also available with a close-ratio six-speed manual transaxle or a four-speed self-shifting job.

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In 2000, the bread-and-butter 1ZZ was spread into the Corolla sedan which was available as an auto-only FWD or AWD. Interestingly, the FWD version is rated at 100kW and 171Nm (at 6000 and 4200 rpm respectively) while the AWD is detuned to 92kW and 161Nm. The wagon version, badged as the Corolla Fielder, uses the 100kW/171Nm spec engine when tied to a FWD manual or auto transaxle while the detuned 92kW/161Nm engine is used in the auto-only AWD.

In the same year, the Japanese market Opa van received the 1ZZ-FE and, again, auto FWD versions make 100kW/171Nm while auto 4WD versions make 92kW/161Nm. The same outputs were also adopted by the Vista and Vista Ardeo. In Japan, the updated look Toyota RAV4 soft-roader employs the same low output 92kW engine and it appears there’s only one driveline attached - a FWD auto.

Also in 2000, the high performance 2ZZ-GE made its way into the go-fast AeroTourer version of the Corolla Fielder wagon. Engine specs are identical to those found in the Celica SS-II meaning you get the full 140kW/180Nm monty – not bad for a ‘rolla! There’s the choice of a six-speed manual ‘box or a four-speed automatic.

The hatch version of the Corolla, known as the Corolla Runx, appeared in 2001 also boasting the 2ZZ 140kW/180Nm grunter. A similar looking wagon, the Allex RS180, was also released with the same driveline. The eye-catching Japanese market WiLL VS was also released with the full range of ZZ engines – the 92kW/161Nm auto-only AWD engine, the 100kW/171Nm auto-only FWD engine and the mighty 140kW/180Nm 2ZZ engine also tied to an auto trans. No manual.

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In the same year, the 100kW/171Nm spec 1ZZ also appeared in the auto-only FWD Corolla Spacio van while the auto-only AWD version gets the detuned 92kW/161Nm engine. Japanese market Allion and Premio sedan models also debuted with a 1ZZ making 97kW/170Nm in FWD auto versions or 92kW/161Nm in auto AWD versions. The six-speed manual 2ZZ version appeared in ’02.

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In 2002, the Japanese market Toyota Caldina wagon took onboard the 1ZZ-FE making 97kW/170Nm. It appears the 1ZZ version was sold with a FWD auto only. The Japanese Voltz soft-roader received the same 97kW/170Nm in the auto-only FWD, 92kW/161Nm auto-only AWD or the 140kW/180Nm 2ZZ in six-speed manual or four-speed auto FWD guise.

In Australia, the 1ZZ-FE was introduced in the ZZT231R (current shape) Celica SX and ZR which appeared in ’99. Interestingly, local Celicas come standard with the high output 2ZZ-GE which is listed at 140kW/180Nm (identical to the Japanese version). The lower output 1ZZ-FE didn’t appear until the late ’00 release of the ZZW30R MR2. The local MR2 is rated at 103kW/170Nm (just 1Nm less than the Japanese version) and comes standard with a five-speed manual which is clutchless. The next application for the 1ZZ-FE was in the late ’01 release ZZE112 Corolla range. All locally delivered examples (sedan, hatch and wagon) come in front-wheel-drive with the choice of manual or auto. Power is 100kW and there’s 171Nm of torque (again, identical to the Japanese equivalent). A Sportivo version of the Corolla hatch was then released with the 2ZZ-GE which is, curiously, listed at 141kW – 1kW more than any other version. These were sold with a six-speed manual only. These are quite a rare beast.

So what to make of all this info? Well, clearly, the 2ZZ-GE is the hot pick – we’ve seen ‘em converted into the Japanese MR-S and the result is spectacular. Unfortunately, the 2ZZ was never offered with AWD but that’s not a total loss because its very linear rate of torque delivery helps maintain traction. Oh, and be aware that the auto versions are much slower than the manuals. So stop snoozin’ and get ZZin’!

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