Nissan VQ35HR Tuning

"All you need to know about tuning the Nissan VQ35HR engine!"

In this article we review VQ35HR tuning and highlight the best modifications. Nissan VQ35HR have loads of potential and with the optimum mods like remaps, turbo kits and camshafts you will dramatically maximise your driving opportunities.

The VQ production started in 1994 and has appeared in top engine lists and won awards every year since then.

The VQ platform is V6 and capacity ranged from 2.0 to 4.0 and engines were adopted by Renault and even formed the basis for Nissan's race engines - the VQ30DETT

Stock cranks on the 3.5 turbos are strong enough to handle power approaching 1000bhp so make a good option on other VQ engines.

The CVVTCS system keeps the valve durations shorter at lower engine speeds and can alter both lift and duration. When the RPM increases the valves open for longer durations.

History, Power & Specs of the VQ35HR Engine

Infiniti models that used this engine included...

  • Infiniti EX35 Crossover SUV 297 hp (221 kW; 301 PS) 2008-2012
  • Infiniti FX35 Crossover SUV 303 hp (226 kW; 307 PS) 2009-2012
  • Infiniti M35 303 hp (226 kW; 307 PS) 2009-2010
  • Infiniti M35h Engine: 302 hp (225 kW; 306 PS), Combined: 360 hp (268 kW; 365 PS) 2011-2013
  • Infiniti G35 306 hp (228 kW; 310 PS) 2007-2008
  • Infiniti Q50 Hybrid Combined: 360 hp (268 kW; 365 PS) 2014-
  • Infiniti Q70 Hybrid Combined: 360 hp (268 kW; 365 PS) 2014-

Nissan models that used this engine included...

  • Nissan Skyline V36 350GT Sedan 308 hp (230 kW; 312 PS) 2007-2008
  • Nissan 350Z 313 hp (233 kW; 317 PS); US Market using revised SAE certified power benchmark - 306 hp (228 kW; 310 PS) 2007–2008
  • Nissan Fuga 350 GT 308 hp (230 kW; 312 PS) 2006-2008
  • Nissan Fuga Hybrid Combined: 360 hp (268 kW; 365 PS) 2010-
  • Nissan Cima Combined: 360 hp (268 kW; 365 PS) 2012-
  • Mitsubishi Dignity Combined: 360 hp (268 kW; 365 PS) 2012-
  • Tuning the Nissan VQ35HR and best VQ35HR performance parts.

Best VQ35HR upgrades

The ultimate VQ35HR upgrades on an engine are sensibly the ones that give the best value for money.

We won't be swayed by popular VQ35HR upgrades, they need to be cost effective.

Significant gains on the VQ35HR can be made from cam upgrades. Altering the cam profile alters the intake and exhaust durations on the engine and can dramatically change the power band and power output.

Fast road camshafts commonly push up the torque throughout the rpm band, you could sacrifice a little low end torque but your high end rpm power will improve.

Motorsport camshafts, push up the high end rpm power band but as a result the car will not idle smoothly and low end power nearly always suffers.

For a typical daily driver you need to match your bhp range to your preferences.

I'd never have ever asserted that a VQ35HR Competition cam is a pleasure to live with when in heavy traffic because low end power will be very lumpy. Competition cams are designed for maximum power at the top end of the RPM range, a place that most daily commutes will not permit!

Different VQ35HR engines respond better to more or less aggressive camshaft durations so view each engine as unique.

The engine timing and fuelling also will say much on the bhp gains you'll achieve.

A longer valve duration can alter the bhp band and on most engines the exhaust and intake durations do not need to match, although most cams and tuners use matched pairs there are some advantages to extending the intake or exhaust durations.

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Best Engine Mods for your car

  1. Engine Tunes - engine tuning/remapping provides the most advantage in terms of cost savings,  aftermarket ECUs, and piggyback ECUs are all alternatives.
  2. Fast road cams are one of the most significant mechanical changes, but they must be installed by someone who knows what they're doing and they are not always easy to source but you might find a local firm to regrind a stock camshaft.
  3. Intake and Exhaust - Note that on their own these mods will NOT ADD POWER in most cases, but they can help enhance power after other mods by removing the restriction.
  4. Upgrades to turbochargers and superchargers - forced induction is the most efficient approach to increase air supply, allowing you to burn more fuel and make more power. It is one of the most costly upgrades but provides the best gains.
  5. Head work - The goals of porting and flowing the head are to get air flowing into the engine while removing flow restrictions and turbulence.
  6. Typical stage 1 mods often include:
    Remaps/piggy back ECU, Intake manifolds, Sports exhaust header/manifold, drilled & smoothed airbox, Fast road camshaft, Panel air filters.

    Typical stage 2 mods often include:
    high flow fuel injectors, fuel pump upgrades, Sports catalyst & performance exhaust, induction kit, Ported and polished head, Fast road cam.

    Typical stage 3 mods often include:
    Competition cam, Engine balancing & blueprinting, Crank and Piston upgrades to alter compression, Internal engine upgrades (head flowing porting/bigger valves), Adding or Upgrading forced induction (turbo/supercharger), Twin charging conversions.

    Plan your options and then buy your tuning parts and set yourself a power target to save yourself from expensive mistakes.

    Mapping should help to unlock the full potential of all the upgrades you've done to your VQ35HR.

    (In some cases, as the factory ECU is locked flashing is not an option, so an aftermarket ECU is the route to take, and many of these will outperform factory ECU's but make sure it has knock protection and that you get it setup properly.)

    It will usually give you around 30% more power on turbocharged vehicles and you can expect to see around 15% on NA (naturally aspirated) engines, but your results often depend much on the upgrades you've fitted and the condition of your engine.

    It is vital to any tuning job to feed air into each cylinder

    Intake manifolds flow the air during the suck phase from the filter and allow it to be sucked into the engine cylinders with fuel for the squish phase.

    The size of bore and shape and flow characteristics of the Intake manifold can make a big change to fuel atomisation and engine efficiency on the VQ35HR.

    Most intake are ripe for motorsport parts, although a few OEM provide fairly well optimized intake.

    Larger VQ35HR valves, doing some 3 or 5 angle valve jobs and porting and head flowing will also lift performance, the fantastic side effect is it will allow you to get an improved performance increase on other mods.

    VQ35HR Turbo upgrades

    NA (naturally aspirated) engines need quite a lot of work when you add a turbo, so we have a separate guide to help you take into account the pros and cons of going this route on your VQ35HR

    The more air you can get into an engine, the more fuel it can burn and uprating the induction with a turbocharger upgrade makes major power gains.

    When your motor has a turbocharger modifications are relatively easy and turbo engines are made using many forged and stronger components.

    There are tuning limits for every engine, with some being very over engineered and some only able to handle stock powerWe recommend you find these restrictions and upgrade to stronger pistons, crank and engine components to handle the power.

    We see many mechanics spending a lots of money on turbo charger upgrades on the VQ35HR only to experience the car explode on it's first outing after it's first rolling road session.

    Big turbo units often suffer no power at low rpm, and little turbo units spool up really quickly but won't have the peak end engines power gains.

    Thankfully the range of turbo units is always developing and we are seeing variable vane turbo units, allowing the vane profile is altered according to speed to lower lag and increase top end performance.

    Twin scroll turbo units divert the exhaust gases into 2 channels and flow these at differently designed vanes in the turbo. They also boost the scavenging effect of the engine.

    You'll commonly see there's a limitation in the air flow sensor AFM/MAP on the VQ35HR when loads more air is being drawn into the engine.

    We see 4 bar air sensors coping with quite large power gains, whereas the OEM air sensor limited power at a much lower level.

    Adding a supercharger or additional turbo will make large power gains, although harder to configure. We have this article covering twinchargers if you want to read more.


    You will need to ensure that the engine is not starved of fuel so will have to uprate the fuelling when you start exceeding 20% of a bhp increase. We strongly recommend you to over specify your flow rate on the injectors.

    The rule of thumb is to add 20% to the flow rate when fitting an injector, this allows for injector deterioration and allows a little spare capacity should the engine need more fuel.

    We think this one is common sense, but you'll need to match your fuel injector to the type of fuel your car uses as well.

    All the following flywheel power targets will assume an injector duty cycle of 80% and a base of 58psi of fuel pressure at idle.

    6 Cylinder NA (naturally aspirated) engines

    • 58 PSI 189cc/min 200hp
    • 58 PSI 284cc/min 300hp
    • 58 PSI 378cc/min 400hp
    • 58 PSI 568cc/min 600hp

    6 Cylinder turbocharged engines

    • 58 PSI 227cc/min 200hp
    • 58 PSI 341cc/min 300hp
    • 58 PSI 454cc/min 400hp
    • 58 PSI 682cc/min 600hp

    VQ35HR Performance Exhausts

    Only look to replace your exhaust if the existing exhaust is actually creating a flow problem.

    On most factory exhausts you'll find the exhaust flow rate is still good even on modest power gains, but when you start pushing up the power levels you will need to get a better flowing exhaust.

    Sports exhausts generally help improve air flow through the engine but do not go too big or you could very well end up with a reduced flow rate. So generally speaking, keep to 1.5 to 2.5 inches for best results.

    Common exhaust restrictions come around the filters installed, so adding a better flowing high performance aftermarket one will improve air flow, and rather than doing an illegal decat, will keep the car road legal.

    Weak spots, Issues & problem areas on the VQ35HR

    The VQ35HR engines are generally reliable and solid units, as long as you follow the manufacturers service schedules, and use a good quality oil to ensure longevity. Few problems should happen as long as they are regularly serviced and maintained.

    Carbon build up in the head, particularly around the valves which will sap power or create flat spots, this is a larger issue on direct injection engines but should be looked out for on all engines. We have tips on removing carbon build up.

    Some of our members have had issues with flat spots or glitches after applying mods and upgrades or tuning, this is not usually related to this engines design, so instead see our article on diagnosing flat spots and problems after tuning which should help you get the bottom of this issue.

    Keep an eye on the oil consumption, piston ring and cylinder wear is exacerbated by poor quality fuel resulting in blow by.

    Exhaust cam cover wear and failure can result in rough idling.

    Regular oil changes are vital on the VQ35HR, especially when tuned and will help extend the life and reliability of the engine.

    If you would like to know more, or just get some friendly advice on Tuning your VQ35HR engine please join us in our car forums where you can discuss VQ35HR tuning options in more detail with our VQ35HR owners. It would also be worth reading our unbiased Nissan tuning articles to get insights into each modification and how effective they will be for your car.

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