Suzuki M engine Tuning

"All you need to know about tuning the Suzuki M engine!"

Introduction to Tuning and Performance Upgrades for the Suzuki M Series Engine

The Suzuki M Series engine, renowned for its robustness and efficiency, has been a staple in the automotive world. Many of our readers are looking for upgrades and mods for these engines, and the M15A and M16A seem to be the most popular out there.

Produced from the early 2000s, this engine series powered a variety of vehicles, showcasing Suzuki's engineering prowess.

The M Series, including popular variants like the M15A, M16A, and M18A, was designed with versatility in mind, catering to different driving needs.

In the realm of car enthusiasts, tuning the M Series engine unlocks its true potential, especially with upgrades like the ME221 ECU and throttle bodies.

Let's dive into these upgrades and understand why they're top choices for enhancing your Suzuki M Series engine.

History, Power & Specs of the Suzuki M series Engine

This DOHC engine ranged from 1.3 to 1.8 and had a long production run and proved to be a reliable powerplant. It gave 82 to 135hp depending on the tune and engine configuration.

M13A

  • 62.5 kW 84 hp @6,000rpm 81 lbft @4,100rpm
  • 68 kW 91 hp @5,800rpm  86 lbft @4,200rpm

M13AA

Jimny

  • 84 hp 62.5 kW @6000rpm, 110Nm 81 lbft @4100rpm

M15A

Suzuki Swift
Suzuki Ignis
Suzuki SX4
Suzuki S-Cross

  • 100 hp 74.5 kW @5900rpm, 98 lbft 133Nm @4100rpm
  • 111 hp 83 kW @6400rpm, 105 lbft 142 Nm @4100rpm
  • 109 hp 81 kW @6000rpm, 138 Nm 102 lbft @4400rpm

M16A

Suzuki SX4
Suzuki SX4 S-Cross
Suzuki Liana
Suzuki Grand Vitara
Suzuki Swift Sport ZC31s/EC32s
Suzuki Vitara

This engine had many different setups and options including VVT MPFi and  different tunes.

  • 102 hp @5,500rpm 106 lbft @4000rpm
  • 106 hp @5,500rpm 106 lbft @4000rpm
  • 101–106 hp @5,600rpm  115 lbft @4400rpm
  • 102–108 hp  @5600rpm,  122–129 lbft @4200
  • 102–107.4 hp  @5600rpm,  140 lbft
  • 117 hp 87 kW @6000rpm 115 lbft @4400rpm
  • 125 hp 93 kW @6800rpm, 148 Nm 109 lbft @4800rpm
  • 136 hp 101 kW @6900rpm, 160 Nm 118 lbft @4400rpm
  • 120 bhp 89 kW @6,000rpm 115 lbft @4,400rpm

M18A

Suzuki Aerio Aust. & N.Z.
Suzuki Liana Aust. & N.Z.
Suzuki SX-4 China

  • 123 hp at 5,500rpm  125 lbft at 4,200rpm.

Tuning the Suzuki M engine and best M engine performance parts.

Best M engine mods

When talking about the greatest modifications for your M engine, we are going to focus on the mods that give the best power gain for you money.

The camshaft profile plays a big part in the engines power output so camshaft upgrades make quite a large difference. The intake and exhaust durations will alter depending on the chosen camshaft profile, so large engines power gains are on offer for camshaft upgrades.

Fast road camshafts tend to boost the power over the rev band, you might lose a little bottom end power but high end rpm power will improve.

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

A Race camshaft won't do well if driving in heavy traffic.

You should ideally match your bhp range to your driving style so for a road car stick with a fast road M engine camshaft

Some M engines respond better to more aggressive cam durations so set your engine up on a rolling road.

The ecu map and fuelling also have an effect on the torque gains you'll get.

A longer valve duration can alter the torque 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.

Please watch our video which covers the 5 principles of tuning your car. Be sure to keep up with our latest YouTube content and subscribe.

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. The ME221 ECU is often used on the M series Suzuki engines.
  2. Throttle Bodies - allow better air intake and we've seen around 15-20hp gain.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Head work - The goals of porting and flowing the head are to get air flowing into the engine while removing flow restrictions and turbulence.

Typical stage 1 mods often include: Sports exhaust header/manifold, Remaps/piggy back ECU, Panel air filters, Intake manifolds, Fast road camshaft, drilled & smoothed airbox.

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

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

The M engine power trains make great tuning projects and we see that there is a lot of parts and performance parts around.

remap helps release the full potential of all the parts you've done to your M engine.

(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.)

ME221 ECU Upgrade

The ME221 Engine Control Unit (ECU) stands out as a pivotal upgrade for the M Series engines.

An ECU is the brain of your engine, controlling vital functions like fuel delivery and ignition timing.

Upgrading to the ME221 ECU means more precise control over these aspects, leading to improved performance and efficiency.

This aftermarket ECU allows for custom tuning, enabling you to tailor your engine's behavior to your driving style.

With the ME221, expect smoother power delivery, enhanced throttle response, and the ability to unlock the engine's hidden power.

This upgrade is particularly beneficial for those aiming to optimize their engine for specific conditions, be it track days or daily driving.

It will usually give you around around 15% on NA (naturally aspirated) engines, but figures achieved often rely on the parts you've applied and the condition of your engine.

Throttle Bodies

Throttle bodies are another key upgrade for the M Series engine.

They play a crucial role in managing the air intake of your engine.

Upgrading the throttle bodies means allowing more air into the engine, which, when combined with appropriate fuel adjustments, significantly boosts performance.

Larger throttle bodies increase the air flow, resulting in better throttle response and a noticeable increase in horsepower.

This upgrade is ideal for drivers seeking a more responsive and engaging driving experience.

Additionally, when paired with the ME221 ECU, the enhanced throttle bodies contribute to a more efficient and powerful engine setup.

Air Intake Improvements

Pulling air and fuel into the M engine is the whole point to any tuning project.

Intake manifold take the air from the air filter and allow it to be drawn into the engine and mixed with fuel.

The size of bore and shape and rate of flow of the Intake manifold can make a large effect on to fuel engine efficiency on the M engine.

I usually find intake are crying out for a performance upgrade, although a few makers provide decently flowing intake.

Larger M engine valves, getting M engine port enlargement and head flowing will also increase power, and as an added benefit will permit a greater power increase on other parts.

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 M engine

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

If your car is turbo charged upgrades are going to make more power and you will discover turbo engines will have uprated components.

There are tuning limits for every engine, with some being extremely strong and some only just able to handle stock power

We recommend you find these limitations and fit higher quality crank and pistons to utilize the power.

There are many tuners spending a lot of money on turbo upgrades on the M engine only to have the engine go up in smoke on it's first outing after it's been enthusiastically driven.

It is common that there is a limitation in the air flow sensor (AFM/MAF/MAP) on the M engine when loads more air is being fed into the engine.

You'll see that 4 bar air sensors coping with quite large power gains, whereas the OEM air sensor was restricting performance at a much lower level.

Adding a supercharger or additional turbo will make large torque gains, although harder to get working. We have this article on twincharging if you want to read more.

Fuelling

You will need to ensure that the engine is not starved of fuel so will have to pay attention to the fuelling when you start extending past 20% of a torque increase.We strongly recommend you to over specify your injector capacity.

The rule of thumb is to add 20% capacity when fitting an injector, this takes into account injector deterioration and affords a little spare capacity should the engine require 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.

Exhaust

Only look to improve your exhaust if the current exhaust is actually causing a restriction.

On most factory exhausts you'll see the flow rate is fine 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 can help equal out the flow of gases through the engine.

But if your exhaust pipe is too big, ie: it's over 2.5 inches bore, you will lose a great deal of your flow rate and end up lacking power and torque.

Usual exhaust restrictions can be located the catalyst and filters installed, so adding a better flowing sports alternative is the answer. This keeps the car road legal and will flow much better due to it's higher internal surface area and design, so has the added benefit of keeping your car road legal. The alternative decat should be considered an off road only mod, as removing a catalyst is illegal in most territories and regions for road registered cars..

Weak spots, Issues & problem areas on the M engines

The M 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.

Regular oil changes are vital on the M engine, 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 M engine please join us in our friendly forum where you can discuss tuning options in more detail with our M engine owners. It would also be worth reading our unbiased tuning articles to get a full grasp of the benefits and drawbacks of each modification.

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We love hearing about our website visitors projects, especially the mods done and which work best for you on your car. Which helps us keep our guides and tips up to date helping others with their modified car projects. Your feedback and comments are used to keep this page up to date, and help improve the accuracy of these M engine tuning guides which get regular updates and revisions.

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