Toyota 2ZZGE Tuning

"All you need to know about tuning and performance parts on the Toyota 2ZZ engine!"

The Toyota 2ZZ are good project engines and with a few sensible motorsport tuning mods like remaps, turbo improvements and camshafts you will certainly improve your driving enjoyment. Developed on the 1.8L VVTi 1ZZ-FE engine's foundations, the 2ZZ-GE is a more compact, lighter, and more fuel-efficient engine.

An NA (naturally aspirated) engine with a small displacement and high revs is used, as is Honda's strategy. It is a 1.8 liter straight-four 4-stroke natural aspirated gasoline engine from the Toyota ZZ-family, with a displacement of 1795 cc (109.5 cu in). As a result of the lightweight rotating engine assembly, which included forged steel connecting rods, revised pistons and a high-compression-ratio piston, the newly built 2ZZ-GE was capable of withstanding high rpm near to its redline.

Let us look at 2ZZ tuning and show the optimum modifications.

History, Power & Specs of the 2ZZ GE Engine

The dual camshaft profile provides economy at low RPM and lots of power at the higher end (6200rpm+), much like the Honda VTEC system.

It evolved from the 1.8L VVTi 1ZZ-FE engine's foundations, the 2ZZ-GE was more compact, lighter, and a more fuel-efficient engine.

A NA (naturally aspirated) engine with a small displacement and high rev range is used, as is Honda's strategy. It is a 1.8 liter straight-four 4-stroke natural aspirated gasoline engine from the Toyota ZZ-family, with a displacement of 1795 cc.


  • Toyota Celica SS-II (Japan, 190 PS 187 hp
  • Toyota Celica GT-S (USA, 180 hp 134 kW
  • Toyota Celica 190/T-Sport UK, 189 hp
  • Toyota Celica SX (Australia, 189 hp  133 lbf⋅ft
  • Toyota Celica ZR (Australia, 189 hp 133 lbf⋅ft
  • Toyota Corolla Sportivo Australia, 189 hp
  • Toyota Corolla TS (Europe, 189 hp
  • Toyota Corolla Compressor (Europe, supercharged, 222 hp
  • Toyota Corolla XRS (USA, 164 / 170 hp)
  • Toyota Corolla Fielder Z Aero Tourer Japan, 187 hp
  • Toyota Corolla Runx Z Aero Tourer Japan, 187 hp
  • Toyota Corolla RunX RSi South Africa, 189 hp 133 lbf⋅ft
  • Toyota Matrix XRS USA, 164–180 hp
  • Pontiac Vibe GT (USA, 164–180 hp
  • Toyota Voltz Z Japan, 180 hp
  • WiLL VS 1.8
  • Lotus Elise North America/UK, 190 hp
  • Lotus Exige (US/UK, 190 hp & 243 hp supercharged
  • Lotus Exige CUP 260 US/UK, supercharged, 256 hp
  • Lotus 2-Eleven US/UK, supercharged, 252 hp

Tuning the Toyota 2ZZ and best 2ZZ performance parts.

Best 2ZZ-GE tuning mods

Just because particular tuning mods appear in lots of 2ZZ projects doesn't mean it is good, we shall best tuning mods that will give your 2ZZ the best value for money to power increase.

A power target of around 200-225 on the stock 2ZZ engine is possible, and larger gains come from internal engine mods.

Getting the VVTL-i lift to kick in at around 5400 rpm acts much like a fast road cam profile would and really helps lift the low end performance. This can be achieved via a hydra stand alone ECU tune. See our guide to aftermarket ECUs for more information on how these work and why you should consider one for your 2ZZ project.

Significant gains on the 2ZZ can be made from cam upgrades if you can source a fast road cam profile in your area, a regrind on the stock cam is the alternative but ensure you get the maximum valve lift when it's installed. Altering the cam profile alters the intake and exhaust durations on the engine and can dramatically change the engines power and power output.

Fast road camshafts tend to bump the performance throughout the rev band, you could sacrifice a little low down bhp but your high end rpm power will improve.

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

On a daily driver should ideally to match your torque band to your cars usage.

I'd be completely gobsmacked if you find a 2ZZ Race cam is a pleasure to live with when driving around busy urban areas. This is because a competition cam causes a very lumpy idle, and makes the car more prone to stall or jerk along in stop start traffic, sadly though many ignore this and end up ruining a perfectly good car and having to revert back to a fast road, or OEM cam profile.

Some 2ZZ engines respond better to less aggressive cam durations than others.

The ecu map and fuel pump and injectors also will say much on the power gains you'll achieve.

Altering valve durations can alter the power 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.

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

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

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

The 2ZZ power trains respond well to mods and we're finding that there are increasing numbers of upgrades and performance parts around.

ECU flashing will help to establish the full potential of all the upgrades you've fitted to your 2ZZ GE.

(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 the outcome usually differs on the upgrades you've applied and the condition of your engine.

Pulling more air and fuel into each cylinder is the main goal to any car tuning task.

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

Design and rate of flow of the Intake manifold can make a big difference to fuel engine efficiency on the 2ZZ.

Many mass produced engine intake manifolds are needing motorsport parts, although some OEM provide well optimised intake manifolds.

Increasing the 2ZZ valve size, getting port matching and head flowing will also raise bhp and torque, this will raise potential for raising the bhp and torque increase on other mods.

2ZZ 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 2ZZ

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.

When your car is fitted with a turbo parts are going to make more power and you'll see that turbo charged engines already contain more solid components.

There are practical limits for every engine, with some being incredibly solid and some only just able to handle stock power

See where you'll find these restrictions and upgrade to better quality crank and pistons to cope with the power.

It's not unheard of drivers spending a fortune on turbocharger upgrades on the 2ZZ only to experience the whole thing explode on it's first outing after it's completed.

Large upgraded turbo chargers tend to suffer no power at low rpm, and low capacity turbo chargers spool up quickly but don't have the peak rpm engines power gains.

Thankfully the range of turbochargers is always developing and we are seeing variable vane turbochargers, where the vane profile is altered according to speed to lower lag and increase top end torque.

Twin scroll turbochargers divert the exhaust gases into 2 channels and feed these at differently designed vanes in the turbocharger. They also improve the scavenging effect of the engine.

It is common that there is a restriction in the air flow sensor AFM/MAF on the 2ZZ when a lot more air is being fed into the engine.

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

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

2ZZ Fuelling Mods

When you improve the bhp you will need to pay attention to the fuel delivery.

More bhp needs more fuel. We would recommend you to over specify your injector capacity.

As a rule of thumb add 20% when specifying an injector, helps cope with injector deterioration and provides 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.

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

4 Cylinder turbocharged engines

  • 58 PSI 340cc/min 200hp
  • 58 PSI 511cc/min 300hp

4 Cylinder NA (naturally aspirated) engines

  • 58 PSI 285cc/min 200hp
  • 58 PSI 426cc/min 300hp

4 Cylinder supercharged engines

  • 58 PSI 312cc/min 200hp
  • 58 PSI 468cc/min 300hp

Exhaust mods for the 2ZZ

You should look to uprate your exhaust if the current exhaust is actually creating a restriction in flow.

On most factory exhausts you should find that the exhaust 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.

It should be noted that the stock 2ZZ headers flow really well, and are quite hard to improve upon, but the PPE race header does offer some benefits over the stock setup and is worth investigating for your modified 2ZZ project.

Sports exhausts generally help improve airflow through the engine but avoid an exhaust that is too big or you might just stuff your flow rate and make things worse. So generally speaking, keep to a size of 1.5 to 2.5 inches for best results.

Common exhaust restrictions are in the catalyst installed, so adding a faster flowing sports alternative is the answer. This keeps the car road legal and will flow much better due to its 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 2ZZ

The 2ZZ 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 2ZZ, especially when tuned and will help extend the life and reliability of the engine.

Early engines had problems with the lift bolts, which reduced performance as the higher lift cam profile could not kick in. By 2002 this issue was resolved.

If you would like to know more, or just get some friendly advice on Tuning your 2ZZ engine please join us in our friendly forum where you can discuss tuning options in more detail with our 2ZZ owners. It would also be worth reading our unbiased tuning articles to get a full grasp of the benefits and drawbacks of each modification.

Please help us improve these tips by sending us your feedback in the comments box below.

We love to hear what our visitors have got up to and which upgrades 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 2ZZ tuning guides which get regular updates and revisions.

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