Five Worst Engines | Overhyped and Underengineered
DSPORT Five Worst Engines

2) Toyota 4A-GE

Its Factual Performance is Much Less than its Fictional Hype

Thanks to the drift-focused anime Initial D, professional driver Keiichi Tsuchiya and the motorsport of drifting, legions of Corolla and subsequently, 4A-GE fanatics took formation in the early 2000’s. Tsuchiya raced the AE86 to the top of the podium in a number of racing series in Japan during the mid 80’s, which in part became a trademark vehicle to him. When Initial D came out, the protagonist of the show drove a Corolla against such foes as an RX7, Silvia, 180SX and Skyline GT-R. What enthusiasts did not realize early on was the challenge they faced attempting to make horsepower with an engine that wasn’t bred well for performance. While the cast iron block was a durable foundation to pair with the Yamaha-designed cylinder heads (both 16 and 20 valve versions), the power output of the 4A-GE was uninspiring at best. It wasn’t until the 20-valve head with Toyota’s variable valve timing (VVT) was introduced with the FWD AE101 that output began to show promise. Unfortunately, no RWD option was available. For the AE86 fanatics, increasing power required upgrading to individual throttle bodies, swapping in carburetors, forced induction or nitrous injection. While we understand that purists want to stick to the original engine in the vehicle, swapping out the 4A-GE for a more-capable and modern four-cylinder is never a bad idea. 4AGE OPINION WHAT’S HOT: • Both 4- and 5-valve cylinder heads were developed by Yamaha • AW11 MR2 featured 4A-GZE with Supercharger • Dual overhead camshafts • Direct actuated shim over bucket valvetrain • Iron block • Non-interference head WHAT’S NOT: • Relatively heavy with limited horsepower and torque output • Camshaft and cylinder head upgrades are a must • Limited displacement • World’s most overhyped engine (popular without warrant) • Factory intake manifold is poorly designed – needs ITBs or carburetors to make real power • Head gaskets are prone to failure


Manufacturer: Toyota
Years In Production: 1983-1998
Engine Code: 4A-GE
Displacement (cc): 1,587.3cc
Bore & Stroke (mm): 81mm x 77mm
Peak Horsepower (@ RPM): 112 hp @ 6,600 RPM, 157 hp @ 7,400 RPM (20V), 167 hp @ 7,400 RPM (4A-GZE)
Peak Torque (@ RPM): 97 lb-ft @ 4,800 RPM, 119 lb-ft @ 5,600 RPM (20V), 155 lb-ft @ 5,600 RPM (4A-GZE)
Pistons/Compression Ratio: 9.4:1, 10.3:1, 10.5:1 (20V)
Block Material: Iron
Head Material: Aluminum
Camshafts: 240-degree (big port), 232-degree (small port)
Valves / Springs / Retainers: 16 valve, 20 valve, Shim over bucket valvetrain
Throttle Body: Single
Fuel Injectors: 182cc/min, 200 cc/min, 210 cc/min, 250 cc/min (4A-GE), 365 cc/min (4A-GZE)
Ignition System: Distributor
Applications: 1983-1985 Toyota Celica (AA63)
1986-1989 Toyota Celica (AT160)
1984-1987 Toyota Corolla (AE86)
1987-1993 Toyota Corolla (AE92)
1984-1989 Toyota MR2 (AW11)
1990-1992 Geo Prizm GSi

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