The Toyota 4A-GE engine is one of the most recognizable sport compact four cylinder engines, because of it’s high revving ability and small compact design. A tad short in the torque delivery with a total displacement of 1687cc, the 4A-GE can rev easily to compensate for the lack of grunt. With a stroke of 71mm and bore of 81mm the 4A-GE utilizes a DOHC cylinder head and is modified, swapped and converted to this day because of it’s low cost and ease to work on.
To combat the issue of a smaller engine, Toyota kept power to weight ratio imperative as they continued to lighten the engine. Aluminum cylinder head and pistons help rotational mass and keeps the engine light, while the cast iron shortblock can take the punishment many enthusiasts can dole out. This combination helped Toyota distinguish the 4A-GE as one of the most smallest powerful engines in it’s stable of four cylinder engines in the mid 80s.
The success of the 4A-GE has enjoyed several revisions and reiterations from Toyota, as they continued to build and redesign the diminutive engine. Bursting onto the scene in 1983, the 4A-GE has undergone five different generations, that are all available through the JDM importer of your choosing. While this engine still has legions of fans, there’s a select few who want to ask, what is the 4AGE engine appeal? What makes it so great? We’ll go over those points today in our FAQ about the 4AGE Toyota engine.
First generation 4A-GE
One of Toyota’s early EFI multi-point sequential fuel injection systems, the 4A-GE was originally intended as a compact performance engine, much like many of the other JDM four cylinders during that era. Like the B18C1 four cylinder from Honda, the Toyota 4AGE utilizes a butterfly system that adjusts the intake runner length and velocity of air intake. Toyota’s ECU closes the intake runner butterflies to help increase velocity and improve low end and mid-range torque.
The first generation 4A-GE was produced between May 1983 and May 1987 and can be found in traverse setup ( front drive ) or the longitudinal mounting. The Toyota AE86 Corolla GT, as well as the Corolla Levin and Sprinter Trueno are best suited for RWD transplants. JDM FWD models like the early AW11 MR2 and the AE82 Corolla can be imported with the transversally positioned 4A-GE. These first gen motors have a compression ratio of 9.4:1 and outputs 120bhp at 6600 RPM.
Toyota found that a increase in power was the first order of business when revising the 4A-GE, and the second generation delivered in spades. In 1987, Toyota upped the ante by not only improving the engine with exterior casting designs, but also increased connecting rod bearing sizes and improved the crankshaft. To top this all off, they slapped on a supercharger that is most commonly seen in the early model AW11 MR2’s. The engine is called the 4A-GZE engine and it’s very popular among the turbocharger crowd.
This generation of 4A-GE uses a Hot-Wire style AFM and improved fuel delivery to keep up with the demands of the supercharged motor. This engine can be found in the AE92 Corolla, the Levin and Trueno as well as the aforementioned AW11 MR2. We have many customers who ditch the supercharger setup to opt for a CXracing style turbo and manifold, as shown below.
By it’s fourth year in production in the summer of 1990 the 4A-GE was improved yet again by Toyota. Not satisfied with the legions of fans asking what is the 4AGE good at, Toyota upped the power by increasing compression from 9.4:1 to 10.3:1. The improved compression pistons were given the royal treatment, including a set of oil squirters to help keep piston temperatures down. The engine block had it’s oil passages reworked to accept these new oil squirters, something that paved the way for the 2JZGTE and 4G63 engines also from Japan.
Valvetrain was also upgraded by way of cam timing and improved camshafts, these new cams had 7.1mm of lift and 232° of duration lift whereas earlier generations had 7.56 and 240° respectively. Redline was also raised to 7200 rpm with improvements to the cylinder head valvetrain components.
The third generation also ditched the AFM which had become restrictive and subject to MAF overrun. The USDM version of the 4A-GE was equipped with MAF sensors for emissions purposes, while most of the rest of the world received the Manifold Absolute Pressure driven engine. The butterfly actuated TVIS was also scrapped in this version, making it an easier and simpler engine to swap and modify.
This JDM engine can be found in the AE92 Corolla GT and Carina models, and because of the engine improvements increased overall power to 140hp at 6800 RPM.
Late in 1991 Toyota released the first 20 valve version of it’s very popular racing motor. With five valves now per cylinder, the 4A-GE received a brand new cylinder head with increased valve ports from 26.5mm to 29mm, as well as the fifth valve opening. This new 4A-GE also received a new set of camshafts that were more aggressive and designed for more mid range and top end power and performance. The intake camshaft much like today’s engines, featured Toyota’s first VVT-i system to improve midrange power and reduce emissions.
The cylinder head wasn’t where Toyota stopped when improving the intake, they also opted for individual throttle bodies on each cylinder and a radical tubular header design that helped bring the 4A-GE some much needed power. Another bump in compression to 10.5:1 netted the fourth generation 4AGE a horsepower rating of 160hp and this engine can only be found in the JDM AE101 Corolla.
It wasn’t until the summer of 1995 when Toyota revised the 4A-GE for the last time. With so many improvements and reiterations, the 4A-GE at this stage of it’s production life a very well mannered, high revving sport compact four cylinder engine. What is the 4AGE changes for the fifth generation? Toyota decided to crack open the four cylinder for this set of improvements.
Reducing the overall rotational mass, Toyota ditched the crankshaft, pistons and rods and replaced them with lightweight units. Compression ratio got yet another bump up to 11.0:1 and the camshaft profiles were again massaged, while duration was unchanged the lift was increased to 8.2 mm from 7.97mm.
The intake throttle bodies were increased to 45mm from 42mm and a larger intake plenum was used to improve airflow. The AFM was again traded in for the MAP system the 4A-GE had used previously in it’s shelf life.
Fifth generation was delivering 165hp and it was only used in JDM Corolla AE111 series, and the engine is plentiful having been a production engine until the 2000’s. The 4A-GE was discontinued in the winter of 2002, making it a great choice for JDM importers and engine swappers everywhere.
- Model 4A-GE
- Displacement (cc) 1587
- Power Output (hp) 115 – 165
- Compression Ratio 9.4:1 – 11.0:1
- Bore (mm) 81.0
- Stroke (mm) 77.0