The 2JZ vs RB26 Engine Comparison – A JDM Legends Showdown

The 2JZ vs RB26 Engine Comparison – A JDM Legends Showdown. It’s no secret that Japanese engineering has produced some of the most successful and adored inexpensive sports vehicles. The late 1990s and early 2000s saw a resurgence of Japanese togue monsters from a variety of manufacturers. Toyota and Nissan were both at the pinnacle of their respective industries, producing vehicles that have since become cultural icons such as the MkIV Supra and the Skyline R32 GT-R.

The powertrains that propelled each of those vehicles contributed significantly to their success. The MkIV Toyota Supra was powered by the 2JZ-GTE engine, which has since become synonymous with unrivaled strength and power potential. The RB26TT engine featured in the Nissan R32 GT-R is a similar beast that is famous for the same reasons as the 2JZ.

Despite appearing to be quite comparable engines on paper, their tiny changes make a significant difference in practice. At the end of the day, the 2JZ vs RB26 discussion has raged for decades and will continue for a long time. We’ll go through the technical specifications of both the 2JZ-GTE and RB26DETT engines in this article.

The 2JZ vs RB26 Engine Comparison - A JDM Legends Showdown

A Brief Comparison of the 2JZ and RB26 Engines

The RB26 vs 2JZ rivalry, like many of the most beloved performance engines in history, can be traced back to racing. The rivalry between Nissan and Toyota began in the 1980s as a result of heated competition in Japan’s SuperGT series. This rivalry stretched beyond the racetrack, as homologation regulations prompted Nissan to release the RB26-powered R32 GT-R to the general public. Toyota was forced to answer, and they did so by exposing the international market to their own inline-6 powerhouse, the 2JZ.

Nissan and Toyota learned and developed from earlier generations of inline-6 engines to create the 2JZ and RB26.

Toyota perfected their inline-6 formula through trial and error after learning from the 7M-GTE and 1JZ. And recognized that overengineering and robust build construction were vital for reliability and customer satisfaction through the success of the 1JZ engine, which was commended in almost every aspect.

The RB26 engine’s beginnings can be traced back to the mid-1960s. The basic design of the RB-series engines is quite similar to the L20A 6-cylinder, which was launched in 1965. While the RB-series has many more modern characteristics than the carbureted L20A, the first RB20 shares the same stroke and bore specs as the L20A.

Toyota 2JZ Engine Dimensions

3.0 Liter Sequential Twin-Turbo DOHC Inline-6 Engine

  • 3.0L displacement: 2997 cc
  • Twin Sequential Turbo Aspiration
  • 8.5:1 compression ratio
  • Cast iron is used to make the blocks.
  • Aluminum is the material used for the head.
  • Bore and Stroke Dimensions: 86 mm 86 mm (3.39 in 3.39 in)
  • At 5600 rpm, the engine produces 320 horsepower (206 kW; 280 PS).
  • At 4000 rpm, torque is 333 lbft (451 Nm).
  • Toyota Aristo (JZS147, JZS161), Toyota MkIV Supra JZA80 Vehicle Applications

The 2JZ is a 3.0 liter inline-6 engine with two turbos that produces 320 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque. The horsepower and torque ratings contradict those supplied by Toyota at the time for the 2JZ-GTE. In the 1990s, Japanese automakers agreed to cap horsepower at 276hp as part of a gentleman’s agreement. Despite the agreement, most cars released at the time produced significantly more power than was claimed. Furthermore, the 2JZ was designed to handle close to three times the 276 manufacturer rating.

The 2JZ incorporates a number of current technology innovations that improve performance. The 2JZ-GTE engine was one of the first to adopt a sequential turbo design, which helped to reduce turbo lag. The 2JZ received an updated variable valve timing system in its latter form, excluding North American cars. Toyota refers to this as the VVT-i system. In 1997, the 2JZ received this modification, which increased fuel efficiency and boosted the mid-range powerband.

Oil-cooled pistons and huge main bearing journals are also notable features. Both of these features help to keep the rotating assembly lubricated and balanced even at high RPMs.

Toyota 2JZ Power

When you look at the remainder of the Toyota 2JZ specs, it’s evident that this engine was designed to handle a lot of power and boost. This engine is all about power. The 2JZ-GTE’s engine block is made of cast iron, allowing it to resist unusually high boost pressure. Because the 2JZ has a closed deck design, the odds of cylinder distortion are extremely minimal. A low pressure 8.5:1 compression ratio also helps to allow for more boost.

The crankshaft and rods on the 2JZ are forged. When these two elements are cast rather than forged, they fail first when subjected to high boost. Toyota covered their bases on this front, leaving the 2JZ open to aftermarket modification.

There is so much aftermarket potential that we wrote a complete post on it. To summarize, the 2JZ engine is one of the most adaptable engines in history. It is relatively simple to achieve 400+ whp with simple bolt-on mods. The 2JZ is capable of producing 600-800 horsepower without having to open up the engine. Because the stock internals and bottom end are so sturdy, upgrading any internal components is rarely necessary.

Specifications for the Nissan RB26 Engine

  • 3.0 Liter Sequential Twin-Turbo DOHC Inline-6 Engine
  • The displacement is 2569 cc (2.57L).
  • TwinTurbo is an aspiration.
  • 8.5:1 compression ratio
  • Cast iron is used to make the blocks.
  • Aluminum is the material used for the head.
  • Bore and Stroke Dimensions: 86 mm 73.7 mm
  • 276 horsepower (205 kW) at 6800 rpm
  • At 4000 rpm, torque is 260 lbft (353.6 Nm).
  • Skyline R32 GT-R, Skyline R33 GT-R, Skyline R34 GT-R, and Nissan Stagea 260RS

The RB26 is one of Nissan’s hallmark twin-turbo inline-6 engines, with a factory-specified 276 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. In reality, factory RB26 horsepower was said to be slightly higher. Nissan installed a boost restrictor in all RB26-powered vehicles to limit power. Stock power is closer to 300 horsepower with the restrictor removed.

The RB26’s block is over-square, which means the engine’s stroke is longer than its bore. This benefits the RB26 in terms of high-RPM speed, but comes at the expense of low-RPM torque. In fact, limited torque is one of the RB’s main shortcomings in stock form.

The RB26TT, as a racing-derived engine, has numerous noteworthy technological elements that were innovative at the time. The RB26TT, for example, has six distinct throttle bodies, one for each cylinder. This significantly improves throttle response time.

It also has four valves per cylinder, which improves breathing by allowing more gas and air into the combustion chamber. Coil-on-plug ignition systems were uncommon in street cars in the 1980s, but the RB26 engine has one. This improves the RB26’s ignition reliability and consistency.

Strength of RB26TT

The RB26TT, like the 2JZ-GTE, was developed and built with strength in mind. In comparison to what it is genuinely capable of, the RB’s factory output of 276 horsepower is a farce. There are a few prominent aspects that contribute to the RB’s strength.

The RB26TT, like the 2JZ, has a cast-iron block and an aluminum cylinder head. The engine’s strong structure means it can resist the huge pressure that can result from craking up the boost. While the RB26 has forged rods, its pistons are cast, and neither is noted for its robustness. The majority of RB26 owners that want high boost and power levels upgrade to fully forged internals.

Having said that, the RB26 does have some essential engine preservation measures. The RB is a non-interference engine, which means that if timing is suddenly interrupted, the valvetrain will remain essentially intact. It also employs belt-driven camshafts for direct valvetrain actuation. There is no need for lifters or connections in this system, which increases reliability and decreases weight.

The RB26, like the 2JZ, is an extremely powerful engine. It also has a comparable level of aftermarket support as the 2JZ. Because it is one of Japan’s most popular engines, there is no shortage of bolt-on parts available for it. Most enthusiasts believe that the RB26 is factory equipped to produce up to 600 horsepower without the need for any internal modifications. Having saying that, the RB isn’t quite as powerful as the 2JZ. This is due to the lack of forged pistons and connecting rods in the RB26, which makes them prone to failure at high power figures.

Parallels between the 2JZ and the RB26

Based on their on-paper stats, the 2JZ and RB26 have more in common than they do differences. Both are solidly built, non-interference twin-turbo inline-6 engines with roughly 300 horsepower. They also have the same compression ratio and can withstand significantly more horsepower than its standard counterparts.

Design Parallels Between the 2JZ and the RB26

We’ll start with the most evident parallels in the design of both engines. The 2JZ and RB26 are both inline-6 engines. While this may appear to be self-evident, it is critical to understand why both manufacturers chose to produce high-performance engines with a straight 6 formula. The main cause for this is engine balancing. Inline engines, as opposed to “V” engines, are smoother and more responsive. This is because the pistons in the front and back of the engine mirror each other’s movement, negating the fundamental forces.

The cast iron bottom end and aluminum cylinder head are shared by the 2JZ and RB26. A robust bottom end is one of the most significant traits to consider in performance engines. The redlines on the 2JZ and RB26 are both relatively high (7,200 on the VVT-i 2JZ and 8,000 on the RB26TT). The stronger the bottom end of an engine, the more rotational energy it produces. This is especially true for forced-induction engines, where the increased pressure within the engine necessitates the use of stronger construction materials.

Both the 2JZ and the RB26 are non-interference engines. This implies that if the timing belt on either engine snapped, the valvetrain would not be destroyed. Non-interference engines conserve space between the pistons at top-dead center and the valves at maximum lift. There would be some overlap in interference engines, allowing the pistons to make contact with the valves.

Performance Comparison of the 2JZ and the RB26

Despite the fact that the 2JZ and RB26 are extremely similar in terms of overall architecture, they behave very differently on the road. Having said that, due to their structure, they do share some performance characteristics.

Forced induction is used by both the 2JZ and the RB26 to increase horsepower and performance. The engines are both twin-turbocharged, with the 2JZ employing sequential turbo technology. Because both engines are twin-turbocharged and have comparable build, they have somewhat similar driving characteristics. This is especially true at higher RPM ranges after the RB26 enters boost. Because the RB has significantly less torque than the 2JZ, identical power characteristics aren’t clearly obvious until around 3,000 RPM.

The particular power outputs of the 2JZ and RB26 are also extremely comparable. This simply means that both engines produce the same amount of horsepower per liter of displacement. The specific power output of the 2JZ is 106.66 hp/l, whereas the RB26’s is 106.15 hp/l. In theory, this makes the RB26 the more efficient of the two engines. Despite having roughly 0.5L less displacement, it only delivers 0.51 horsepower per liter less. In terms of efficiency, the two are nearly identical.

Differences between 2JZ and RB26 engines

While the similarities between the two engines are obvious, the variances in how each engine performs are significant. The displacement differential between the 2JZ and RB26 is maybe the most significant. Similarly, the stroke and bore of each engine are unique. This variance in engine geometry is significant because it affects how each engine provides power.

Differences in displacement between the 2JZ and the RB26

As previously stated, the fundamental distinction between the two engines is displacement. The 2JZ has a 2997cc (rounded to 3L) engine, whilst the RB26 has a 2569cc (rounded to 2.6L) displacement. Despite being a relatively minor change in reality, it creates a significant impact in performance. The greater displacement accounts for the majority of the 2JZ’s 44 horsepower advantage over the RB26. While it is a significant increase in horsepower, the 2JZ’s added 73 lb-ft of torque is the more significant differential. One of the most prominent criticisms leveled at the RB26 is its lack of low-end torque when compared to the 2JZ.

Another element contributing to the RB26’s lack of low-end torque when compared to the 2JZ is engine geometry. The RB26 has an 86mm stroke and a 73.7mm bore. As a result, the RB26 is an over-square engine, with a stroke that is greater than its bore. When it comes to performance, over-square engines are more tuned for high-RPM power delivery. That makes sense in the context of the RB26, which has a very high rev limit. Because you tend to stay at higher RPMs on the track, over-square engines are better suited for racing applications. All of this comes at the expense of low-RPM torque.

In contrast to the RB26, the 2JZ has a bore of 86mm as well as a stroke of 86mm. As a result, the 2JZ has a perfectly square engine geometry. In contrast to the over-square geometry of the RB26, the square shape of the 2JZ strikes a balance between low-end torque and mid-range power.

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Other Technical Distinctions

The turbochargers used by both the 2JZ and the RB26 are one of the most essential technological components. Two Garrett T25 ball-bearing turbochargers with ceramic internals power the RB26DETT. While they are an excellent choice for RB26s with stock power, they have proved to be unreliable at greater boost levels. The turbos of the RB26 operate in true twin-turbo mode, spooling simultaneously.

The 2JZ, on the other hand, has a series of sequentially linked Hitachi ceramic turbos that spool at different times. Sequential turbo configurations, in general, use two different sized turbos to create boost at both low and high RPMs. That isn’t the case because the 2JZ was created at a time when sequential turbo technology was still in its infancy. The Hitachi turbos on the 2JZ are the same size, but they spool at separate times to reduce turbo lag. Despite being cutting-edge technology at the time, the 2JZ’s sequential system performed admirably and was exceedingly dependable.

Another significant difference is the RB26’s lack of a variable valve timing mechanism. Variable valve timing alters the operation of the intake and exhaust valves at various engine speeds. This simply adjusts how an engine works at various RPMs and can boost power at higher RPMs. With the exception of US-spec engines, Toyota installed its VVT-i variable valve timing technology to the 2JZ in 1997. Many people thought VVT-i was a nice addition to the already powerful 2JZ. Despite the addition to the 2JZ, Nissan did not use equivalent technology in the RB26.

Conclusion of the 2JZ vs RB26 race

At the end of the day, neither the 2JZ nor the RB26 can be dismissed. Both engines are game changers for their respected manufacturers and have been utilized in some of the most important JDM vehicles ever launched. Both engines were built with aftermarket modifiability in mind and used a balanced inline-6 cylinder configuration.

The strength of both of these engines is their selling point. Because of their nearly robust cast iron engine blocks and aluminum cylinder heads, they can endure more than twice their factory horsepower rating. They also contain engine preservation technologies, non-interference architecture, and a closed deck design in case something goes wrong.

In terms of performance, the 2JZ wins. The majority of the performance advantages of the 2JZ are due to its larger displacement and square engine architecture, which preserves low-end torque. There’s no denying that both engines are beasts. Having said that, the 2JZ is superior in a variety of ways.