Nissan SR20VE: Everything You Need To Know

Nissan is one of the most recognized and respected automakers in the industry. They always try to think outside the box and shocks us with engines that will make us raise our eyebrows and say, how come we haven’t think of that concept.

Anyway, Nissan’s engine lineup is outstanding. Just think about the Skyline vehicles, and you’ll know.

Considering their thirst for powerful but classy engines, they created a lightweight version, and that family is the SR series; the SR family replaced the CA engines. And today, we will talk about one of its most known members, the SR20VE and SR20VET.

Join me as we discuss the engine’s power, design, applications, reliability, specifications, and many more.

What are Nissan SR20VE Engines?

The Nissan SR20VE is a sporty-type version of the SR20DE, apart from its turbocharged and twin-turbo variants. SR20VE is a naturally-aspirated, water-cooled, straight-four, four-cylinder gasoline engine produced by Nissan Motors in the Nissan Yokohama plant from 1997 until 2003.

It features a lightweight aluminum cylinder block and heads. It has two camshafts with four valves per cylinder – two for both intake and exhaust valves. Fuel supply is provided through the multi-point fuel injection system.

SR20VEs have Nissan’s NEO VVL Variable Valve timing with Lift Control which is Nissan’s response to Honda’s VTEC technology.

These systems are nearly similar to each other as they use the same concept of multiple cam lobes to deliver low RPM cam, which is excellent for low torque and a high RPM cam for power.

Nissan’s difference, however, is its more consistent power band because the intake and exhaust cams are triggered independently.

There are two releases for SR20VE – the first one appeared in 1997, which appeared on Nissan Bluebird, Wingroad, and Primera; while the second-generation engines are made for Japanese Domestic Nissan Primera.

Nissan also released a turbocharged version of the SR20VE – SR20VET, which we will discuss here also.

Engine Specifications and Design:

  • Production Run: 1997 – 2007
  • Cylinder Block Material: Aluminum
  • Cylinder Head Material: Aluminum
  • Configuration: Straight-four
  • Bore: 86 mm
  • Stroke: 86 mm
  • Valvetrain: Chain-driven DOHC with four valves per cylinder
  • Displacement: 2.0 L (1998 cc)
  • Compression Ratio: 9.0 and 11.0
  • Weight: 415 lbs.
  • Max HP: 316 HP at 6,400 RPM (Turbocharged)
  • Max Torque: 228 lb-ft at 3,200 RPM (Turbocharged)

The Nissan SR20VE has a square shape with an identical cylinder bore and piston stroke dimensions of 86 mm that balance adequate power and torque. Early SR20VE engines were rated at 187 HP at 7,000 RPM, 145 lb-ft of torque, and a 10.3 compression rating.

Succeeding machines, or the second generation SR20VE 20V installed in the JDM Primera, has more power and torque. It was rated at 201 HP at 7,200 RPM, 152 lb-ft of torque at 5,200 RPM, and an 11.1 compression rating.

The SR20VE 20V has a larger throttle body, new intake valves, valve springs, modified long length intake manifold, modified exhaust manifold, and more powerful pistons.

But the most powerful in the SR20VE line is the turbocharged version, which is also Nissan’s first engine with turbo, integrated with variable valve lift (VVL); it is used for SUV Nissan X-Trail GT. It is called SR20VET – T for turbocharged.

This engine was produced concurrently with the SR20VEs from 2001 until 2007 and is sold exclusively in the Japanese market.

The SR20VET is installed with a Garrett T28 turbocharger, 444 cc/min fuel injectors, 9.0 compression rating, and 8.7 psi maximal boost pressure that can reach 316 HP at 6,400 RPM, 228 lb-ft torque, and 9.0 compression rating.

SR20VE has an Aluminum cylinder block that contains dry-cast iron sleeves and, on top, a chain-driven Aluminum cylinder head that consists of two camshafts with four valves per cylinder.

It has closed-deck cylinder liners that have an under-piston oil squirter to regulate optimal piston temperature.

The engine crankpin diameter is 48 mm, crankshaft journal diameter is 55 mm, and the connecting rods are the same as the SR20DEs at 136.3 mm. It has a pentroof-type combustion chamber that centers the spark plugs for more compact and efficient fuel combustion.

Some applications of the SR20VE Engine:

  • 1997 – 200 P11 JDM Nissan Primera Te-V sedan or G-V wagon, 187 HP
  • 1997 – 2000 U14 JDM Nissan Bluebord SSS-Z sedan, 187 HP
  • 1997 – 2000 Y11 JDM Nissan Wingroad ZV-S wagon, 187 HP
  • 2001 – 2003 P12 Nissan Primera, 20V sedan or W20V Wagon, 201 HP

SR20VET’s only application is the 2001 – 2007 PNT30 Nissan X-Trail GT.

Engine Tuning, Upgrades, and Modifications

Nissan SR20DEs are great platforms for tuning and upgrades, and we all know that. Due to their aftermarket support, tuning potential, and shops that are willing to take it in. The same goes with the SR20VE engines.

Though it is sometimes confusing if we can do a hybrid build or stay within the confinements of SR20VE components, increasing the power or torque is easy.

You can modify your SR20VE by buying an exhaust like HKS, Greddy, and cold air intake like the Hotshot, AEM, or Place Racing. But the SR20VE is a low port machine, and you will need an intake for a low port or any B14 SR20 vehicle.

DE headers are not good either because they will choke the VE due to the overlap on the exhaust ports. However, aftermarket companies develop a header specific for SR20VEs, especially in Japan – Fujitsubo and Impul.

You can consider other options if you still don’t have the headers available for your SR20VE. You can install an SR16VE cam in the SR20VE to increase at least 12 HP at 7,800 RPM.

But if you still want more power for the SR20VE, specifically the SR20VET, you will need to change your turbocharger to Garrett GT2871R, JWT S3 camshafts, ARP studs, new head gaskets, and 850 cc/min fuel injectors.

These upgrades and replacements can give you at least 420 HP with the stock internals. However, this might call for a reliability and longevity problem as these internal components cannot withstand such power.

Reduce running the risk and buy new H-beam rods and forged pistons that result in stronger internals and broaden your horsepower gains up to 440 HP.

On top of all those, 500 HP is not challenging to attain now. And I know you want to know how, and it is achievable, so don’t worry. It would be best to upgrade if you had a Garrett GTX3076R turbocharger, 272/272 camshafts, 1000 cc/min fuel injectors, larger valves, and do some head porting.

To reduce the turbo lag, which is the issue most of the time, buy either a 2.1 L, 2.2 L, or 2.3 L stroker kit, and you are good to go.

Problems Surrounding SR20VE Engine

SR engines are the least we should worry about in terms of problems and issues in the engine. They are durable, highly reliable, and widely respected, which results in far fore superior reputation. They do not pose any significant issues, especially with their design.

It might sometimes experience idle air control valves and inconsistent fuel combustion issues that result in rough idling, mainly due to poor oil quality. There is trouble in the mass airflow sensor or MAF sensor and ticking noise.

Ticking noise is mainly valve clearance adjustments, and it is necessary to regulate them.

Additionally, SR20VE and SR20VET are running via a single timing chain that lasts at approximately 150,000 miles. You will need high-quality engine oil and proper maintenance to prolong the service life of this engine, just like any other engine.


Nissan’s first NEO VVL integrated engine has a lot to offer. Inspired from the framework created initially for the SR20DE engines, it still makes its impression among the industry and marks a profile that will continue to reign over the years.

It is highly reliable and robust for a straight-four but comfortable enough to the production it gives, and just the right amount of excitement of what’s to come to keep you engaged while driving.

Its lightweight design, rigid liners, power and torque balance, strong internals, advanced technologies define the engine’s commitment to take risks in the name of innovation and supremacy.

Though it has some issues and troubles, SR20VEs are still solid engines capable of providing long service life that satisfies the owner.

I hope that this simple discussion helped you understand SR20VE’s engine design, applications, specifications, issues, troubles, tuning potential, aftermarket support, reliability, and overall impact on the automotive industry and community.

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