The Axio’s sinister variant
However, the 2009 season was odd in ways more than one. Team APR, a Toyota outfit decided to retire their outgoing MRS, and then transplanted its organs into a corolla Axio (which we all know and love) and weaponise the humble econobox into a race car designed to tailgate the big guns (mostly the GTR, Soarer and the NSX).
Looking back at team APR taking inspiration from dr Frankenstein, this feat was perhaps not as daring as taking to the track with a cannibalized Toyota Prius for their 2012 Super GT season. Although the super GT Axio and the road running off the Aichi mill couldn't be any different. The firepower came from a 2GR-FSE V6 from the GT300 MRS strapped to the middle of the carbon fibre bodied race car. The final product shared only the headlights, grille and mirror with its mochi flavoured counterpart.
Toyota could have left the dim-witted, CVT drone riddled Axio alone then and there, but I like to think they cashed in on the race on Sundays, and sold a livelier corolla (loosely) based on the race car the next day; the Axio GT.
Kazi Tahzid, after having his fair share of owning a standard Axio, finally warmed up to its slightly sinister variant. I had the pleasure of photographing his pride and joy when he bought it two years back, and we've been friends ever since.
I also had the absolute pleasure of experiencing the firepower of a manual and turbocharged 1NZ, that too while hauling four persons. The sense of speed is just ridiculous in a car as ubiquitous as the Axio. And without further ado, here's a crash course on the wasabi infused Axio, by Tahzid.
There's a significant difference between both the variants. I owned both for a good amount of time to be able to tell the difference.
A standard Axio does a pretty great job at being a daily driven workhorse in Dhaka. It's comfortable and economical, and that is pretty much it. There's nothing more to crave from it. The performance of the 1NZFE with a CVT gearbox is just dull, an on-off switch pedal that doesn't do much other than making whiny noises going any faster than 60 kmph.
An Axio GT however, is a bit livelier; It is a genuine sleeper. It has a small turbo strapped to the 1NZ along with a 5-speed manual gearbox, larger front brake rotors and a few TRD goodies, making the car feel stiffer than standard, and it is due to this stiffness that the added performance just goes along with it much more nicely. The first 2 gears are a joy to row through. The turbo spools up really quick, allowing you to feel the torque.
I would personally say that this car is just perfect for Dhaka, and for anyone who wishes to daily drive a reliable turbo car with a manual gearbox. It doesn't have much power, but it has just enough for one to utilize it completely all the time instead of waiting for empty roads at night. It is fairly economical than most sports cars; You don't have to worry about things breaking down all the time, and all I had to do for the past 2 years in terms of maintenance is just the oil and filter change, except a bit more frequent than the standard naturally aspirated Axio's.