A weekend with the GR Yaris
If you're not already familiar with Toyota's semi latest concoction, the GR Yaris, a quick Google search will immediately fill you in about its importance in the world of cars.
Toyota has always been predominantly fixated on the world rally championship since the early noughties while their road car offerings dwindled both in numbers and appeal as the rise of the Prius race took over their factory floors. After a few unfruitful launches of some lukewarm Yaris here and there, they finally figured out the winning formula - a modern homologation special Yaris built as an excuse to go racing again. To sum it up, it's a really big deal, so much so that Akio Toyoda, the CEO of Toyota himself, was extensively involved in its development stages. Even collectors can't get enough of it, for this is probably the only Yaris one would find sitting beside a Porsche in some millionaire collector's garage.
Having the chance to go on a trip to Chittagong with a GR Yaris was something we couldn't miss. Day 1 consisted of catching a red-eye flight to Chittagong from Dhaka through one of US Bangla's countless noisy ATRs on rotation, which was thankfully on schedule. The Radisson Blu Chattogram Bay View, however, was not. Our personal chariot awaited us in the parking lot, and it was a sight for sore eyes. We took our sweet time checking the all-wheel-drive hoonicorn out and meeting its owner Raidur. We all unanimously agreed that pictures and videos on the internet never did the GR Yaris and its stance, stature and road presence any justice.
The very first lasting impressions were just how wide the fenders and the haunches of its tracks really were. And with a face like a Dementor, it's hauntingly beautiful all around; It sounds as angry as it looks. The tiny 1.6-litre three-cylinder definitely punches way above its weight, extracting just shy of 300 horsepower and 370 nm of torque through a wonderfully weighted and notch 6-speed manual. What surprised me most was the legroom in the rear and the fact that four average-sized individuals could comfortably sit inside.
Being a post-2020 car, the GR Yaris does suffer from the complicated OPF particulate filters because of emission regulations like all recent performance cars, which is why the car sounds so angry all the time from the inside, through the speakers, while the best way to describe how it sounds from the outside is to compare it to a vacuum. Although it does seem to tear through the air, leaving behind an empty vacuum in its trail; it goes like a distressed gecko abandoning its tail.
The FOUR in GR-FOUR makes sure it pulls like a freight train all the time. The Michelin Pilot Sport 4s are standard with the special wheels in Circuit Pack, and they mean business, offering a whole world of traction only possible with racing slicks. The GR Yaris still feels potent under maximum load, sticking to the road akin to super glue on the skin as we found out on the twisties around Kaptai the day after.
Day 2 contained an impromptu two-hour road trip to Kaptai Lake. With a full tank of petrol, we started for Kaptai, following the river Karnaphuli as we made our way to the outskirts of the city. Onto the two-lane highway, we finally encountered check-posts which meant we were getting nearer to the Kaptai Lake. The construction and conception of the Kaptai dam and valley are rooted in tragic ramifications, but the views were well worth it, for you would have to take my word for it since we left our cameras in the car amid concerns of heavy policing by the BGB in and around the lake. As golden hour was nearing its end, we stopped by the side of the road for what felt like our 400th photo op for the day.
Sombre melancholy and a sense of profound sadness were written on our faces on our last night in the port city. We woke up the following day, setting out for rolling shots of the UFO by the sea, on our way to the airport, back to boring old Dhaka, bidding adieu to a whirlwind of a weekend with Bangladesh's only GR Yaris.