Turbo Sleeper: 2009 Toyota Axio GT
A sleeper is a car that looks like an ordinary rabbit but is actually a psychotic carnivore inside.And few things are cooler in effect than the perfect sleeper. Question is, how is Toyota's most pedestrian 'daal-bhaat' car a cool sleeper?
The Axio is the Japanese market version of the Corolla that Bangladesh loves so much. In stock form it is a pretty decent car. The 1.5 provides ample forward movement courtesy of roughly 110bhp coupled with a fuel efficient CVT transmission. The car looks smart without really standing out from the crowd, Ia car the designers penned by playing it safe. How's the Axio GT any different?
First clue: Turbo. Everything sounds better with the word 'Turbo' attached somewhere. Cars, planes, shoes, computers, even a washing machine would probably sound a lot cooler. The Axio GT we tested here comes with the TRD enhanced bits and pieces to make it faster, sharper and slightly more macho stanced. Although we've seen TRD badges on everything from Hondas and Mitsubishis to Chinese motorcycles, it is strictly Toyota's racing division. And what they learn on the track, they sometimes put in their cars for us mere mortals to enjoy.
The first ting to notice is that the car sits pretty low on the TRD Sportivo suspension. The appearance is subtly tweaked by the jutting lip spoiler and sideskirts, which lower the car further visually. Inside you're faced with a similar layout as the regular Axio, but the differences include an inviting tachometer and a lovely leather stitchedgear knob that asks you to row,row, row. Five speeds, mind you.
The most significant mechanical bit is that turbocharger and intercooler setup providing an ample 148bhp for this lightweight car. That's nearly a 35 percent increase in power. It also develops 145lb/ft of torque over the stock Axios 100lb/ft. Those are great numbers on paper compared to the base Axio. Are they as good on road?
Right away this car feels a lot different. It feels firmer over small bumps and the ride is quiet despite the huge 17 inch wheels. The manual gearbox is a joy to operate. Toyota played it safe. Theydid provide a beefier clutch cover to tolerate the higher forces but they didn't make it uncomfortably stiff. You can really drive this car all day in traffic and not feel tired. For those wussies complaining about shifting manuals, enroll in leg day exercises at a gym. Or just walk a little.
The joy of pressing that throttle is indescribable. But I'll try anyway. The turbo spools the moment you floor it. Boost comes on at low RPMs. Each time I pressed the accelerator, the car responded right away. And each time, I needed to press it a little harder. See, the car is light, and there's a mechanical LSD to reign in that torque and improve traction so you keep heading in the direction you're intended.
This is not your typical fire breathing monster. Far from it. This is the ultimate sleeper. The car turns sharp, it desperately scrabbles its wheels to show you urgency with which it can pull and it takes bumps a little harder but it's all composed on the inside. It's a light sportscar for the family. The one downside is that it doesn't come with disc brakes in the rear. Visually that's a bit of a downer. Fast cars always look better with disc brakes glinting from behind wheel spokes. Toyota fitted bigger, grippier brake shoes. And guess what? Those drums provided ample and reassuring braking power. It stops where and how you want it. It works and adds to the whole sleeper effect.
You can take this car to office, go grocery shopping and at the same time you can dust quite a few bigger engined cars out there. It's proper fast for what it is. It's like having a wife and a mistress in one package. And the best part is it's only about 4 lakhs more than the stock counterpart. You can't get this amount of kit, performance and reliability with that money. It's worth the price.
This car is on sale for a little under 23 lakhs at JZ Automobiles in HOUSE # 38, ROAD # 9/A, Dhanmondi.
2009 Toyota Axio GT
Engine: 1.5 liter 4 cylinder turbocharged, intercooled 1-NZFEpetrol engine.
Gearbox: 5 speed manual with uprated clutch cover.
Numbers: 148 HP, 145 lb-ft of torque.
Brakes: Disc brakes at the front, large drums at the rear.
Wheels and tires: 215/40 R-17 tires, 17TF4wheels.
Price (at the time of writing this article): 23 lakh Taka.