A weekend with the GR Yaris

A weekend with the GR Yaris. Photo: Ahbaar Milky

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A weekend with the GR Yaris.

A weekend with the GR Yaris. Photo: Ahbaar Milky

If you’re not already familiar with Toyota’s latest concoction, the GR Yaris, a quick Google search will instantly explain its importance in the automotive world.

Toyota has always been predominantly fixated on the World Rally Championship since the early 1920s, while their street car offerings dwindled in both number and appeal as the rise of the Prius race took over their factories. After a few unsuccessful launches of a few tepid Yaris here and there, they finally figured out the winning formula: a modern homologation special Yaris built as an excuse to get back to racing. To sum it up, it’s really a big deal, so much so that Akio Toyoda, the CEO of Toyota himself, has been heavily involved in its development stages. Even collectors can’t get enough, because this is probably the only Yaris that would sit next to a Porsche in some millionaire collector’s garage.

Having the chance to take 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 via one of the countless rotating noisy US Bangla ATRs, which thankfully was on schedule. The Radisson Blu Chattogram Bay View, however, was not. Our personal wagon was waiting for us in the parking lot, and it was a sight to sore eyes. We took our sweet time to check out the all-wheel drive hoonicorn and meet its owner Raidur. We all unanimously agree that the images and videos on the Internet have never done justice to the GR Yaris and its location, stature and presence on the road.

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Lasting first impressions were just how wide the fenders and hips of its tracks were. And with a dementor face, it is obsessively beautiful all around; He looks as angry as he looks. The tiny 1.6-liter three-cylinder is way above its weight, extracting just under 300 horsepower and 370nm of torque through a beautifully weighted, notch 6-speed manual. What surprised me the most was the legroom in the back and the fact that four medium-sized people could sit comfortably inside.

Being a post-2020 car, the GR Yaris suffers from complicated OPF particulate filters due to emissions regulations like all recent high-performance cars, which is why the car always sounds so angry 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 cleaner. Even if it seems to tear the air, leaving an empty void behind it; it goes like a distressed gecko that drops its tail.

The FOUR in GR-FOUR makes sure that it always moves like a freight train. The Michelin Pilot Sport 4 comes standard with the special wheels in Circuit Pack, and means business, offering a whole world of traction only possible with racing slicks. The GR Yaris still feels powerful under maximum load, sticking to the road like super glue to the skin as we found out on the curves around Kaptai the next day.

Day 2 contained an impromptu two-hour trip to Kaptai Lake. With a full tank of petrol, we set off for Kaptai, following the Karnaphuli River as we made our way to the outskirts of the city. On the two-lane highway, we finally ran into checkpoints, which meant we were approaching Lake Kaptai. The construction and conception of the dam and the Kaptai valley are rooted in tragic ramifications, but it was worth it, why you should take my word for it as we left our cameras in the car amid concerns about heavy police from the BGB in and around the lake. As the golden hour was nearing its end, we stopped by the roadside for what felt like our 400th photo shoot of the day.

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A gloomy melancholy and a sense of deep sadness were written on our faces on our last night in the port city. We woke up the following day, leaving for UFO filming by the sea, on the way to the airport, returning to boring old Dhaka, saying goodbye to a whirlwind weekend with Bangladesh’s only GR Yaris.

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