The Toyota Corolla Axio is a good car. It's good in the same way a tomato is good for you. A tomato isn't offensive to look at, has the right kind of stuff that is good for health and everyone can have one. That's an Axio. Unfortunately, that doesn't make it exciting.
Then there appears these crazy people with madness glinting in their eyes. They have an idea that even a tomato can become an Italian dish lusted after by master chefs. One such person is Kazi Hamidur Rahman Russell. That's a man with a long name and a long list of car history. I met him ages ago studying biology as kids. Years later he turned up in a car forum, surprisingly not as a biologist of any kind. He's a banker and he loves cars. And he's had a series of projects turning tomatoes into delish-dishes.
So what did he do to an Axio? I'll let that spill over in his words later. As for what the Axio became? Let's start with what it was. As a base car it's nothing that'll set your loins on fire. The car had adequate power from a 1.5 mated to a fuel efficient CVT transmission. The original car had good ground clearance and soft, comfy suspension to carry four moderately wide people.
What it became is a proper sleeper. You look at it and you might think it is a slightly visually tweaked family sedan. Wrong. It's got a heart transplant that now provides tons of magical horses to gallop forward. 200 plus snorting galloping beasts. The 6-speed manual transmission means power is on demand. More redlining, more brap-brap exhaust snorts upon acceleration. We didn't do any 0-180 km/h timings. Not while writing this article anyway. But this thing surprises way too many other cars on the road when it pulls out ahead. THey look at it, they see it rolling past and they be hating. A little efficiency is lost but then, this car isn't really killing polar bears.
It rides a little hard cause of the stiffer suspension and the whole plethora of body tightening braces front and rear. It's also low. Was that necessary? Not a hundred percent but then a car also has to look right and riding a foot above ground isn't really cool. It makes it a little more of an emotional experience to drive. Every speed breaker is a threat, and you care how you pass that bump. But then it's also a more involving ride. You worry, you anticipate and you care. You Basically, the car is no longer a toaster or other such boring white home appliance.
And all that go isn't complete if you can't stop. The stock front brakes are good but it needed a full on disc conversion for the rear. This is the complete package and you can't go wrong with that. Modern car, modern safety features, plenty of power for such a light chassis and the complementary stopping power. This is how you turn an everyday tomato into something much more exciting: an Italian pizza, peppered with glazed tomatoes and delivered by Charlize Theron.
Our car-tastic chat with the owner:
Why an Axio?
Russell: Actually I didn't chose the Axio to put this engine in; rather, I chose this engine to put in my daily driven Axio i.e., my daily commuter.
3 most important things to look out for in a 2ZZ conversion:
1) Don't go for A/T. There's an ocean of difference in performance between an A/T and 6M/T 2zz.
2) Choose the right chassis. Best if NZE/NZT series vehicles. Though no one has put a 2zz in any AE/EE frame yet, I guess those would be fine as well.
3) If you choose a post 2006 series vehicle (NZE141/NZT260), it requires extensive re-wiring (extra conversion cost), and requires a dual ECU system (you need to use both your car's OEM ECU as well as the 2zz ECU).
Which part gave trouble/was difficult to source (if any)?
Russell: The conversion was seamless in my case because I started the swap after I had all the components at hand: engine, wiring, ECU, transmission, driveshaft, shift lever, all sensors, etc.
Estimated cost of braking upgrade:
Russell: I just changed the rear axle along with disc brakes (from a RunX RS180) which cost me BDT 25 thousand. I use OEM front discs and brake pads along with stainless steel braided brake lines and Motul Dot 5.1 brake fluid. Works perfectly fine for sporty driving, but 100% genuine brake pads is necessary.
Overall cost roughly (engine, transmission, suspension, brakes)?
Russell: Approx 400 thousand taka including complete engine swap, full installation and electrical re-wiring charge, K&N intake, Borla exhaust, TRD lowering springs, front-rear upper and lower Ultra Racing Strut bars, and miscellaneous aftermarket parts.
Would such a conversion fall more towards madness or easiness?
Russell: It's easy, if you have all required parts at hand, know what you are doing, and of course choose an expert for the conversion work.
Engine and transmission:
2ZZGE with 6 speed manual transmission, 200 bhp (174 whp- Dyno tested), Denso IK20 iridium plugs, Accel high performance ignition coils, TRD lightweight flywheel, TRD Sports Clutch disc and clutch cover, K&N high performance short ram air intake.
Suspension, wheels and tires:
TRD Sportivo lowering springs, Rear Torsion beam with stabilizer bar, 4 wheel disc brakes, Front and Rear upper Ultra Racing strut bars, front lower 3 point Ultra Racing bar, Wedsport 17" rims with 215/45 Yokohama S Drive Tires, Rays racing lug nuts.
Borla Pro XS 2.5" muffler, Vibrant performance bottle style resonator, 2.5" mandrel bent piping, DEI header wrap.
Pivot stepper motor RPM gauge with Shift Lamp, Greddy full auto timer, Wolo air horns, Philips Extreme vision headlight bulbs, Hella Optilux 3000k Fog lamp bulbs, Auto Meter oil pressure and oil temperature gauges, AEM wideband UEGO Air Fuel ratio gauge.
Pioneer AVH-P1450DVD head unit, JBL component speaker system, Kenwood Mono Class D Amp (400 RMS), Kenwood 12" subwoofer.