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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

4C vs. 4C: Matchbox and Kinsmart Alfa Romeo 4C




Well, this has been a long time coming!  I was expecting the Matchbox version of the Alfa 4C to be released at the end of 2014, or in the first few months of 2015.  Meanwhile, in February I found the Kinsmart 1:38 Alfa 4C as a placeholder and to compare against the Matchbox version, when it arrives.  Now that both are here, let's take a look at two fantastic ways to enjoy the fabulous Alfa 4C.




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Even though it's the second Alfa Romeo to return to the US soil following the limited 8C Competitzone, the 4C is the first mass-produced Alfa Romeo to come to the US and also the first mass-produced, low priced car wearing a carbon fiber tub.  Sharing similar styling cues with the 8C, the 4C utilizes a mid-engine layout with a central cabin and some unique styling touches of its own.  The engine is a 1.7L DOHC turbo I-4 that produces 237 hp. and 260 Ib-ft of torque through a 6-speed twin-clutch automated manual transmission in a car weighing in at 2,194 Ib's.  The 4C uses independent suspension with double wishbone at the front and MacPherson struts at the rear, with steering that does not have any power assist.  Both cars have no details underneath thanks to the full undercarriage and the engine area details are visible under both rear windows, though the Kinsmart has silver on the engine cover and the Matchbox version requires a flashlight to view the outer engine details.






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Both look luscious in red, with the larger Kinsmart in bright red and the smaller Matchbox in a slightly-darker red.  The Matchbox version uses detailed headlights that look like the Euro version but with white and black pixels looks more closer to the US version.  It is joined by a front V-shaped grille with similar pixel outline and Alfa Romeo badge.  The hood has the V-swept grille line, with the smooth sides flowing to the raised rear fenders (with integrated scoops) and fabulous 5-spoke wheels.  The rear has the detailed taillights, Alfa Romeo plate, and dual exhaust below.  It looks stunning, but then again there are faults: no exterior mirrors, A-pillars are not blacked-out, and the roofline has a crude curve stamp.








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The Kinsmart version is based on the Euro version with separate black headlights with silver lens details, deep black grille's, and a more pronounced hoodlines.  The sides have rearview mirrors in which I added the silver reflector parts and more of the incomplete black base trim.  Also visible is the Euro side fender lamps and black rear fender scoop details, oh and those 5-dot wheels look fantastic and realistic!  Out back the details are the same as the Matchbox, though with separate taillight pieces that have a slight halo ring on the outside, reverse lamps in the rear bumper, vertical side fender marker lights at all four corners, and chrome exhaust tips.  The Kinsmart looks better, but it is bigger and the paint is not as rich as the Matchbox version (also comes in Black Gray, or White).  Also I noticed some tooling defects on some of these models so do beware of this issue with the Kinsmart model.




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Both have detailed interiors with the supportive front seats, but only the Kinsmart offers a more in-depth look with opening doors and separate door panels.  Both have the central parking brake and console buttons for the transmission, with the Kinsmart adding silver accents to the pedals, door handles, and passenger-side chrome strip on the dashboard.  The layout of the dashboard is simple and more race car than plush sports car.  The 2-spoke steering wheel is present on both, with the Matchbox getting thumbs up for a floating, detailed wheel instead of the newfound cylinder-from-the-base setup on most newer MB castings, and the angle dashboard with air vents and central touch screen.  The digital gauges are not visible, even on the Kinsmart version.  For their scale both are on par with the interior details.




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Now is it worth getting a 1:24 or 1:18 scale?  No, because the front trunk does not open on the actual car (requires special tools to do so), and you get only a few slight enhancements in detail for the interior, engine bay, brake calipers, and some steering action, but otherwise you'd get the same as the Kinsmart and Matchbox versions shown here.  Despite some of their flaws, both do a good job of showing off the sexy curves of the real 4C and showing what Alfa Romeo is all about: good looks and speed!

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