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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Porsche Cayman vs. Boxster: The Hot Wheels and Matchbox examples, including the new Matchbox 2014 Cayman




The Mattel brands of Hot Wheels and Matchbox do know at times to make decent castings, but then again there are times that they tend to fail at a few.  Case in point: The mid-engine Porsche's that include the Boxster and Cayman.  Only the Matchbox version of the Boxster released in 1999 was the best version of the bunch, after that things went downhill.  The Hot Wheels version of the Cayman was too small despite the fine details, then it got worse when they did the Boxster Spyder in 2012 with words I cannot say in a positive manner.  Can Matchbox overturn this bad run with the new 2014 Cayman?  Let's find out:





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Porsche Boxster

While Porsche has had success with the 911's over the years, they needed something else to provide something different and to fuel more money in the brand.  They decided to go back in time and in effect the 1993 Boxster spyder was born based on the 550 Spyder of the 1950's.  The car was put in production in 1997 with little to no differences and shared styling elements with the new 1999 911 Carerra as well.  The 2.5L DOHC flat-six sits just ahead of the rear axle and low in the body, so low that the only way to service the engine is with a lift as there is no access from the front and rear trunks (a novelty feature on the Boxster).  The engine 201 hp. through a six-speed manual in 1997.  The convertible top nicely stows behind the rollbars and forms a nice tonneau cover as well.  The Boxster was praised for its perfect handling over the tricky 911 (though that wasn't far behind, either).






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Matchbox introduced their casting in 1999 and it was one nicely-done car, even if it was a bit large.  The silver with red interior color was pretty common color in this casting; in fact it was carried-over in 2000 with little change!).  The front has L-shaped headlights and twin nostril bumper with Porsche badge on the hood.  The sides are clean save for the scoops to feed air to the engine and lacks exterior mirrors, while the rear has taillight details, including the center brake light, Boxster logo, and center exhaust tips.  The base has great details from the suspension to the engine in the middle and to the exhaust though the rear rivet does get in the way of the muffler.  The interior is just as great as the exterior with dual seats, shifter, 4-spoke steering wheel, nice dashboard layout, and even the gridded floor mats are even detailed!  Until 2001 the wheels are 5-spokes and the suspension works; in later versions the suspension is fixed and a change of wheels ranging from the awful flower pedal wheels to the lace wheels, as seen on this silver one with red interior that has more color flair and lacks taillight details.  The best one, however, is the blue one from the 2006 Superfast line in that gorgeous dark blue with full-width light details, 5-spoke wheels, and even the windshield has a painted frame.  It is apparent here that even though the working suspension is long gone the height from the clearance result to make the suspension work still remains and is one of the moot points of this casting.






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Since the boxster was so good, the second-generation didn't need much in the way of change even though the engine's have been upgraded several times over the years.  The final touch before the next redesign was the Boxster Spyder in 2010.  Again another callback to the 550 Spyder this one has no convertible top (more of a bikini top), weight-saving features such as trim pieces, crank windows, pull straps for door handles, radio and A/C optional, and even the PDK automated manual is option.  This results in a track-ready car that is very quick with a 3.6L DOHC flat-six that produces 320 hp. and 273 Ib-ft of torque through a six-speed manual.  A firm suspension turning also helps out on the track as well.   It's so basic that it's one of my favorite Boxster's of all time, so I was hyped when Hot Wheels was bringing one out in 2012.  The end result was less-than-stellar look.




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The first color was white, though the one you see here is the improved dark blue with tan interior from the Porsche series with the appropriate 10-spoke wheels in gold over the Y-5 wheels that are too small for this casting.  The ride height is right, but the front-end is too tall with large scoops that could use more finer detailing or black highlights to get the correct look and the headlights look too far high-up than usual (if you look close you can see the signal lights inside the scoop area.  The sides are another problem where the lower side sills do not wrap around the undercarriage and just end flat straight.  Also the rear end squats down more than the front.  Thankfully the rear has some correct looks with the new trunk cover, rear spoiler, taillights, and central exhaust tips.  The interior has the correct touches with the new dashboard eliminating the central pod of the previous-generation with a smoother flush interface and round air vent knobs and 3-spoke steering wheel, gauges now down to three round units, and supportive front seats.  There are some base detailing but otherwise is sparse.  The new Porsche Series version greatly improves this car over the 2012 release, but still the damage has been done and not even a better paint job or wheels can improve the ill-fated bodywork.




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Porsche Cayman

For years there has been a rumor that the Boxster was going to also be offered as a coupe.  Well, it happened even though it occurred after the second-generation Boxster was released in 2006.  Porsche was also worried about this new Cayman eating into the sales of the 911 so the 3.4L DOHC flat six was downrated to 291 hp and 251 Ib-ft. of torque though a six-speed manual.  The visual changes include larger front bumper scoops, new taillights, and a fastback roofline with a larger rear cargo area.  Yes, it still shares similar styling with the Boxster and the same dual trunk and hidden engine as well.  For 2014 the second-generation Cayman is based on the third-generation Boxster with more swoopier styling, improved interior, and more power with the 3.4L now producing 325 hp. and 273 Ib-ft, of torque through a six-speed manual or the seven-speed PDK auto.  Still below the 911, but the new GT4 Cayman has finally past the envelope past the 911's restricted horsepower range.





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Hot Wheels released the first Cayman in 2007, and while it looks good again it has faults.  The first and biggest one is that it's too small: it's rather narrow (in fact, the wheels tend stick out past the bodywork) and lacks exterior mirrors.  The execution, however, is better than the Boxster Spyder with great silver and orange metallic colors, detailed front and rear lights, front lower scoops, side scoops, fastback roofline, rear spoiler, dual tipped central exhaust, and cool 5-spoke wheels to enhance the look.  The interior has the same two-seat and dashboard layout as the Boxster with a tad bit less detail and a lower dashboard height, though Hot Wheels did a nice touch with the cargo net in the rear.  Nice, but again it's a bit small.






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New for 2015 is the Matchbox version of the 2014 Cayman.  So far, it looks good and attractive in yellow with detailed front headlights, taillights with the integrated spoiler that blends into the taillights, and a large size that matches the 1998 Boxster that Matchbox previously had.  Maybe a bit too tall: the beltline is too tall and the front-end is too high as well, which also leads to some sloppy detail work around the front bumper despite Matchbox doing an excellent job of integrating the foglights on the body and not deep into the grille slots.  Other nice detail touches include exterior mirrors, central exhaust tips, and the same dark gray 5-spokes that are also found on the new BMW M5 Police.  The interior has a new console that rides high, like the Panamera, a central touch screen, and a digital gauge alongside the analog units in the gauges; otherwise the interior looks the same as the previous-generation.  The interior pan sits rather low than it should be and lacks door panel details.  The rear cargo area is redesign where the cargo net is gone and the well is now much deeper.  The engine fluid access ports are now relocated to circular units at the end that connect to a chrome strip to resemble a rear strut brace.  The base has nice, deep detailing of the engine, suspension, and even the cooling hoses in the center, while the rear muffler like the Boxster gets interrupted by the rear rivet.


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The new Cayman is, unfortunately, not the perfect miracle fix for the maligned mid-engine Porsche line at Mattel, but it does harken back to the Matchbox 1998 Boxster with the same size, level of details, and sharpness despite a few minor flaws.  Hot Wheels, on the other hand, needs to really step it up if they want to to a good job on the next Boxster/Cayman!

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