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Saturday, December 26, 2015

Comparison: Hot Wheels 2015 Exotic Rides 5-pack

This one took a while to finally post as I did this comparo, along with the Big 3 Heavy Duty trucks a few months ago, but after some delays that included lots of schoolwork the comparo is finally here.  Avid readers will remember the popular Matchbox exotic 5-pack comparison from last year or the Hot Wheels Ferrari 5-pack that was done earlier this year from the 2014 line.  This year Hot Wheels filled in the missing Ferrari gap with one sharp 5-pack of exotic cars; truth be told Hot Wheels has been doing an exotic car 5-pack each year for the past few years.  However, most of the 5-packs were a bit lukewarm with so-so models and not-so-great colors, depending on your point of view.  For 2015 all of the stops were pulled out with the Pagani Huayra headlining the 5-pack in an awesome deco.  Also joining the list is the Alfa 8C in orange, the return of the Lotus Esprit V8 with a retooled metal rear spoiler, the always awesome Porsche 911 GT2, and another lessly-impressive but cool nonetheless Lamborghini Aventador J concept.  So it's time to break out the test categories and find out which one is the best.

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The best car of this 5-pack is the Pagani Huayra in white with black graphics and blacked-out 10-spoke wheels (at last!) to give this car a menacing look.  The details like the quad front headlights, taillight cover, split roof windows on top, and the rear central exhaust tips remain.  While this is much better than the 2014 version it still suffers from poor detail execution from the lack of mirrors (it is pretty understandable given the smallness of the mirror post and the scale of the car that the mirrors would not make it past the mold stage) to the lower bumper that is recessed too far back.  The Alfa 8C still looks great in metallic orange with a black stripe on the hood.  The front headlights and grille trim details still remain, as does the small size and stretched wheelbase.  The wheels could be fully blacked-out like the Huayra, kind of like what I did with a sharpie over the chrome outer rim.  The Porsche 911 GT2 is still amazing with the sleek lines, small shape, rear spoiler that is still a separate piece, and the headlights that are part of the windows.  It joins with a green color that is debatable, but goes great with the blacked-out hood and gold 5-spoke wheels.  Would Mattel either fix it or kill the smearing rear taillight tampo!  The Lotus Esprit is the V8 supercar from the 1990's and not the original 4-cylinder wedge shape from the 1970's like the 2015 new model.  It wears black paint with the return of the gold BBS wheels and yellow stripes, and the detail work is great as the car gives more emphasis on aggressiveness with a large front air dam and a rear spoiler that is now part of the metal body,  Also note the V8 logo on the rear valence panel.  The Lamborghini Aventador J is the least impressive, remember this was a one-color concept car, with blue and white stripes, white PR5 wheels that look out-of-place, and a molded rear spoiler and higher stance that does not look correct to the real car.  It has the cool double cockpit look with a central console that is part of the metal body and an exposed engine bay area.  The Pagani Huayra looks impressive, but the Porsche 911 GT2 is the real winner here.

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All feature a two-seater layout, including the 911 that has the rear seats removed.  The 911 has a nice layout that is the same for all Porsche's and can add more weight savings with the radio and AC removed.  The trunk, though small, at the front is the roomiest of the bunch.  The Lamborghini forgoes any radio or AC, nor a roof so if it rains you're out of luck!  It seems like the dashboard is much closer to the floor and the seats farther back in the Lambo.  The Alfa 8C has some confusion issues: It has the correct sparse-but-sporty layout like the 4C, but why does the production 8C which has a 6-speed automated manual have the 6-speed manual shifter from the 2003 8C concept car?  The Pagani has a stylish interior with all the right details though Hot Wheels could do a little more on the dash details (anymore and you'll need a larger scale to enjoy the artwork of the Huayra).  The Lotus Esprit is the only right-hand drive car in the group and the dash layout has matured much and is easy-to-use; still looks great today.  The radio and HVAC controls now move from the gauges in the S1 to the center just above the shifter, and the seats still look posh.  Here, the Lotus excels.

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This group has a diverse line of cylinders with only three offering turbocharging and two offering true 3-pedal manual transmissions.  The Porsche uses the smallest engine, a 3.6L twin turbo flat-6 that produces 523 hp and 505 Ib-ft. of torque through a six-speed manual.  The Alfa 8C uses a 4.7L DOHC V8, designed by Ferrari, that produces 450 hp. and 354 Ib-ft. of torque through a six-speed semi-automated manual transmission.  The Lotus Esprit wears the first V8 in the Esprit line: a 3.5L twin-turbo DOHC V8 that produces 350 hp. through a 6-speed manual transmission.  The Lamborghini Aventador J uses the same 6.5L DOHC V12 that is used in other Aventador models that produces 690 hp and 426 Ib-ft. of torque through a 7-speed automated manual and with the group's only all-wheel drive system.  The Pagani pulls out all the stops with the 6.0L DOHC twin-turbo V12 from Mercedes AMG division that produces 720 hp and 811 Ib-ft. of torque through a 7-speed sequential manual transmission.  With that much juice the Huayra is the winner here.

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Acceleration and Braking

The Pagani hauls like the numbers suggest with a fast 0-60 run, even eclipsing the second-fastest Aventador J with all-wheel drive.  The Lotus was a surprise as it still feels powerful despite its age, taking advantage of the last-place Alfa.  The Porsche was a sweet surprise:  the light weight and rear-biased power sends this car past all the others and just about even with the V-12 powered Huayra!  Braking also had some surprises: The Porsche again wins with the shortest stopping distance, with the Lotus again making a surprising comeback with the second-best stopping distance.  The Alfa is mid-pack as the two most powerful cars of the bunch were in the back: the Aventador was better at stopping with good grip even though it carries more speed, but the Pagani, thanks to its back-sloped front bumper, lacks any front-end bite during braking causing the Huayra to post the longest and unusual stopping distance of the bunch; This was a similar problem that I experienced in an earlier test with the Hot Wheels Huayra in 2014.

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Ah, yes the place where these cars shine is the road course more than the urban city sprawl.  The Aventador should take the advantage here with more power and all-wheel drive, but this is not a Gallardo or Huracan: this is a large car so care is taken into precaution when carving the corners.  The Huayra acts much better on the track than the Aventador with only two rear wheels getting power but that long braking distance again gives precaution when entering a corner on the straights to brake early.  The Alfa 8C should have the best handing of the bunch with the small dimensions and pushed out wheels to the corners, but it feels unrefined (no doubt thanks to the lack of a rivet post at the rear of the base) and not as swift as the others.  The Lotus Esprit, on the other hand, looks like it could suffer the same understeer issues like the Aventador, but it doesn't as it glides around corners as if it had a smaller wheelbase. Impressive indeed!  Then again you haven't seen the Porsche in action as the smaller size makes it the fun-to-toss car that I thought the Alfa would be, and not even the rear-biased weight and power would upset the car in turns as if the rear does swing out the car is easy to get back in line.  From that standpoint the Porsche is the killer on the track!

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The Huayra offers lots of nice details with more power, cool deco, and sharp interior details, but the execution of the Hot Wheels casting leaves more to desire.  The Aventador J has a neat open-top look with center backbone, but otherwise it's the same-old Aventador casting with some details that seem a bit off.  The Alfa 8C looks good on the exterior, but the interior is not the best and the performance is below par in this group.  The Lotus Esprit was the surprise of the group with performance that was better than expected and an exterior that still looks good today, but has nothing against the Porsche 911 that has great exterior design, comfortable interior, and the best performance results from the smallest engine in the group.  Aside from the taillight tampo this Porsche has little to nothing to brag about negatively.

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If you have these Hot Wheels castings mean you can't afford the real thing, and that is the case with all of them.  First off, the Pagani and Lamborghini are out of your reach as both can fetch close to and up past $1 million dollars.  The Alfa 8C is the next closest with a price tag that seems reasonable at close to $200,000, but the car is a very limited run so expect prices to go higher on the secondary market.  The Porsche and Lotus are your best bet as they are the bargains in the secondary market, with the Lotus edging out the Porsche with the cheapest price of the bunch, yet you are still in the six-figure price range!

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It was hard to pick a winner at first, but after the testing was done the placement for these five was pretty clear.  Fifth place is the Lamborghini Aventador J concept: it was the lame duck of the group with so-so styling (considering the last few Exotic 5-packs had the same Aventador and Reventon cars with the same styling), less praticle with the open roof, and performance was underwhelming despite the second-best power output.  Fourth place went to the Alfa 8C: It was a sharp-looking car in the metallic orange paint with the blacked-out wheels, but the performance results were not up to par with the tidy dimensions of the car, nor was the exterior or interior standouts of the group.  Third place goes to the Lotus Esprit V8: For such an old casting it still has the performance credentials and the looks, but it still feels behind the new competition and i'm not sure everyone will like the molded-in metal rear spoiler.  Second place goes to the Pagani Huayra: One of the best-looking deco's on this casting by far and it really covers the imperfections at the front bumper, and the most powerful engine of the group, but you still cannot hide the pushed-back front bumper that also results in longish stopping distances.  The first place winner of this comparo is the Porsche 911 GT2: Good looks, practical interior, strong performance dynamics, it has barely a fault on this casting and it looks good in green with gold 5-spoke wheels.  One of my favorite Hot Wheels Porsche 911 castings and it wins this 5-pack comparison test.

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