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Saturday, May 14, 2016

Comparison: Matchbox 2016 Exotics 5-pack

About a few years ago Matchbox released an Exotic 5-pack that I compared here and I'm still impressed with it even years later.  One classic with a bunch of modern cars that are nicely done, some with lighting details front and rear and all cars were nicely done.  How can Matchbox top that?  With this 2016 5-pack of exotics.  This time all of the cars are modern exotics, with one returning again for an encore: the Corvette ZR-1 now all-blacked out with the new 5-spoke wheels and nifty graphics.  The Lotus name returns, but this time the larger Evora is here with a tribute to Lotus racing.  Ford drops two bombshells in the form of classic Ford Racing names: the 2005 GT and the Shelby Cobra Concept from 2004.  Finally, Porsche makes an entrance with the 911 Turbo that may seem like a repaint of a prior 5-pack release, but it is not and it looks good here.  Time to find out who's the best in this next round of Matchbox Exotics.

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The Corvette ZR1 is even more enticing this time around with the all-black paint with thicker window tint that conceals the separate plastic roof.  This while look also eliminates the thick beltline that is noticeable in a lighter color.  Also it adds detailed lighting and blacked-out 5-spoke wheels to enhance the look.  The Porsche 911 Turbo also has the sleek look with blacked-out 5-spoke wheels, but on a metallic red with a slight orange hue to it and like the Corvette has front and rear lighting details.  The Lotus Evora goes for a GT4-like appearance with dark green and Lotus badges on the doors, but without the front and rear lighting details the rest of the car seems plain.  The two Fords do not fare well with more graphics and no lighting details.  The Ford GT tends to look more like the classic GT40 than the 2005 GT, and it seems like Matchbox got jealous of Hot Wheels doing the new 2017 GT that they made the 2005 GT look just like it in the same color.  The Shelby Cobra looks a lot better than the GT with better details in yellow and the 5-spoke wheels, but could do without the 5-spoke wheels.

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Each car has seating for two, and if there is one that has seating for four the rear seats are useless.  That is the case for the 911 Turbo, yet it has one of the best interiors of the bunch in tan with detailed dashboard and enough cargo space of the group.  The Corvette ZR1 also has the largest cargo area and a detailed interior, but the dashboard is dated compared to the new Corvette Stingray's dashboard.  The Evora also offers seating for four, but the rear seats again are useless except for cargo, which it needs more than the 911.  The interior is much more easy to live with than the Exige from the last 5-pack, yet it is still crude and not so user-friendly.  The Ford GT has doors that open even with the roof and has a nice race car-inspired dashboard, but lacks the finesse and details of the Corvette and 911.  The Shelby Cobra is the only convertible of the group and does it well with dual headrests and 5-point harness for each seat, along with a detailed dashboard.

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Unlike the last Exotic comparison, the engine range is not as widely spaced.  The Evora uses the smallest engine of the group: a 3.5L DOHC V6 that produces 276 hp and 258 Ib-ft of torque through a 6-speed manual.  The Porsche 911 Turbo uses a similar 6-cylinder, but as a flat motor with twin turbochargers to produce 420 hp. and 457 Ib-ft of torque through a 6-speed tiptronic automatic and the only all-wheel drive of the group.  The Corvette ZR1 still uses the supercharged 6.2L V8 that produces 638 hp. through a 6-speed manual.  The Ford GT uses a 5.4L DOHC supercharged V8 mounted mid-ship that produces 550 hp. and 500 Ib-ft. of torque through a 6-speed manual.  The Shelby Cobra Concept has a 6.4L V-10 produces 645 hp. and 501 Ib-ft of torque through a 6-speed manual.

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Acceleration and Braking

The 911 Turbo is super quick off the line, surprising for a small-engine car, but then again with twin turbos and all-wheel drive it's no surprise.  Even more surprising is the ZR1 with better acceleration and braking than the previous exotic car test.  The Evora might have the smallest motor in the group but at least it hangs on with the group.  The two Ford's were a disappointment: the GT hooked up better than the Shelby on acceleration, and the Shelby felt slower than what the motor suggests.  The GT had the worst braking of the bunch, and what would plague this car for the track test as well.

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The Ford GT is a long car so with fast speed and long braking it was tricky to get the car to handle just right.  The Shelby actually fared better in handling but still was not the best in the group.  The Evora loves to handle as it was pretty slick around the track despite having a bit more body roll.  The two to beat was the Corvette and Porsche as both carved the track with precision, but the lighter weight and all-wheel drive makes the Porsche overcome the Corvette with faster and sharper handing limits.  Also the Porsche would be the best one to drive on the long stretch of highway as well.

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The Porsche wins here for great details inside and out and excellent track performance.  The Corvette is not far behind with a better deco this year and even better handing than the last Exotics test.  The Evora has a nice racing look and handing, but seems rather plain from other ends.  The two fords have the worst performance of the group and the side graphics do not help either.

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All of these cars are likely out of our price range, but in ranking the Evora would be the cheapest of the group.  The 911 Turbo would be next, followed by the Corvette ZR-1, and the Ford GT.  Finally the Shelby Cobra if it was in production would be second-cheapest behind the Evora, but since this was based on a one-off concept it's price tag is likely higher than even the Ford GT.

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I must say this 5-pack was not as good as the last Matchbox exotics 5-pack, so the winners were more clearer this time around.  5th place goes to the Shelby Cobra Concept: It's a unique, fun sports car and the only convertible in the group, but in reality it's not as fun as I thought it would be.  4th place is the 2005 Ford GT: Could use a better deco and improved braking to make this a worthy contender.  3rd place goes to the Lotus Evora: This Lotus has soften over the Exige in the last pack, but at least it still has the handling.  Could use more lighting details and a bit of sportiness to the exterior.  2nd place goes to the Corvette ZR-1: A much bigger improvement over the last Exotic 5-pack with sleeker looks and better performance, only shortfall is drive wheels and interior over the winner.  The 1st place winner is the Porsche 911 Turbo: Despite its age and small engine it has the power, the handling, and the interior to be an all-around sports car, and one of the best-looking cars of this 5-pack.

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