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Friday, May 13, 2016

Comparison: Hot Wheels 2016 Volkswagen 5-pack

Volkswagen's are all the rage nowadays, and has been that way ever since the reincarnation of the New Beetle in 1998 sparked Beetlemania and a need for diecast VW's, mostly air-cooled versions.  Now the newest replica's seem more like beating a dead horse than something new and different, yet still companies find different ways to reiterate the classic VW Beetle and Bus.  Hot Wheels has so many that they can now offer a Volkswagen 5-pack every so often.  The latest shows off most of Hot Wheels best works of Volkswagen over the past few years into one decent 5-pack.  The Custom VW Beetle is the wildest Beetle that Hot Wheels has ever produced and it's in this line with another update to come.  The Kool Kombi has it a core with collectors for its cute way of making the Bus look cool despite the tooned look.  The VW Type 181 might not see much time in the mainline nowadays thanks to cost-cutting, but the classic military VW still has the removable top.  The VW Golf GTI comes to this 5-pack to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Golf line.  The 2012 VW Beetle is the newest VW in this pack and offers a simpler approach to driving a VW.  Time to compare them and see which one is the best of the pack.

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Each car has a unique look to provide for this pack.  The Custom VW beetle does not look like a beetle, yet it looks cool and good in the light flat blue color.  Despite the rear hood not openable anymore you can still view the engine in the back with its whip exhaust tip.  The metal base still continues, but now a mid-cycle tooling change reverts to a plastic base, which also includes dual exhausts on the sides of the engine and the hole in the roof covered by a neat roof rack.  The Kool Kombi still looks good today despite the smaller size with large round lamps and VW logo at the front, while the rear has an opening rear hatch to show off the rear engine and the surfboards sticking out.  The Type 181 is a unique bird with ribbed bodywork that shows off the military heritage, while the rear removes the engine cover to show off the engine, while the top is removable and a cool feature on this vehicle despite the top lacking a rear window.  The Golf is the least appealing at first with its flared fenders, yet it still retains a stock look with detailed front and rear lighting and a nice clean pearl white color.  The red wheels are the only negative on this car.  Despite the stock look, the new Beetle is unimpressive with its flat-faced front and lack of details in the rear.  It does not look like the real car and not even the green can save it.

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All of these cars have interiors, with two of them only seating two.  The custom Beetle and Kool Kombi do with less interior space and spartan amenities.  The Type 181 has seating for four with a detailed dashboard, but the rear seat looks like a park bench draped in a bed sheet, and of course it's spartan.  The Gold and new Beetle have seating for four and well-appointed interiors, but the Golf has better headroom in the rear seats, better cargo area, and the dashboard details are more visible than the new Beetle.

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The air-cooled Type 181, custom VW Beetle, and Kool Kombi share the same air-cooled flat-4 engine that range from 20 to 70 horsepower and all through a 4-speed manual transmission.  The VW Beetle and Golf use modern turbocharged I-4 motors, a 2.0L that produces 197 hp. through a 6-speed manual.

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Acceleration and Braking

As usual the newer VW's would perform better than the older air-cooled counterparts.  The GTI was the best with quick acceleration and the best braking of the group.  The Beetle was quick as well, but felt less exciting than the GTI.  The Kool Kombi contributed to its smaller size for quicker acceleration and braking performance, while the custom VW Beetle used its low-slung look to make the most of its power and braking.  The Type 181 is the slowest and worst braking of the bunch despite the lowered stance; the oldest car of the bunch!

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Handing is the same with the GTI the best on the track with stable handing and slightly better on the road feel.  The new Beetle fared better on the road, but on the track it felt large and not as fun as it could be.  The custom Beetle shines on the track with similar stable handling, though go too hard on the corner and it will become a bit loose.  While the smaller size works well for the Kombi, it does not translate to a track machine as its tall body is more Smart car than sports car in the corners.  As usual the Type 181 is not best for the track, but it hangs in there thanks to its wide stance.

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The new Beetle was the last here as it presents nothing interesting or anything that stands out; it's a bore to look at.  The Kool Kombi has some very cool features and very stylish, just not a track toy.  The custom VW beetle also has a cool look and some interesting features, especially the new update, but I still find it hard to believe that this is a VW beetle and plus the cost-cutting tends to leave important features in the updates.  The Type 181 has the nice military look and an opening top that still remains, but it is the oldest-feeling car of the group.  The Golf GTI, while not the best GTI casting, still looks good with proper detailing and excellent performance characteristics.

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All of these are bargains, are you kidding me!  Even with its popularity you can still get a decent discount on classic, custom VW Beetles, Kombi's, and Type 181's, leaving the Golf GTI to be the most expensive and the new beetle the second-most.

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It was hard to pick a winner in this nice 5-pack, but after some testing and votes the verdict became clear.  5th place goes to the 2012 VW Beetle: it's nice to see a modern Beetle, but it lacks the proper details and is just the most boring car of the group.  4th place is the VW Type 181: The classic Thing still has the looks and the functioning top, but it feels the oldest car of the group: not to quick and not too advanced to make it to the top.  3rd place goes to the Kool Kombi:  I know, this is a too nice of a casting to be in third place, but better offerings with more interior and even more speed offer much more than what the Kool Kombi can offer.  2nd place goes to the Custom VW Beetle: it's fast, low, sleek, unique, and still looks cool even after three retools, but is rather sparse compared to the winner.  1st place winner is the VW Golf GTI: I don't even like this casting, especially with that wide stance, and the new VW Golf Mk7 GTI would be a better fit, but then again this GTI still works the magic in stock exterior details and deco, practical interior, and performance that is more align with more expensive sports cars than a bunch of ragtag VW's.  So your favorite may vary, but at least this 5-pack will look good in any diehard VW collector's collection.

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