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Friday, July 1, 2016

Budget cars: Welly 1:43 2010 Kia Soul, 2005 Opel Astra GTC, and 2009 Toyota Corolla



What are dream cars are always cars that are out of our price range, in reality we end up with day-to-day commuter cars that really do not stir the soul.  This is why most diecast makers tend to avoid them, but in the reality of the diecast world a Ferrari is as common as a Toyota Camry, whereas a Kia Soul shown here is, well, as rarely seen as a real Ferrari!  So here's three compact cars from the past decade that varies in bodystyles and brands, yet all offer four cylinders, seating for five (almost for one), decent cargo space, and all offered by Welly in 1:43 scale.  True, none of them really excite our imaginations and all three look kind of homely for a model car, but then again can you find any of these 3 easily at a retail store near you?






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2009 Toyota Corolla

Ok, lets get the most boring car out of the way first, the 2009 Toyota Corolla.  Now this is not the first time a Corolla casting has been done: they're has been at least one or two replica's per generation, with the AE86 the most popular.  I have reviewed the Kinsmart 2003 version before, now comes the Welly version for 2009.  Unlike the previous-generation, this tenth-generation is really a carry-over with no big changes.  The styling goes for a more Camry-like look, but otherwise stays the same.  Same goes for the interior.  Underneath it uses the same front strut and rear twist beam axle suspension, but uses an updated 1.8L DOHC I-4 that produces 132 horsepower and 128 Ib-ft. of torque; the XRS's 2.0 and 2.4 has been phased out.  Transmissions are 5-speed manual (which the Kinsmart version has), or this Welly version's 4-speed automatic.  I've test driven this car as a rental vehicle and it just drags on power; not a fun car to drive!






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At least going for a red version looks a bit sportier despite the commuter car look.  My tester suffered from a few paint chip areas that I fixed with a few touch up spots, which of course the red paint I used somehow didn't match the red!  The front has smaller headlights with silver background, large black grille with Toyota logo, and lower bumper with scoops and ground effects.  The sides have a basic 4-door profile with chrome door handles, side marker lights with VVT-i badges, and 6-spoke aluminum wheels.  The rear has a slight trunklid spoiler, detailed taillights where I added the signal and reverse lamps, chrome trim, Corolla plate, reflector lights on the bumper, and a single exhaust tip.  The base shows off the front subframe with engine and transmission oil pans, while the rest of the car is mostly the exhaust system in which I detailed.  The interior shows seating for four with the rear pullback motor eating up rear seat space,   A nice treat is the smooth dashboard layout which really popped out when I added silver trim detailing.  It's simple, but effective, though the 4-spoke steering wheel was lifted from the Camry instead of the proper 3-spoke unit.  Not an XRS, no manual transmission, no excitement = boring.






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2005 Opel Astra GTC

The next car is a bit sportier with a 3-door hatchback layout and the only manual transmission of the group: the Opel Astra GTC, also known as the Saturn Astra XR in the U.S.  The Astra is the most popular compact car on sale in Europe: introduced as a replacement for the Kadett in 1991, and this third-generation model put style into the Astra that is still eminent in today's current Astra.  The headlights and taillights are large and flowing, and the front grille area does not change much from Opel to Saturn.  The interior looks rather cheap and flat in the U.S. versions, but Euro versions get more content and some better materials; did I mention the dashboard looks too close to a Chevy Cobalt?   The powertrain is the 1.8L DOHC Ecotec I-4 with variable valve timing that produces 123 hp and 125 Ib-ft of torque through a 5-speed manual transmission.  The Saturn version was introduced in 2008 to replace the ill-advised Ion line and served as a nice placeholder, but short-lived from delayed sales to deplete the extra Ion's still on the lot and then the 2009 GM bankruptcy restructuring that led to the demise of the Saturn brand.






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Welly made both Opel and Saturn versions of the Astra, though I doubt I have ever seen the Saturn version yet.  The silver 3-door looks sleek with flowing lines and 5-spoke wheels pushed to the corners.  Problem is this creates a rather long wheelbase effect on the sides.  The front has large headlights with detailed reflectors that are scrambled by the lens support tabs, center grille with chrome bar, and lower bumper with larger scoops and integrated foglights.  The rear has large taillights where I had to add the upper signal and reverse clear lamp area, Astra badges, and Astra plate.  The downside here is the rear pullback motor sits too low and is an eyesore at the rear.  The base shows off some details with the front engine cover to the exhaust system and front subframe that I highlighted with details.  The large doors open to an interior where the front seats have plenty of room, but the rear is tight and useless thanks to the rear pullback motor.  The dashboard layout looks dated, but after adding some silver trim accents it looks more appealing.  The 3-spoke wheel stands in front of dual pod gauges, the center stack has radio and HVAC controls with information housed in the upper display, and silver trim around the shift lever and on the three pedals.  There is no center armrest as the parking brake lever takes up most of the room.  While it may not be the most sporty car out there, at least its the sportiest of the bunch!







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2010 Kia Soul

One vehicle that has dumbfounded me was the Kia Soul: for a vehicle as popular as it is there's no sign of any replica's in the U.S.  Most of the replica's are either found in Europe or East Asia.  Also I notice most of them have a more high-end look rather than the sporty appeal of other Soul models.  Either way it gave Kia some eye candy and started a culture that was once occupied by the Scion xB/Toyota Bb and Nissan Cube that started to vanish by the time the Soul appeared.  Today the Soul is the only 5-door compact hatchback to adorn the boxy shape.  The showcar debut in 2008 with a design that was based on the idea of wild boars when a designer watched a documentary film about them.  In 2010 the Soul arrived as a 5-door hatchback, with wild colors, stereo system with lighted speakers and subwoofers, and of course dancing hamsters.  The chassis was shared with the Hyundai I20 and Kia Forte, and was powered by the 2.0L DOHC I-4 that produced 142 hp. through a 4-speed automatic transmission.  Frequent updates and a second-generation model helped the Soul improve criticized areas and continue to generate notice.






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I could've gone for a more sportier Soul, but all I could get was this higher-end trim model in Vanilla Shake color (looks nice).  It is the most interesting vehicle of this group to look at.  The front has detailed headlights with integrated signal lights (I added details to the latter), small grille opening with chrome trim, and a lower grille opening with Soul plate and foglights to the painted sides.  The car has not veered too much from the original concept and it shows where the sides have flared fenders, detailed door handles and trim, and the slanted roof with blacked-out pillars.  Also note the roof has a sunroof and roof rails that are separate components from the body.  The rear has a smaller window and large D-pillars with vertical taillights (I had to add details to the signal and reverse lamps), Kia plate on the hatch, lower Soul plate and reflector lights that I detailed, and at least the exhaust tip doesn't hide deep behind the rear bumper.







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The wheels are split 5-spoke design and without the black spoke inserts on some models it looks like a premium model.  the base shows off more details than the three as the engine and transaxle is visible at the front and clearly detailed, but otherwise it has the same subframe and exhaust layout as the other two have.  At least adding details adds more contrast as well.  The interior has seating for five in a spacious layout with plenty of room for cargo with the rear seat folded down, but once again the pullback motor takes up rear seat space.  The front seats have a V-shape pattern in the middle next to a center console with plenty of storage areas and the T-shaped automatic shifter.  The dashboard layout is angled rather oddly to the point that it can be hard to read the radio and clock displays, but at least I added details to make the radio, HVAC controls, and upper speaker stand out.  Note the red display area for the radio readout like on the actual Soul.  The 4-spoke steering wheel sits right in front of tri-pod gauges and the door panels are detailed.  Not as sporty as I see most Soul models on the street, but not that plain, either!


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