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Saturday, April 29, 2017

Comparison: Matchbox Land Rover set

Like Jeep Land Rover is a part of the Matchbox line and still is after all these years, but unlike Jeep the Land Rover is more true to Matchbox because both share roots from Great Britian, so it was fitting to see the new 6-truck set dedicated to Land Rover last year.  This set includes a wide range of trucks from urban-based SUV's to rough and tumble Defender's.  The Evoque was profiled here last year and continues here in the line with a much darker orange paint.  It joins alongside the first front-wheel drive Land Rover the Freelander in blue with a racing deco.  The Discovery continues to be an increasingly popular casting and here it goes for a police outfit in silver dedicated to Britian.  The other three are pure Defenders, with the new Ninety arriving with a tooling update that makes the roof all-metal now in a clean red with blacked-out wheels.  The Defender 110 arrives in green like its 2005 release, yet here it also gets a retool to a narrower body with part of the roof now plastic, along with black rims and black hood decal.  The SVX goes for the gut with a dark green paint with dark gray wheels that have a hint of green in them.  This is the only truck here that is completely topless and offers excellent details.  Time to see which one's the best.

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Exterior and Interior

The new Evoque looks good with the low-roof look and detailed front and rear headlights, yet it wears the same color as the first release not to mention the time it took Matchbox to finally release this casting!  The interior is the smallest of the bunch with tight rear seat space and barely enough cargo room.  The dashboard layout is nice and modern of the bunch.  The Freelander is a bit bloated, yet offers excellent detailing from the clear headlights up front to the separate spare tire with integrated third brake light in the rear.  There's a trailer hitch for towing as well.  Being the second open top vehicle of the group with the rear seats getting the most out of the sun, but the front seats do get removable clear panels.  The interior features seating for four with plenty of cargo room when rear seats are not in use.  The right-hand drive dash layout is very 1990's with rounded plastic surfaces.  Speaking of which check out the ribbed lower rocker panels.  The ninety is classic Land Rover with such an appropriate deco.  The boxy look is there and yes it still has a trailer hitch, but the roof is now all metal and that brush guard up front covers up some details.  The interior is very vintage with a spartan dash layout in right-hand drive, thinly padded seats, and room for four more in the rear despite the rivet post getting in the way.  For a 90 inch wheelbase it can haul six passengers!  Then the Defender 110 outshines it with seating for nine in a larger cabin that still has a spartan layout even with a few creature comforts added.  The exterior shows a lower stance with more off-road gear.  There is no brush guard but there is a bumper with foglights, detailed headlights, hood vents, a snorkel, running boards, roof lights, duffel bags and fuel tank on the roof, rear mudflaps, spare tire, and a ladder to get to the top.  This is the minivan of adventure!  The final Defender is the concept SVX that looks off-road ready with the largest tire size of the group.  The SVX forgoes a rear spare for an inside one despite only offering seating for two.  There is no top and the dashboard layout is basic yet very intuitive.  The exterior is cleaner with no gear and nice details even though it still shows off some maladies of being born in the Hero City-era of 2004 (what is that hole in the grille for?).

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Engine and Acceleration

The Evoque is powered by a fuel-efficient 2.2L DOHC turbodiesel I-4 producing 190 hp. through a 6-speed manual transmission (the taller shifter is noticeable inside to indicate the manual), while the Freelander uses a 1.8L DOHC I-4 producing and estimated 150 horsepower through a 5-speed manual transmission; both SUV's use a full-time all-wheel drive system with a locking differential for the rough stuff.  The Discovery uses a 4.0L pushrod V8 that produces an estimated 230 horsepower through a four-speed automatic and with a two-speed transfer case.  The Defender 90 and 100 despite their large size still use I-4 turbodiesel motors to propel these SUV's, ranging output from these 2.0L motors are between 80 and 120 horsepower.  The only transmission is a 5-speed manual and both get two-speed transfer case with three differential locks.  The SVX concept uses the same motor, transmission, and transfer case as the Defender's, but thanks to the aluminum body the amount of weight to move is minimal.  The Evoque was very quick off the line and the fastest of the group, as was the Freelander given both are lighter.  The Discovery was next fastest despite the brick aerodynamics, while the Defender ninety and 110 were slowest of the bunch.  The SVX is the quickest Defender thanks to a lighter weight and a taller stance with smooth rolling of the tires.

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Braking and Handling

These are not prime sports cars, so there's no surprise that almost all of the truck-based Land Rovers had longer stopping distances with plenty of nose dive.  In the handling course the Discovery looked tipsy-turny with its tall stance and boxy shape yet was well mannered through the corners.  The 110 was longer than the 90 yet was easier to maneuver thanks to the narrow width, while the 90 seemed a bit sloppy despite the wheelbase of (almost) a mini cooper.  The SVX benefits from wider tires to really excel at handling even though its width would make it troublesome in tight parking spaces.  The real stars here was the Freelander and Evoque:  Both are car-based platforms with lower stance that allowed these SUV's to handle like cars on the track, with the Evoque the most sports car-like of the bunch (and for any SUV's by Matchbox!).  Ditto the short stopping distances.  The Freelander was a bit unrefined compared to the Evoque (the working suspension has been long gone), yet still managed to catch up to the Evoque.  The downside is that both SUV's were not as practical off-road as the Discovery and Defenders were, with the Evoque having none of it while the SVX breaking no sweat in the rought stuff.

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Features and Price

The Defender's would be the cheapest to own thanks to the amount of models and longetivity of the model line.  The Freelander follows next as the most affordable Land Rover of the 1990's.  The Evoque is more premium yet still obtainable compared to the rest of the modern Range Rover line, while the Discovery can get pricey at times (both the real vehicle and this Matchbox model on the secondary market).  The SVX was a one-off show truck that never fully made production (there was a special-edition package offered on the Defender in 2008 that resembled the SVX), so it is the priciest of the bunch.  All of these trucks have lots of great features, but how they do it determines their rank.  The Evoque has lots of good stuff behind it despite not being great off-road or in the rear-seat/cargo area: stylish, sporty, and modern.  The Freelander is getting a bit old, yet still looks like a young, fun SUV that has lots of detail and off-road practicality.  The Defender 90 is a nice retool but still seems dated compared to the 110 that offers more room and more features.  The SVX is a very cool concept truck that looks a bit cartoonish from some angles, while the Discovery is a classic SUV that no one else has made in this scale yet lacks a few detail refinements in a few areas.

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Sixth place went to the Land Rover Ninety: it's a classic, original Land Rover SUV with a nice retool and paint job but seems old-fashioned and out of date even compared to the two other Defender relatives.  Fifth place went to the Land Rover Discovery: it's a one-of-a-kind SUV with nice interior details and plenty of ground clearance but lacks detail in a few areas and lots of body roll.  Fourth place goes to the Land Rover Defender 110: it's an SUV that packs lots of room for people, gear on the roof, and all-around versatility off-road let down by a smaller width and cost-cutting clear roof.  Third Place goes to the Land Rover SVX:  A more cool, modern, and very practical off-road Defender with plenty of excellent details let down by cartoonish details thanks to the old Hero City-era ways when it was created.  Second place went to the Range Rover Evoque: a modern, stylish, and sporty Land Rover that lost to the top spot because of the lack of practicality inside and off the road.  The First Place winner is the Land Rover Freelander: it too might be getting older yet it still looks great, has lots of good details, and is still practical off-road like a Land Rover should be.  This is a very awesome set for those who like the good old-fashion off-road SUV's from Britian.

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