In an ideal world, every GT3 car races each other everywhere, for any amount of time, with anyone driving. This world, however, is not ideal, so the Cadillac ATS-V.R becomes an endemic beast, letting its challengers come to it, only to be mauled by Pratt & Miller’s might.
Also, in an ideal world, every GT3 car gets to be a tiny toy. This world, however, is not ideal, and so few become playable and collectable models. Fortunately, the ATS-V.R became a toy, and the world is all the better for it.
In this Inspection Room feature, I’ll be reviewing Hot Wheels’ Cadillac ATS-V.R GT3.
[Originally drafted 22 March 2018; re-shot 20 June 2020]
Did you know that this feature was supposed to be out two years ago? Unfortunately, extenuating circumstances forced me to put this review on the backburner. Thankfully, I was reinvigorated by the DriveTribe Creators’ Programme to finally finish shooting this feature, and maybe even change my opinion now that the casting is two years old.
All things considered, the ATS-V.R was, in fact, a beast in real life. In its debut in 2015, the car won overall, and in subsequent years it helped its drivers stay on the drivers’ championship podium, all the way to a total of 12 race wins in three years of competing.
Powered by the same motor as the road car, but looking like a car that went through intense training, the ATS-V.R is a mean machine to behold, especially in black. There is a sinister feel to it as if a monster was let loose in the streets of Long Beach, with wings that cut the air like a broadsword through mounted cavalry, pumped fenders that barely contain the regulation rubber and tyres, and a low, crouching stance; it’s a panther waiting to pounce.
And rather amazingly, though nowadays unsurprisingly, Hot Wheels’ design team has captured this essence in the toy version. The car looks smaller in the hand than initially appears, and yet despite the cloaking black paint, the body lines stretch out beyond the horizon, its wing rising almost impossibly high in the air. This particular part of the model is a miracle, as often most metal wing mounts don’t look too nice. Either they are too thick or too blocky, but with the mounts rising past the roof it can use less material, and so can be as slender as can be.
It doesn’t stop there. The metal wraps around the wheels and base like mimetic poly-alloy, taking its shape, filling every space. You see the intricacy of the mould even with the (slightly) thick black paint, which tends to hide detail in other castings. The plastic glass piece, too, is similarly-accomplished, with rivet dots and even the rare headlight integration, something few cars at this price point get to enjoy.
But what impressed me the most is its weight, or at least its perception. Technically the car only weighs about 35 grams, but carry it in your pocket and it pushes down to where your kneecaps are. Of course, this is by design — the casting has to withstand crash ‘n’ bash play, after all — but the Cadillac feels like pure cast iron. It’s mightily robust; the paint consistent and resistant to chipping (I dropped this a lot more than necessary during the shoot). No expense was spared in the making of this toy, and it showed.
There aren’t many flaws to point out except for the paint, which overpowers the livery, particularly in the rear quarter panel. But it’s a minor gripe, and forgotten when I consider everything else. The badge is dead-centre, the grille lined in chrome, and most importantly, is a unit integrated to the base. The wheels are correct. The interior is appointed almost exactly like the real thing.
What we see here is Hot Wheels learning from the mistakes of the past. After the rather bitter reception of the C7.R and Vantage GT3 three years prior, the new crop of GT racers have made massive leaps of progress, and along with the 2016 Ford GTE car, this is the culmination of that journey towards accuracy.
Hot Wheels’ ATS-V.R is an achievement for basic cars two years ago, and to this day, the first release holds its own against more premium releases of its kind. And thanks to its status as an underrated and oft-forgotten casting, it’s quite easy to find relatively cheap examples of its subsequent recolours...though none of them ever get to the same highs as this ever will.
But that matters not. If you have the black one, hold on to it. You own a rare gem, one that we may never see again unless the NSX GT3 and R8 LMS head to the mainline without significant changes.
+ near-perfect body casting
+ crisp livery printing
+ great choices in compromises
- paint dulls the livery
So ends this review. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it as much as I did writing and shooting for this piece. Sidenote: I should start trawling my drafts for more usable content.
Good night! Thanks for reading!