Group B was undoubtedly the most wild era of loose surface motorsport the world has ever seen. Cars with performance capabilities that outperformed Formula One was a recipe for success. Group B at its height was so popular there were more people watching rallying than Formula One, although with the excitement came the danger. British Leyland had found success in the early years of rallying with their Triumph TR7 V8 although as the era of four-wheel drive dawned, they decided to enter the World Rally Championship once again. The car that was chosen was the pint-sized Austin Metro city car. Not much bigger than a mini, and packing 410 horsepower, large flares, and wings made the Metro 6R4 an unforgettable rally car.
It has taken many years, although finally rally fans prayers have been answered by Belkits with a double variant of the beloved Metro Group B machine. With Belkits prior high standard of tooling, the kit had a lot of promise. It comes in either the works Computervision livery, or the Prodrive-prepared Rothmans livery. Both are the same kit only with a different decal sheet and differing wheels. All parts for both liveries are contained in a standardised kitset. This one will showcase the works Computervision livery in the traditional white and blue.
Inside the kit you get excellent quality casting, and a pleasant surprise was a small photoetch sprue for brakes, and details, as well as a front window mask. The body comes packaged in its own cardboard box for protection to ensure zero damage can occur in any kind of transit, too. A nice little touch by Belkits.
Chassis, suspension, and engine
The Metro is different to many modern kits in the fact that it is a mid-engine setup, and that means no curbside kitset here. The 6R4 comes with a full engine in the rear and this makes for a superb model as it is very much on show at the end of the build. The suspension is a great setup simliar to many other kits with the struts being held in place by suspension arms all forming a solid setup that sits nice and flat. The cockpit sits on top of the chassis via a tub-style setup.
After the engine is painted in aluminium and black, there is a lot of room for fine detail brush painting to really bring the engine to life. The one odd thing about this kitset is the engine has to be squeezed into its hole in the chassis with everything attached. This proves tricky but patience and some careful jiggling will see it slot in nicely.
The engine is a very easy to assemble, and nicely-detailed recreation of the V6 24v aluminium powerplant the car had in 1986, and comes with plug leads to add detail. Later in the build additional detail gets added once the cockpit tub is installed over top of the base.
The suspension as seen fitted to the chassis and photo etch brakes added. The metal etch can be seen between the wheel spokes and makes for a great boost to the realism of the kitset.
Wheels & Tires
The Computervision edition of the 6R4 comes set on ice tires as per used high in the mountains of the Monte Carlo rally. In this instance I decided to change the look of the kit slightly and run the dry tarmac wheels that the car ran for the other half of the event. After obtaining some aftermarket KMP tarmac wheels the dry fitting began.
The standard issue kit wheel at the bottom and the new dry tarmac wheels above it, all painted and ready to go.
The cockpit in the Metro is a small one, barely big enough for driver and co-driver. The detail that comes standard is simply superb. Photoetch buckles, and all the hand tools that were used by the crew in the event of a tyre change, and a beautifully recreated dashboard and seats finish the cockpit of the Metro off perfectly.
The has options for the harness to be done via decal or photoetch and ribbon, great thinking by Belkits covering bases for all skill abilities and the final look being superb no matter which option is chosen.
The body, base and cockpit separately before assembly.
The body of the Metro is perfectly proportioned, aggressive, pumped, and very boxy in shape. The body has the side air dams, and front bumper cast seperately, yet they fit seamlessly onto the body upon final assembly. The windows also are a master stroke being mounted on the outside of the body which allow for super easy painting of the trim much like the modern Nunu kits.
The body was prepped for paint by laying down the base coat of Tamiya TS26 Pure White, then left for 5 days to cure fully. After the paint was cured, the final step of adding Tamiya TS44 Brilliant Blue to the top half of the body finished off the base of the Computervision livery.
In order to avoid any bleed on the crucial edges, I used Tamiya’s new white masking tape for curves which gave a perfect seal avoiding any bleed along the straight lines. The blue was applied in two coats for a vivid, dark color over the white.
The decals included in the kit were nothing short of superb. They are incredibly thin, yet very durable and respond well to decal solution. Apart from the tricky ‘Mobil’ decal on the fins of the front grille, everything else was a breeze. If only all other companies had the same quality of decal in their kits!
The front wing has blue rectangles supplied as decals rather than making you paint the middle portion, at first I was disappointed yet it was soon apparent that the blue hue on the decals and the paint was perfectly matched making this a great touch by Belkits. Not difference between decal and paint hue earns a big thumbs up from me.
The finished product
The plain paintjob before livery just screams 1986 yet once the Metro receives its livery it truly comes to life. Also having the added touch of the lightpod makes it looks all that more impressive.
As a rally fanatic this kitset ticks all my boxes. It is the only example of the MG Metro on the market, and it was a true pleasure to build up. The though that has gone into the design, and tooling is second to none. Photoetch, and window masks as standard are a great touch by Belkits and the careful matching of paint to decal hue just makes this a superb display piece. Also having the engine on full display in the back of the car is a really great touch only found in the Lancia S4 of the Group b era.
If you have been unsure whether to jump on one of these kits all I can say is do it before it is too late. This is a superb addition to any cabinet, and compliments the other Group B rally cars on offer perfectly.