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OM46401 National Express Caetano Levante Coach

        Finally after a ten month delay Corgi have released the first issue of their much anticipated new modern coach casting. Following the success of the Scania Irzair PB Corgi chose to model the Caetano Levante coach, this striking vehicle was introduced in 2005 following a design brief set out by National Express for a new coach that had a wow factor and offered easy access that fully met schedule 1 of the Disability Discrimination Act.

The Levante was for a time only available to operators who had contracts to run National Express services however the vehicle's exclusivity has now ended and the coaches are starting to enter service with a much wider range of operators.

Plaxton Panther Coach nearside
Plaxton Panther Coach base
Plaxton Panther Coach offside
Plaxton Panther Coach roof
Plaxton Panther Coach front Plaxton Panther Coach rear

        The first release of the Levante model comes in perhaps not surprisingly the current National Express livery. The company's clean predominately white livery suits the model well and shows off that important wow factor. The vehicle modelled by Corgi carries destination displays on the front and nearside for a Wembley Stadium bound service W24 and is one of the vehicles delivered in 2009 (FJ59APF) to Hampshire based H Luckett & Co of Fareham..

The model is a mixture of diecast & plastic components which have been almost seamlessly combined to produce an outstanding finished product. The model has a substantial diecast lower half and most of the roof is also metal. Plastic is used for the rear engine cover and most of the front end. The rear roof section is also plastic and incorporates the stylish high level brake lights. All the plastic body panels are painted to match the diecast parts.

The joints around the luggage locker doors on the sides of the model are cast and are a little heavy compared to those found on the real thing. The cast vents on the nearside rear are recessed into the body on the model but on the real thing they are not.

The general level of detailing on the model is to a high standard, the lights on the front and rear are very finely detailed, the lower rear light clusters have each of the individual lenses picked out with tiny dots of paint. The orange side marker lights & indicators are all tampo printed and given their small size this doesn't really pose any problems.

The model features a plastic roof mounted air-con unit which has the fans & grille decals applied using black tampo printing.

Caetano Levante Coach nearside front
Caetano Levante Coach off-side rear

        The interior of the coach is less well finished and consists of a one piece floor & seating component. Despite containing a fair level of detail the allover grey finish gives it a rather bland appearance. There is one particularly nice touch however, a very delicate looking yellow grab rail is fitted to the nearside front dash panel. The model doesn't have any internal metal poles holding it together either.

Apart from the clear windscreen and forward must windows all the other glazing is slightly tinted. The window frames & upright pillars are all tampo printed onto the outside of the flush glazing and thus give a good representation of the bonded glazing used on the Levante.

Caetano Levante front nearside close up
The otherwise bland looking grey interior does include this delicate yellow grab rail

The livery application is very crisp and all the small insignia such as Levante and Caetano &badges on the front panel are fully legible.
On the model photographed the blue and red parts of the "national express" fleet name on the front of the model are out of alignment, this problem also to a lesser degree affects the large nearside fleet name.
The rear engine cover which is a separate plastic part doesn't sit completely flush with the surrounding bodywork on the sample model and seems slightly oversized for the area it covers.

The small nearside destination display is tampo printed onto the body panels but the front and rear displays are printed on panels set behind the glazing, all have orange dot matrix style displays that look authentic.
The large driving mirrors which seem to be a feature of so many modern coaches are neatly executed and have the mirrored areas picked out with silver paint. The now standard OOC etched windscreen wipers are present although Phillip informs he had to refit the off-side one which wasn't sitting flush against the glazing when he received the model.

Caetano Levante front close up
Caetano Levante front nearside close up
The front of the model is mainly plastic but the join
with the main die-cast body section is neatly done.

Caetano Levante offside front
The join between the plastic and die-cast parts is slightly more visible on the off-side.

Caetano Levante nearside rear
Caetano Levante offside rear
The engine cover which is plastic seems a little oversized and doesn't quite fit flush on the sample model.

        Overall it's looks like Corgi have made a good job of capturing the unique shape of the Levante's eye catching body styling. The Levante is still a fairly rare beast and it remains to be seen whether Corgi can find a good array of popular livery options for future releases.
The next issue of the model will feature an East Yorkshire Coaches example and this will be follows by a second version of FJ59 APF in the special National Express livery used to promote Armed Forces Day.

Fans of modern coaches shouldn't be disappointed by the Corgi's latest addition to the OOC range and although I'm not a great fan of the real vehicle myself the model is certainly growing on me!

OM46401 National Express Caetano Levante Coach

Captures the vehicles design well
Good fine detailing
Combines plastic & die-cast parts well
Crisp livery application

Some minor finishing issues
Bland one colour interior

Overall 9/10
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