LEGO Technic 42171 Mercedes-AMG F1 W14 E Performance – A winning replica? [Review]

Almost exactly two years ago to the day, I wrote a review of the orange and blue LEGO Technic 42141 McLaren Formula 1 Race Car. Recently, I looked back to find that I had been fairly critical of the model, considering it overpriced and underwhelming at the time. However, I had little recollection of that, feeling maybe I was too harsh, and it made me all the more intrigued as to how I’d feel about the new LEGO Technic 42171 Mercedes-AMG F1 W14 E Performance. At 1642 pieces and retailing for US $219.99 | CAN $289.99 | UK £189.99, the price per piece is even higher than the McLaren. But how about the rest of it? Does it hit the mark that the McLaren missed? Come along as we take a deep dive into Technic’s latest 1:8 scale supercar, which will be available March 1st.

The LEGO Group sent The Brothers Brick an early copy of this set for review. Providing TBB with products for review guarantees neither coverage nor positive reviews.

Unboxing the parts, instructions, and sticker sheets

This time our 18+ black box has a lovely teal banner to match the accents on the vehicle. The back has some nice inset images of various features, as well as an image of the real life car and model compared side by side. At first glance, it certainly does have a strong resemblance.

Inside the box are twelve numbered bags, two unnumbered bags, and four loose tires.

As expected, the first several pages of the instructions feature details about the model and the real vehicle. Actually, it seems like there may be even more pages dedicated to this than is typical. Some of the highlights include a little info about the history and production process of the real W14, as well as a bit of info on design choices by LEGO. For example, they chose the slick black and teal as a nod to the 2020 livery of the real car.

Also as expected, there are A LOT of stickers. Two pages of these blanket the car in decals and sponsor logos. Without counting, it appears there are more here than what adorns the McLaren.

The build

We begin things with the front steering, while the McLaren saw us starting with the back differential. They have some differences in the piece choices as well as how those pieces are put together, however, they look essentially the same at the end (comparing front to front and back to back).

Steering works the same, and in any case, it’s fun to play with.

The springs for the suspension in the Mercedes are a bit harder than those in the McLaren, but they feel pretty similar. The springs had an intriguing install step with the McLaren, but the same is not the case here. This time we keep it simple.

Next we build the central portion of the vehicle where we’ll eventually see the cockpit. (The image below actually has the subassembly flipped, with the back part closer to the camera.) This section features heavy duty Technic frames, and a bevel gear assembly to transfer steering to an eventual knob on top, making it easier to play with. This is a feature that the McLaren does not have.

The steering wheel itself is very similar to the McLaren. They each have unique stickers, but are otherwise built the same. Interestingly, this includes the fact that the instructions show the steering wheel being slightly tweaked counter-clockwise when the wheels are centered. In both cases you can be careful to turn the gears slightly before meshing them, so that the steering wheel is centered. However, this is where my lack of F1 knowledge comes in, and maybe this is a feature among real racecars.

The GIF below shows the extreme tilt to the left vs. minimal tilt to the right when the wheels are turned based on the alignment suggested in the instructions.

With that, we add a couple more large frames and 2/3 of the chassis framework is complete.

As previously stated, when we move along to the back differential, the components look much like those of the McLaren.

Stacked on top of each other, they form a compact bit of mechanics for the rear wheels. This is where the assembly differs from the McLaren, however, in that the orientation is reverse: differential on top versus bottom.

With the addition of a final Technic frame, that wraps up bag #4.

Now we’re about to get into the big differences between Mercedes and the McLaren, and that begins with some new 3×7 panels. These are funky! They sort of have a bone-shaped cross-section, but are concave on the front side and (obviously) convex on the other. The set contains 6 in total.

The first place we see them – and a pop of color – is in the rear spoiler. Here we have our first larger stickers, and boy, they were hard to place on the new panel! This might be the most challenging part of the whole build! Ultimately it looks pretty good, but the axles sticking up on either side feel like they’re missing something.

After the spoiler, we connect the front and back sections together and have a close idea of the full length of the vehicle. It is within a couple studs of the McLaren.

Next up is the V6 engine. There isn’t really an acceptable way that LEGO could do this differently, and therefore we’ve seen the exact same construction multiple times now. Well… Close… The liftarms that hold it up in this case are the new “flip-flop” perpendicular L’s.

And although we’ve seen it many times, it’s still fun to turn the cylinders. For those of you considering a set like this for the first time, here’s your GIF!

Once installed, we bulk up the sides a bit before concluding bag #5.

Bag #6 is all about filling out the lower part of the body and making it sleek. In this case, it’s done with small curved panels, giving off that “inches from the ground” vibe. When you consider the McLaren, it uses panels without the same finished edge. It looks low to the ground until you look at the Mercedes. Much better!

Although placing the stickers is a pain, the way they blend together along the side of the vehicle is nice. The fact that there are very few flat/straight lines in this model is really starting to show. It’s also at this point that we complete the seat for the driver. Considering that the seat for the McLaren is just a curved panel, this goes way beyond that.

Turning our attention to the nose of the car, we find ourselves utilizing another new panel. Two, actually. Sandwiched between large curved panels are ones that are half the size. With the help of stickers, it gives the illusion that there are more layers there than there really are.

On the vehicle this looks really nice. A few of the very limited System elements in the set are used for the tip of the nose, including a couple of the newer quarter round bricks. It looks good, but does have the downside of falling off easily.

The rest of the front panels are also put into place at this time. The smaller panels at the front represent one of the only straight lines in the set, but it’s blended with the curved upper portion well enough that it hides how flat it is.

Nearing the end of the build process, we add the airbox that sits just above the cockpit. At its peak, above what represents the car’s camera, is the steering knob. Some collectors will probably think this looks ghastly. It depends on whether you care more about the play or display aspect of the kit, but it is easy to remove for those who hate it.

To finish up the cockpit, we add a soft axle for the halo and some mirrors. Notably absent from the front end is the number 44. This must be LEGO’s attempt to make it more about the car and less about the driver.

Much like the PEUGEOT Le Mans Hybrid Hypercar, the back is built as a removeable chunk so that you can lift it to see inside. Pictures don’t do the best job of showing how it blends together fairly well – considering it’s LEGO. A giant rotor sits at the center, like the McLaren, although they are quite different otherwise. A minor gripe (or not so minor for some) is that it was impossible to get the stickers aligned in such a way that all the stars fit together perfectly. It’s mostly not noticeable, but it may drive you nuts while putting them on.

Under the cover you can see the whole engine and differential. The assembly gets lined up with axle pins, and is a very tempting location to pick up the vehicle. Obviously, this not ideal, but there is enough meat in the middle of the car to use as a handhold if you remember to use it.

It’s also at this final stage that we add on the wheels, which consist of some new parts! Altogether these are better executed than the McLaren. Firstly, the smooth tires are far more fitting. There are also new smooth hubcaps, and printed 1×1 round tiles to top them off. The actual car does have a white band around the outside of the tires, notably absent here. However, they’re on the rubber, so it makes sense that wouldn’t be carried through to the LEGO version.

With the tires on we can test the suspension. There is a decent bit of flex there, and you can see in the GIF below where the panel edges land when it bottoms out.

The same goes for the front end. The fenders above the wheels seem to be a bit smaller in the real thing, but it’s close enough given that it’s within the confines of LEGO.

As for the steering, nothing seems to be lost along the way in terms of radius. It’s not a large turning radius, but seems reasonably accurate.

The completed model

Once finished, we have a pretty slick model that makes good use of the new elements. The black makes it look like a dark horse for the race track. It’s a nice counter to the bright McLaren and other vehicles within the Technic line in recent history.

Approaching from the front or back makes it look equally wicked.

And apart from the steering knob, the cockpit area, including the panels just outside of it, seems to be fairly well executed. There are plenty of minor things to call out in the seams, and I’m sure avid F1 fans will, but for the casual fan, the designers have done a pretty good job.

Conclusions and recommendations

Initially, this wasn’t meant to be a side-by-side comparison of the McLaren and the Mercedes, but it’s hard not to compare the two. Ultimately, this car makes the McLaren look chunky and squared. The Mercedes does a much better job of showing off the clean lines of an F1 racecar. There are so many similarities, yet there are strong differences for the better. However, the price is even more painful. With 210 more pieces, you would expect a little more detail and bit of a higher cost, but not $40 more. That’s insane! You can probably thank all the sponsor logos for that.

Honestly, it’s a tough call on this one. I like the look sooooo much better than the McLaren, but I hate the price. As far as the build process goes, sure, I’d recommend it to a fan of fast cars. It was fun. But I’m not sure it was so fun that it makes the price worth it.

Are you a Technic fan? Yes? Well guess what! We have a ton of Technic reviews coming up. Keep an eye on our main page, or check out our reviews archive!

The LEGO Technic 42171 Mercedes-AMG F1 W14 E Performance will be available March 1st and retail for  US $219.99 | CAN $289.99 | UK £189.99.

The LEGO Group sent The Brothers Brick an early copy of this set for review. Providing TBB with products for review guarantees neither coverage nor positive reviews.

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