I am an unabashed Rally fan, in small or full scale, so it shouldn’t come as much surprise that one of my favourite R/C cars is Tamiya’s XV-01 Rally platform.
I’m not particularly a Tamiya fan, and I must admit when I built the kit I wished that I had bought a stainless hex screw kit first because the phillips heads screws in this kit really drove me mad! But let’s go back to the beginning. When I was looking at the rally cars the first decision I had to make was of scale and style. First there was the big 1:8 scale cars like the Kyosho DRX VE, then there was the Short course based cars like the Traxxas Rally and the similar sized WR8 Flux from HPI, and then you had the more scale looking 1:10 vehicles. I liked the scale cars because of their very scale appearance, the availability of a huge range of body shells because of the touring car 257mm wheelbase, and in the case of the XV-01, the way that it handles (more on that later). One of the places that I went to do a lot of research on what people used and were driving was the Rally section of the RC Crawler forums at http://www.rccrawler.com/forum/rally/ . And help and advice from the members there was invaluable, esecially the boys form the Colorado RC Rally Championship who drive their rally cars HARD!
Kit: XV-01 #58528 with the Team Arai Subaru Impreza WRX STI
Servo: Spektrum something I had lying in my pit box
Radio: Spektrum SR300 and Dx2.0
ESC: Hobbyking 45A
Motor: Yeah Racing 3000kva
Body: Team Arai Subaru Impreza WRX STI
Tyres Front: Tamiya Rally
Tyres Rear: Tamiya Rally
Differential: Plastic Gear Differential
Optional Items: reinforced belt and alloy suspension mounts.
First Impressions / The Build
So once I decided on the XV-01 I had to make a decision as to which version. The XV-01 platform is based on the TA-06 Touring Car, with many parts being interchangeable. There is the XV-01 Pro Touring Car, definitely not what I was after, so I had the XV-01 and XV-01 Pro. The Pro version comes with a host of Blue Alloy parts including motor mount plate, wheel nuts, ball connectors, shock ends, turnbuckles etc as well as steel universals all around. And to be honest, none of those parts I wanted apart from the universals. The pro also comes without a body, and as I love Subarus, it was natural for me to choose kit #58528 with the Team Arai Subaru Impreza WRX STI (more information on the kit here http://www.tamiyausa.com/items/radio-control-kits-30/4wd-rally-on-road-(xv)-36180/rc-subaru-impreza-wrx-sti-58528)
From the feedback of the Colorado drivers, the key upgrades to get were the slipper clutch set (#54378) and most importantly, Alloy suspension mounts as the original plastic version are the most commonly broken part on these kits. These are parts 1XJ, 1XM and XJ x2. Personally I opted for the Yeah Racing versions rather than the Tamiya ones. I also ordered, and fitted Tamiya part #54448, the Reinforced Belt 573mm.
Whilst the build was slow progress because I was very busy with other things at the time (getting the gearbox out of my 1:1 car and getting it to the mechanic to be repaired), it was mostly a fairly smooth process. As I mentioned before I have now grown to have phillips head screws, especially on a new kit when they can be incredibly hard to put in the for the first time. The instructions could be a little hard to interpret at times, but nothing seriously problematic, or at least until I got to installing the electronics from the parts I had laying about the place.
You see the XV-01 has some unusual design features, the motor is front mounted, the battery is accessed from underneath the car, the driveline is reasonably sealed from dirt and dust ingress and there is a sealed box for your radio receiver and ESC. Initially I test fitted the included silver can motor, but that was quickly replaced with a cheap Hobbyking 45A esc and yeah racing 3000kva motor I had bought from a friend. Whilst both fitted just fine (although only just with the ESC fan as the space is fairly tight) the distance between the two was too great for the cables to reach. You see the ESC mounts at the rear of the battery box, with the RX at the front, and they are a fair way apart. Now with a different ESC you could swap the esc to the front and it would reach, or not run the top of the battery box which would let a lot of dirt into that area. My solution was to buy 6 bullet connectors and some wire and make extension leads for the motor wires. Plugged them in, tied them down and I was away and driving. I apologise for not having photos of the extension leads, but currently they are under a heavy layer of thick mud that I need to clean off, I promise when I next do some mods to this car i’ll post up some photos of them. Now I used a sensorless combo, but my brother is trying to put a sensored system into his XV-01 and he is really struggling to find a sensor cable long enough, so keep that in mind with this car.
The last thing to do was of course to paint the body. I was tempted by so many WRC and race car colour schemes, but I had just done a new White, Green & Black scheme on my SCT so I decided to mimic that on my rally car. The Tamiya bodies are great quality in their detail and it was a pleasure to paint and the inclusion of mirrors, scoops and wings that clip on really add to the overall appearance of this body. However here is where I diverted from the norm, once again on the advice that I had seen on the Colorado R/C Rally facebook page and the Rally forum. You see as a low slung car, bumps and cracks from racing around on almost an surface can quickly shorten the life of the body. One of the tricks that they use is to reinforce the body with drywall (plasterboard) tape, and shoe goo. Shoe goo is a glue that once dried is fairly rubbery, so a layer of this on critical places, and the tape on top and pushed into the glue makes a fiberglass like reinforcement for the body. Small tight gaps on the body can be fulled with the glue to further strengthen the body. The result is a slightly heavier, but stronger and still flexible body. So far it has done a sterling job at keeping the body together and while a couple of small sections have cracked, it hasn’t moved or started coming apart at all because of the glue and tape behind it.
I don’t have any professional studio photos of the completed car, not because I can’t, but because if you want them, you would check out the Tamiya website, so there is no point me taking photos that are much the same when I could be spending the time driving!
Once the body was prepared it was time for the first proper drive on some dirt. Now because of the motor configuration in this car it handles unlike any other rc car that I have had on dirt. No matter which way you point the car, the tail end just follows. It drives so much like a fill size rally car that it looks amazing, and is majorly fun. With a little practice and a bit of a Scandinavian flick the car can drift on dirt around your corner or turning point like a champion rally driver. Even whilst in a slide the ease of which the slide can be adjusted to turn tighter or drift wide is a testament to the chassis. It is almost as if it pivots around the front wheels, the weight bias over the front wheels is mostly the cause of this, but the fun it provides on dirt is hard to explain. In fact no other rally car in any scale that I have seen replicates the way that this car handles in both ease of driving, or replicating how it’s 1:1 equivalent handles on a rally stage.
BUT, and you know there is always a but, the terrain you are driving on plays a big part of how well this car handles. You see driving on a bluemetal gravel the stones are simply too large for the car to handle and the car jumps and bumps around. If you think about the car, the average piece of bluemetal to a 1:10 rally car is the size of a fairly large boulder to a full size car. Finding a fairly scale place to drive is a key part of the driving experience, find a place with fine gravel, sandy soils, hard packed dirt, mud or even very dusty conditions and this car shines. If the rocks are too big, then you simply end up frustrated and wishing you had bought a SCT sized rally car. However if you take that route, one day you will see somebody driving an XV-01 on dirt and wish you had bought one. Also the XV-01 is a cheaper alternative, especially if you already have some electronics around the place with the kit being available for under $200 USD posted from overseas with the only things being needed to get driving is some paint, radio, servo, esc and motor.
So how does the XV-01 handle on jumps and bumps, well for what is basically a touring car chassis with a forward bias weight balance, fairly well. Again you need to look at the heights in a scale context as well, but small jumps are achievable in the right circumstances, but it certainly won’t be eating up a 1:10 or 1:8 dirt track with ease any time soon.
The only problem encountered while driving this was steering binding. Whilst the electronics are protected, the steering still has space to get rocks in there. It is all too easy to break something if a rock gets in there, but a little common sense if I can’t turn one way and i’ve avoided any breakages. More on this under modifications to be performed.
So what damage have I done to the XV-01 so far, well pretty much nothing so far. Of course the chassis is all scratched, as is the body (mostly from a few laps around a 1:10 off road course where the carpet track was just too grippy for the tryres). I’ve popped off a steering rod once, and I think if I had the plastic suspension mounts I might have broken them a couple of times, but so far the plastics of the Tamiya kit have stood up to a thrashing very well, even if I still haven’t trimmed my body posts!
Parts availability, being a Tamiya, is pretty good both at local stores and at overseas stores. Like many cars there are a lot of hopups available for all kinds of parts of the car. Tamiya make a pile of upgrades, as does Yeah Racing, GPM Racing and Boom Racing.
Modifications to be Performed
Like any good car, modifications are abound to be done, and I certainly have a few planned. Being muddy and wet on a fairly regular basis, and my new found hatred of the phillips head screws in this kit, the Yeah Racing TS-XV-01 Titanium Screw set is an investment I would like/need to make to not only get rid of some phillips head screws, but also to keep rust at bay. At least front universals are on my list to do to aid in longevity and a little more steering lock, the part number for the front ones from Tamiya are #54515. Then there are some upgrades that do not relate to available parts in the line of more weatherproofing to keep mud and dirt out. Rocks getting into the steering is one problem this car has. My brother has experimented in using some pieces of foam in there that compress by the servo horn, but stop rocks getting in mostly. Some of these come in from the hole under the chassis, so I will be making a combined rock guard/chassis protector out of some thin overhead projector sheets or lexan.
Another modification that a lot of XV-01 racers make is using bicycle inner tubes and shoe goo to extend the mudguards fitted to this kit to meet the body and keep more debris out, and even utilising the same to make longer covers over the rest of the chassis. I may also contemplate the alloy 18T pulley from the TA-06 which is part #54450, but the plastic ones haven’t given me trouble so far.
Another interesting development was the recent release by Tamiya of a Long Damper Spec kit that uses a taller suspension tower to allow a longer damper to be fitted resulting in more suspension travel, which is normally a good thing off road. I’ll be looking closely at that to see if the shocks and shock towers are something that I will fit to my XV-01. Tamiya’s page on this new version of the XV-01 can be found here http://www.tamiyausa.com/items/radio-control-kits-30/4wd-rally-on-road-(xv)-36180/rc-xv-01-chassis-kit-84375 . The shock towers for this are parts #54581 and #54582 , but i’m not sure about the damper part numbers as yet.
There are many other 1:10 rally kits out there, the Tamiya TT-01 and TT-02 along with the Rally Legends models to name a few, but none have the joyful handling performance of the XV-01, and I have yet to meet anybody who has not been 100% happy with purchasing one. Even if a better version comes out, I think the XV-01 will remain in use by me as a rally car for as long as I stay in this hobby, and maybe beyond! As a parting note, yes, I know that I need to trim the body posts, it is actually my first job to do this Saturday!
I thought I would also include a bit of a bonus video of some XV-01’s in action as a part of the Colorado RC Rally Championship