Finally got out with the rally today in my hotel parking lot. Car is COMPLETELY stock including the battery (and charger for that matter). This is my first experience with a bone stock, out of the box RTR setup as a new user would find it. Overall, im impressed with everything but the charger. With the technology out there today, traxxas can surely do better without adding significant cost to the RTR package. The wall charger is junk and will be the first area of frustration and disappointment for a new person in the hobby. A simple 1 or 2 hour quick charger with no buttons or settings would be adequate. Something that allows you to get out and run for more than 15 minutes ever 8 hours. That is my ONLY rant. I personally think the factory 3000mah NIMH battery is decent for an RTR. Its just the charger thats junk.
Now that the rant is over, on to the good stuff.
First, I have to say, this is my 2nd experience with the TQI radio and im just so impressed with it. I have big hands and its comfortable for me. Its also SO light to carry. Any smaller kid will appreciate the weight along with a set of 4 LiPo AA's (disposables). Controls are easy to use, nothing is overly complicated for someone who just wants to open the box and run without any setup. I tried to approach this thing as if I was new and really think about how each component would feel to a new user. The radio is certainly a huge winner.
The car is really well finished. I didnt find anything that looked out of place or poorly built/assembled. I didnt adjust or check ANYTHING before i ran the car. Not even the slipper. I just charged the battery, installed it an ran. Im only through my first pack but there were no issues. Once the battery was plugged back in, fully charged, the ESC came on with a red light and no issues. Servo was nearly dead centre and took only a tiny bit of adjustment to get it straight. The throttle and brakes were both calibrated properly and worked excellent.
From the very first second I squeezed the trigger and spun the wheel I knew this was a car I was going to like. Last night, when I opened the box I was concerned about how the tires, with their taller, very square kknobs, would perform on pavement. I was worried they would either grip too well and make the car hard to slide, or they would wear extremely fast. Neither are the case. The car will stick if your easy on the throttle and steering inputs, or it will slide if you get a little more aggressive. Once a slide is initiated, I find this vehicle to be very stable and easy to control. Unlike the 1/16 rally that seems to diff out very quickly and easily ends up backwards with just slightly too much throttle or steering, the 1/10 rally can be flicked into a slide and held sideways with both the throttle and steering until you want to exit the slide, which requires only a slight decrease in throttle and steering input. As I said earlier, very predictable.
When I first got my hands on the car I was initially concerned about how soft the suspension was set and how extreme the body roll appeared to be. While I still feel a set of sway bars would be very beneficial here, I was again, impressed by how the car handled on the very sticky pavement I was running it on. The pavement here is coated in a stick rubber sealant. It couldnt offer more grip than it does now. If the car was every going to exhibit excessive body roll or even traction rolling it would be here, and it doesnt. it sets up onto its outside wheels, with what appears to be nearly perfect front to rear weight bias, and slides. I didnt even notice the inside front wheel leaving the ground during the hardest drifts, which i very much expected.
In terms of power, the VXL system appears to do a fine job in this car with the stock gearing and stock battery. Its very evident the car can handle far more power than it has. Its also clear the VXL system is begging for more amps than the stock 7 cell can provide. I would think using a good 2S lipo with stock gearing will likely prove to be the max the VXL system can handle before heat becomes an issue. And, at the end of the day, you have to take into consideration the thousands of people who will be running this car with no background knowledge of brushless systems, gearing, heat etc... in its basic RTR setup, the rally is more than fast enough and stays well out of the temperature danger zone. So this is good. Anyone who wants more from the car likely (though not always) will have more understanding of all the finer electric RC details.
Many have said they dont like the look of the stock rally body. I, for one, love it. I think its aggressive, clean and uncluttered, its got a nice shape and broad shoulders. It looks tough. I love the wing but really wish it was made of plastic in stead of lexan. I fear it will be easily destroyed in one good crash. Time will tell. The lexan used for the body appears to be the standard, thin stock traxxas uses for most of their 1/10 vehicles. its not overly tough, but doesnt seem to crack as much as it wears through very quickly. Its very flexible but I doubt it will last long, particularly if the car is run, and crashed, on pavement often.
After only 15 minutes of running I certainly dont have every aspect of this car figured out. I need more time and my own equipment to really get a complete feel for the car and all its attributes. However, from a new user perspective, I feel this car is a huge winner. Other than the disappointing charger, I cant think of anything a new traxxas customer would find unsatisfactory.