PHOTOS JOEL NAVARRO
1/10 SCALE ELECTRIC 4WD | RTR
Easy on-road excitement for first-time drivers and established enthusiasts alike
On-road rockets like Team Associated's new Apex Touring are a draw to incoming hobbyists for their scale looks, ease of operation, and exciting asphalt-shredding performance. Thanks to exactly those qualities, ready-to- run versions of Associated's previous TC3 and TC4 race cars have been favorites among heroes of neighborhood cul de sacs around the world. With the Apex, the first on-road car in AE's “Qualifier” series of RTRs, the sport-driving recipe is taken one step further with a platform built specifically for high-performance fun whether you're in the driveway, racing an auto-cross-style course through soda-can cones in a parking lot, or even signing up for a blast around the boards at the local track. And if you think “RTR” goes hand in hand with “short on features,” be assured that AE's Qualifier-series sedan has ample tuning options, and its shaft-driven design is well proven for high performance and low maintenance. How well does the new Apex Touring stack up for all around fun? We're about to find out.
IF YOU THINK “RTR” GOES HAND IN HAND WITH “SHORT ON FEATURES,” BE ASSURED THAT AE'S QUALIFIER-SERIES SEDAN HAS AMPLE TUNING OPTIONS, AND ITS SHAFT-DRIVEN DESIGN IS WELL PROVEN FOR HIGH PERFORMANCE AND LOW MAINTENANCE.
Adjustable H-arm suspension
The Apex's suspension system is based on the time-tested standard of lower H-arms, upper camber links, and oil-filled shocks. The one-piece plastic camber links are a good choice for the Apex's parking-lot fun mission. The links won't bend-and-stay-bent like a steel turnbuckle or threaded rod might, and the non-adjustable design means new drivers (and mechanics) can't goof up the camber settings. But there is still plenty of suspension tuning options if you want to experiment. Shock angle, spring preload, roll center, steering toe, and bump steer can all be adjusted. Or, just leave them as-is and go drive!
Item no. : 130112
Weight as tested: 3.9 lb. (1,760g)
Chassis: Molded semi-tub
Type: Fixed camber swingarm
Inboard camber link positions (F/R): 3/4
Outboard camber-link positions (F/R): 1/2
Shock positions, towers (F/R): 3/3
Shock positions, arms (F/R): 2/2
Shocks: Plastic oil-filled shocks with ride height clips
Type/ratio: Shaft-driven 4WD, 6.73:1
Spur gear/pinion: 72/28. 48-pitch
Slipper clutch: None
Differential: Oil-filled bevel gear
Driveshafts: Aluminum center shaft, steel CV-style driveshafts
Bearings: Rubber sealed
WHEELS & TIRES
Wheels: Black split-spoke
Inserts: Open cell
Transmitter: Team Associated XP2G
Receiver: Team Associated XP TRS-403 SSI
Speed control: Team Associated XP SC500-BL
Motor: Reedy 3300Kv brushless motor
Steering servo: Team Associated XP Digital DS1903MG
Not only can the front and rear skid plates be replaced separately when the chassis starts to wear, the diffs drop out of the bottom of the chassis with just four screws.
EVERYTHING SPINS ON BEARINGS, A WELCOME FEATURE IN ANY RTR.
The motor drives the rear-mounted spur gear, which is directly keyed to the rear pinion gear. The blue-anodized driveshaft reaches the length of the car to drive the front diff.
Team Associated chose belt drive for its last handful of race-level sedans, but the Apex Touring's shaft drive system is a better choice for two reasons: not only does the shaft not require adjustment and maintenance like a belt, but the entire drivetrain itself is sealed from whatever dirt and debris you'll pick up while driving around the parking lot or cul-de-sac. The driveshaft spins sealed gear differentials at both ends for full-time 4WD, with steel CV-style driveshafts keying the differentials to the wheels via a cap screw-secured wheel hex. Everything spins on bearings, a welcome feature in any RTR.
With large adjustment knobs, a comfortable grip, and cushy foam steering wheel, the beauty of the XP2G radio is in its simplicity. Glitch-free operation comes from the radio's FHSS 2.4GHz signal transmission, ensuring that many Apex Touring sedans can battle it out with no conflicts.
Each corner of the Apex Touring boasts several adjustment options. Note the vertical camber link and tie-rod mounts, which open up the option to change roll center and bump steer.
The Apex Touring is built on a low-sided tub chassis that not only provides a sturdy platform for the suspension and ample space for its electronics, but also gives complete protection for the drivetrain as well. The modular design allows disassembly of the front or rear without disturbing the rest of the car, and its layout is intelligently organized given the shaft running straight down the center. The chassis, along with the rest of the car, shares parts with other offerings in the Qualifier Series (like the Pro-Lite 4×4), making it easier for your local dealer to stock parts so they'll be there if you need them.
Power system and included electronics
The Apex Touring is plenty fast with the included NiMH battery, but the SC500-BL includes a LiPo cuto” and is capable of handling up to a 3S LiPo pack!
The Apex Touring uses the same 550-sized Reedy brushless motor and SC500-BL speed control as its Qualifier Series stablemate, the Pro-Lite 4×4. It's a sensorless combo with an emphasis on reliability, and comes pre-wired with a genuine Deans plug to match the included 3000mAh NiMH stick pack. Power is nothing without control, and Team Associated's XP2G radio system provides plenty of signal security with its 2.4GHz FHSS technology (if you want to impress someone with your RC knowledge, you can explain that FHSS stands for “Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum”). The digital servo features metal gears for durability, and provides ample torque to steer the Apex from turn to turn.
Sensored and Sensorless Motors
Brushless motors come in two basic flavors: sensored and sensorless. As the name implies, a sensored motor is equipped with electronic sensors (Hall Effect sensors, to be precise). These sensors “tell” the speed control the position, speed, and rotation direction of the rotor (the part inside the motor that actually spins). This allows very fine throttle control for a smooth feel at the trigger.
A sensorless motor does omits these sensors (surprise!), and instead relies on the speed control to “read” the pulses of current that spin the rotor. A sensorless motor will generally give up some throttle precision to a sensored motor, but will deliver higher rpm and run more efficiently (and thus longer per charger) than a similar, sensored motor.
BEHIND THE WHEEL
Nothing makes an RC car easier to drive than four-wheel drive, and even the most ham-fisted newbies will have no problem launching the Apex Touring from the starting line. The stock tires stick to parking lot pavement well enough to inspire driving confidence, and when it's time to hit the brakes, all four tires lock up and bring the car to a halt in a straight line; so straight, in fact, that it won't turn even if you try when the front tires are locked up. Credit the relatively soft rubber of the tires for the car's impeccable grip, but that traction comes at the price of tread life—the tires on my test car showed a lot of wear after a half-dozen battery packs of hard driving and full-throttle drifts. You could extend the life of the tires by driving more calmly, but what's the fun in that?
“Easy to drive” is sometimes code for “slow,” but in the case of the Apex, it's easy to drive fast. The 550-sized brushless system that also powers the much heavier Pro-Lite 4×4 short course truck spins the Apex Touring's tires effortlessly and chews up parking lot real estate in a hurry and provides plenty of thrills when navigating a tight course of cones. There's more speed to be had with the included equipment, too: swap out the stock pinion gear for one that's 1-2 teeth taller and you'll add a few mph with a small sacrifice in run time.
Solid included- electronics package
Below-average tire wear
If Team Associated's TC6.1 is a surgical scalpel, the Apex Touring is a Swiss Army knife: versatile and still plenty sharp. The Apex corners with a little bit of understeer, which makes the car easier to handle, rather than being twitchy and uncontrollable for newer drivers. With appropriate modulation of the throttle and brake, you can carve smooth lines around tight corners and carry plenty of speed through high-speed sections of any parking lot course. Or, you can squeeze the trigger harder, crank the wheel farther, and pitch the Apex into a controllable slide. If you decelerate in a straight line and then let off the brakes, the Apex Touring turns in and rotates through the corner smoothly. Even when you drive hard enough to exceed the limits of the tires, the Apex Touring slides with a manageable push, so even if you get yourself into trouble, the chassis regains its composure quickly.
YOU DON'T NEED A PREPARED RACETRACK TO HAVE A BLAST BURNING LAPS WITH THE APEX TOURING …
You don't need a prepared racetrack to have a blast burning laps with the Apex Touring — just an empty parking lot, a few cones, and some friendly competition. The car is tough enough to withstand a few blows against curbs and parking blocks, let alone other cars (of the RC variety, anyway). When it comes to learning the fastest way between two corners, Team Associated's Apex Touring provides a fun, forgiving, and frugal teaching tool that allows you to hit the clipping point of the learning curve in radio control.
Team Associated teamassociated.com