In the final part of our In-Depth Drives on Tamiya’s new XV-02 Pro chassis, we are showing off the car’s finished form, along with a look into just how we set it up for driving. We’ll take a closer look at how this rally machine can be tuned for RC rally racing and give you our take on how we felt it performed. Let’s jump in and take a closer look.
Ode to a Champion
As with every customized build we do, we wanted something that stands apart from a standard box-art paintjob. Since the XV-02 Pro kit does not include a body, Tamiya graciously supplied us with an ’07 WRC Subaru body that fits the XV-02 chassis perfectly. With the Subaru body in our hands, we thought it would be fitting to pay tribute to one of the greatest rally drivers of our time, Colin McRae.
Though Colin hadn’t raced with Subaru since the late ’90s, when the infamous 555 livery was used, the ’07 almost felt more fitting to have done up in that style as 2007 was when he unfortunately left us. His untimely passing greatly affected the world of rally and the world of motorsport as a whole, leaving behind a strong legacy as one of the most recognizable, most courageous and most balls-to-the-wall WRC drivers of all time.
As we mentioned in Part 2, the XV-02 Pro features a level of tuning and adjustability that is simply unmatched by any other rally chassis on the market today. Starting with the basics, we decided to go over the adjustments from the ground up and use our past experiences with touring and off-road platforms to give us a decent starting point that would ideally perform well on the gravel surfaces on which we intended to drive. With that in mind we made some key adjustments.
First off, we adjusted shock mounting positions. We mounted the front shocks more horizontally focused, or “laid down,” which helps increase steering feel and traction into turns. This also helps to soften the shock rate a bit for landings and rougher terrain, a perfect combination for hard-packed gravel.
The rear shocks were adjusted to be more vertically oriented, though not completely vertical. This helps to improve shock damping for jumps and landings and helps stiffen the rear end to prevent too much rear squat from heavy throttle. Too vertical a shock position may compromise rear-end traction, so we may still need to make some tweaks beyond this initial setup depending on surface grip levels.
As for the differentials, the front end is fixed with the optional spool. This will give us optimized steering performance and front-end traction. We decided to leave the installed optional center slipper clutch as-is, following Tamiya’s base slipper adjustment settings for now. This will give us a median adjustment point that should only need to be altered if the racing surface greatly changes.
For the rear gear differential, we opted to use Tamiya’s kit-included diff oil, which is noted as 3,000cst. This low-weight diff oil is a good starting point and provides a somewhat “open” rear differential feel, which should be ideally suited for loose gravel driving surfaces. This of course can be changed as needed and is easily accomplished thanks to the XV-02’s modular-style diff housings that make differential removal a breeze.
Finally, we leveled out the ride height front and rear with a slightly higher rear ride height to accommodate landing jumps and initial rear-end squat under heavy throttle. We also opted to use the stock spring setup, as it felt nicely tuned out of the box. With the adjustments and tuning out of the way it was finally time to take the XV-02 Pro out and put it through its paces.
HITTING THE GRAVEL
It was no surprise that the XV-02 Pro performed well off-road. I’d expect nothing less of a purpose-built rally machine from Tamiya. The car is very easy to drive, and we quickly warmed up to its capabilities. The overall chassis design pairs well with the Hobbywing electronics, forming a winning combination that not only gave us good speed but a great driving experience. The 3300kV brushless motor puts out plenty of power to rocket the XV-02 on course while remaining easy to drive, striking a great balance of speed and control.
When compared with past RC rally experiences using a modified touring car chassis, the XV-02 Pro feels way more refined. Beyond the fact that the XV-02 Pro is purpose-made for rallying and the touring car chassis was not, the high-quality off-road driving experience of the XV-02 Pro puts it leaps and bounds beyond anything I would have initially expected. The rally-ready suspension and design of the vehicle put it on a level of driving second to none for its purposes.
Our setup choices helped the car perform well in most conditions, but it really came alive on hard-packed gravel, digging right into the surface of the road. Tamiya’s soft-compound block tires hook up nicely on many different surfaces. The tread blocks provide a solid contact patch for grip while still allowing smaller bits of gravel and dirt to break loose from the tire and not impact the driving experience.
This tire setup was ideal for our running surfaces and helped to improve the car’s overall driving characteristics.
The shaft-driven design of the XV-02 is very reliable and never skipped a beat. The sealed center spur housing does a great job of keeping dirt and debris out of the drivetrain. Tamiya includes a polycarbonate inner cover, but I personally opted not to use it for this review. I will definitely say that you should consider using it, or purchase an aftermarket mesh inner cover, as the car will pick up a lot of gravel, dirt and debris without one. After running the car back and forth I’d occasionally bring it around to empty it out.
The supplied polycarbonate inner cover and foam will do a decent job of keeping this stuff out of the chassis. I mostly opted not to use it for the sake of looks. That being said, with the sheer amount of debris I personally amassed in the car’s chassis, I never once had an issue with any of it interfering with the drivetrain components. Tamiya did an excellent job designing the XV-02 Pro driveline, and you can tell that it was purpose-made for the rigors of RC rally racing. All in all, the XV-02 Pro is an impressive example of Tamiya’s dedication to keeping the niche of RC rally alive and well.
Shipping things across country is generally fast and reliable, but sometimes screwups happen. Unfortunately this time around it happened to us, as we received the Subaru body in a devastatingly crushed box. Rather than trash a perfectly painted body and start anew, we opted to showcase this beautiful body in all its glory, even with a couple of kinks. The body was pretty crunched, but with a little persuasion and some bending of the polycarbonate we were able to pull it back into good shape. I figured it was worth mentioning just it in case you were wondering about the large creases on the driver side rear pillar. Things happen, and so we move on. I mean, it’s a rally car, so this was bound to happen eventually, right?
Painted to Perfection
For the XV-02’s striking paintjob we teamed up with our friend and paint expert Matt of MR Custom Painting. This true work of art is done up to perfection with all hand-cut masking, using no decals or premade masks in the painting process. Just the classic combination of steady hands, a sharp blade and a truly unmatched set of skills. Thank you, Matt, for this awesome-looking body!
Complete Parts list
Tamiya XV-02 Pro Chassis Kit
Street Price: $364
Hobbywing EZRUN MAX10 ESC
Hobbywing EZRUN 3652 3300kV Brushless Motor
Spektrum S6240 High Speed Servo
MaxAmps 7.4V 5450mAh 120C Hard Case LiPo
Wheels & Tires
Tamiya Block Tread Rally Tires (Soft Compound)
MSRP: $9.25 (per pair)
Tamiya 24mm 5-Spoke Racing Wheels
MSRP: $9.00 (set of 4)
Tamiya Subaru Impreza MC WRC ’07 Polycarbonate Body
Tamiya XV-02 Slipper Clutch Set
Tamiya Front Direct Coupling Set (Front Spool)
We hope you enjoyed our look into Tamiya’s new XV-02 Pro rally-ready chassis. It has certainly reignited our interest in the world of RC rally racing, and we hope it has done the same for you! This excellent niche of our hobby is so much fun to explore and it’s great to see manufacturers like Tamiya continuing to support it. If you yourself are interested in taking part in RC rally racing, definitely check out Tamiya’s XV-02 Pro as a means of doing so. We can’t recommend this chassis enough; we know you will enjoy as much as we have. Thank you for joining us on wrapping up our second-ever full-length In-Depth Drives feature. As always thanks for reading, I’ll catch you in the next one!
Text and Images by Lauren Short