Every so often we come across an RC kit with such a unique design that it truly inspires us. Kits like these usually feature something truly noteworthy, something that really stands out in the design. These are the special kind of kits that really capture our interest, reigniting that passion for RC that we have had for so long at RC Car Action. As soon as I saw the Tamiya’s Formula E Gen2 kit, I just knew I had to get my hands on it. I knew for me it would be that special kind of kit.
Tamiya’s Formula E Gen2 features a design that is so unique it has rekindled my love of all things RC, recapturing my attention and my imagination.
The TC-01 is one of Tamiya’s more in-depth chassis to build. The breakdown of major parts is actually pretty simple, but it’s the small details that make it a more involved build process. It’s important to pay attention to the detailed instructions in the manual as it can be pretty easy to use the wrong length screw or the improper size spacer if you don’t read the build steps thoroughly. However, this shouldn’t cause concern as Tamiya’s instructions are well laid out with technical drawings and visual aids so it just simply comes down to paying attention to each step.
Overall, the TC-01 chassis design is impressive. The monocoque chassis and push-rod suspension fit well with the Formula E body and make for an enjoyable build process. It’s really cool to see something other than the usual upright strut design on a 4WD on-road RC chassis.
As can be expected from Tamiya’s race-grade kits, the quality of materials is a cut above their usual offerings. The TC-01 is made of mostly glass-fiber reinforced plastic, giving the chassis the durability and rigidity needed for tough use on the track. This plastic also helps to cut down on weight, and in the long run saves on cost of replacement parts, making the TC-01 a relatively budget friendly advanced race kit. Tamiya’s parts tolerances on the TC-01 are spot-on. I never found myself needing to modify parts to get them to fit, everything just bolts nicely into place as designed.
The Formula E Gen2 polycarbonate body is one of Tamiya’s more intricate designs, mixing that bit of model building aesthetic with full blown RC race car. The complexity of the body design is high, so it’s ideal to take your time when cutting out the pieces and preparing for paint. Believe me when I say that your patience will be rewarded.
As is the usual case with race-grade kits, electronics need to be supplied. Tekin came through with a full suite of their electronics, including a RS SPEC Gen3 ESC, a Spec-R 17.5T brushless motor, and a T-120 Lo-Profile digital servo, making this TC-01 build a force to be reckoned with. Flip the pages over to our Test Bench articles for a more in-depth look into our take on each of these Tekin electronics components.
Drivetrain components are well thought out, with steel dogbones and steel center driveshafts being used throughout the kit. The front and rear differentials are TB04 design, making the TC-01 compatible with all TB04 diff options, including ball diffs and front spool. The center gearbox is kept nice and simple with a direct pinion to spur design, like most on-road touring cars, so changing out a pinion is straightforward once you remove the center gearbox. The center gearbox prop shaft is aluminum and sits on included ball bearings, allowing for smooth and fast acceleration. Tamiya also supplies ball bearings for all other major moving components, so right out the box the TC-01 drivetrain spins smooth and reliably.
Beyond the build materials and unique design, the TC-01 includes a level of detail that goes beyond the norm. Details like the little molded covers for the upper suspension arm screws and the molded front bumper and rear valence add that extra bit of realism to the finished model. All in all, building the TC-01 Formula E Gen2 is a fun project, made even more satisfying by the end result being just so good when it all comes together.
HITTING THE TRACK
If I had to choose one word to describe the driving experience of this car, it would be smooth. This is quite possibly the smoothest shaft-drive car I’ve ever driven. None of the crazy chatter of driveshafts, no sense of the car’s power being sucked up by parasitic drivetrain components, just a buttery smooth ride that translates into a really enjoyable driving experience. Tamiya has included a lot of little details that all add up to a really well-designed 4WD shaft-driven car.
The manual’s suggested setup is very forgiving to drive and handles parking-lot and street style surfaces nicely. The TC-01’s suspension is almost unphased when hitting small cracks and bumps. The push-rod suspension design helps to keep the car planted, even when the surface gets a little rough, and this translates nicely to practical driving. It felt like the chassis was less upset by uneven surfaces than a normal suspension design and I was able to keep in it in line without losing traction on bumpier sections.
The car has plenty of steering, making tight technical turns easy to navigate and the 4WD design gives plenty of traction for the long, fast sweepers. The 4WD design also makes pulling the car back into line really easy in those times when it does lose some traction. The kit tires do a good job of staying grippy when warmed up. When hitting loose dust, or even some of the cooler shaded areas on my test track, they did lose traction a few times, but this is more driver error than a fault of the tires themselves. With correct driver input and some tire prep the kit tires do quite well.
The gearing out of the box has been something that racers mention needs adjustment, but ultimately this comes down to the style of track you are driving on. Personally, I found the low-end punch and top-end speed with a 17.5T motor to be easy to handle, which works well if your goal is to take the kit out to parking lots and have some fun. For the more serious spec-class racers, a gearing change may be needed to match the desired top or bottom end power and extract maximum performance.
It’s kits like the Tamiya Formula E Gen2 that reignite our passion for the RC hobby. The culmination of a well thought out design, great quality parts, a fun and detailed build process, and the end result of a car that is super fun to drive once built makes this kit one of my all-time personal favorites.
The look of the body is nicely replicated to scale and includes many little details you’d expect from a Tamiya kit. What I really enjoyed as well was hearing from other enthusiasts about their own experiences with the TC-01 chassis and how much they’ve enjoyed it. If you’re shopping around for a new on-road kit to add to your collection, then I’d highly recommend giving the Tamiya Formula E Gen2 some serious consideration.
Text and Images by Lauren Short