radio controlled cars test - hpi nitro 3 evo rtr
IF YOU WANT GENUINE HIGH SPEED THRILLS WITHOUT BIG BILLS, WHY NOT TAKE A LOOK AT RADIO CONTROLLED RACING WITH SOMETHING LIKE AN HPI NITRO 3 EVO?
Even the most basic forms of motorsport are punitively expensive. I was chatting last week to a colleague who takes his BMW M3 on a few track days a year around the UK with a yearly pilgrimage to the Nurburgring. When we sat down and worked out how much he was spending a year on his hobby, he got a bit ashen faced when he totted up a figure of over £5,000. If you want to compete, the prices ramp up sharply from there. Fortunately, there is a far more cost effective alternative that may not quite have the same addictive tinge of danger but is massively easier on the pocket.
For around £200, you can get yourself an HPI Nitro 3 Evo RTR (ready-to-run) radio-controlled car. While this jumble of letters and numbers doesn't suggest a whole lot to most people, it's basically a shatteringly fast nitro-powered car that can be fitted with a whole host of bodyshells depending on your mood. The car I tried was fitted with a BMW M3 GT touring car body, and it's astonishingly detailed right down to the sponsor's stack of decals behind the front wheel arch that get coated in exhaust oils, leaving the car looking like something left in the paddock of an endurance race.
I had a quick look to see what other bodies were on offer and also fancied the Chrysler Viper and the Subaru Impreza, and having all three in my garage would be just about perfect. There's a lot to admire about the finish of these cars but to fetishise the detailing and workmanship that goes into producing a Nitro 3 Evo is to slightly miss the point. These cars are built for action. Able to reach a top speed of over 45mph, this equates to a scale speed in excess of 400mph and acceleration that's almost unbelievable. From a standing start, our 'BMW' was able to hit its top speed in around three seconds! Imagine sitting in a full sized car and hitting 400mph in three seconds flat. It would make a Formula One car seem ridiculously sluggish.
"Imagine sitting in a full sized car and hitting 400mph in three seconds flat. It would make a Formula One car seem ridiculously sluggish.."
The first time you drive a Nitro 3 Evo in anger, you'll probably have slightly sweaty palms. Despite having fearsomely good brakes, it's genuinely hard for your brain to process the information, so quickly does this thing move. Your hands will work the controller frantically, sweat will bead on your brow, you'll find yourself holding your breath as you come piling into a tricky bend and after five or ten minutes you'll probably be physically worked. I found I was getting plenty of exercise retrieving the car from the undergrowth, so ham fisted was my driving, but these things are fortunately built pretty tough and after a number of full speed crashes, the car only had some superficial scuffing to show for my agricultural exploits. The 2.5m thick aluminium chassis gives the Evo some serious protection without adding too much weight and the two speed gearbox offers decent low end acceleration and a high top speed.
The controls are relatively straightforward, although if you're learning the ropes, make sure you've got a lot of room. Something around half the size of a football pitch is good as a tennis court-sized area is nowhere near big enough to give the car its head. The controller takes a little getting used to, with a direction control that's shaped like a wheel and tyre combination with a two-way throttle on a trigger beneath. Squeeze for power and push back the other way to apply the disc brakes. It's a far cry from the rather simple arrangement I used as a kid with two joysticks! There's also a myriad of other minor controls to trim the throttle and a few other switches, the functions of which I don't profess to understand. At the top, there's a slot into which you pop a crystal that dictates the sending unit's frequency. Get two the same and they'll clash with potentially expensive consequences.
Mere novices will need to realign their perspective on just what is meant by 'fast' if they've never driven this sort of nitro powered R/C car before. If, like me, you were brought up with battery powered R/C buggies from hobby shops, then you're in for a bit of a shock. Whereas at full chat, these inexpensive buggies would maybe top out at 15mph, this Nitro 3 Evo will treble that sort of speed. With carefully considered gearing and 40,000rpm to play with, the Evo is quick off the mark but also features a high top end. In addition, there's a full four-wheel drive system for added grip.
The 20 per cent nitro fuel it runs on is available from many model shops. Using a bottle to squirt the fuel into the tank keeps things clean and the Evo only requires a couple of slugs to give ten or fifteen minutes of fun before it will require another refuel. 2.6bhp may not sound particularly exciting but it's enough to give this model car some serious punch out of corners.
Although around £200 may sound expensive for a radio controlled car, you're getting a high quality piece of engineering with the RTR Nitro 3 Evo and it should provide a good deal of fun. What's more, it's good enough to use as a beginner race car in R/C leagues, with all sorts of aftermarket tyres, suspension parts and engine mods available should you want to tweak your car to even higher levels. As probably the least expensive form of motorsport around, it has a lot to be said for it.