The parts quality looks great, the build went smooth and while studying the buggy on the bench the slew of impressive features left us wanting to run this buggy immediately. After some engine break-in time the Team Associated RC8B3 was packed up and unloaded at Wolcott Hobby and Raceway in Wolcott, Connecticut, a track built specifically for 1/8 off-road. The clay surface was sugared and packed well with plenty of jumps and a variety of turn styles so all in all it was a great place to get a feel for this new buggy release. Lets get into the details.
ON THE TRACK
JUMPING/ HANDLING- On the bench, the shock set-up felt a bit on the heavy side so I was curious to see how the Team Associated RC8B3 played out on the track. My trusty sidekick Tony Phalen and I headed off to Wolcott Hobby & Raceway for a day of testing. I rolled out the RC8B3 on the track and started out easy, getting a feel for the handling and then with a few laps under my belt started to push the buggy. The buggy has a bit of a dead feel to it and that’s a good thing as when you land or hit bumps and ruts the buggy stays in line or lands with a plush, in-control feel. The buggy, although built to be light in many respects, in not overly light to where it feels out of control. The balance feels just right and drivers should feel at ease pushing it hard. The buggy skis off the big jumps, is controllable as you would expect in the air and typically lands slightly nose down for the spinning front wheels to pull it through landings. Through the ruts the buggy felt so stable, not bucking through the blown out sections. The few times I did land the buggy less than perfectly, it was easy to regain control and keep motoring on.
STEERING- Back to that bench test, the buggy has gobs of steering so I really wanted to see how well it would do on the track. The off-power steering is amazing, the weight forward setup helps plant the front wheels, the inner wheel on the corner has a ton of throw and its caster helps dig the tire in to carve the corner while the outer tires push it through the turn. There is some rotation from the rear of the car with the way the diffs are set up to further enhance how well the buggy corners. At higher speeds, those front wheels digging in and the rotation still get the RC8B3 quickly through the larger corners and this buggy is so much fun to blast through big sweeping turns.
ACCELERATION/ BRAKING- With the RC8B3’s lightweight driveline and a potent REX Legend 7 engine bolted to the chassis I thought the power this buggy was going to lay down would be intense and it was. The buggy has a lot of punch and with the stock setup and my choice of Pro-Line Blockade tires, there was plenty of traction and minimal wheel spin. The traction resulted in amazing acceleration on the straight and an easy time running the car up short chutes. The snappy acceleration also helped me tweak the car in the air and rip out of the tight, one hundred and eighty degree corners on the track. But just as impressive was the braking, which I set up with a bit more rear brake bias. The RC8B3 feels stable under braking and can easily slow up the buggy at the end of straights without issue. My favorite part of running on the test track was actually during a hard braking corner with a bump on the entry. I could come at the bump hard, crank the wheel, stab the brake and the buggy would slide up, over and around the bump and was set up to rip down the next shoot.
DURABILITY/EASE OF USE- Although my test report may sound like I was a pro driver laying down laps at the Nats, I was less than perfect. I had my fair share of cartwheels after hitting some jumps wrong and plenty of meet-ups with the pipes in the corners. Luckily nothing broke during the print magazine test session. I did, however, break the steering servo horn during the video shoot but I planned to upgrade to aluminum anyway like just about ever RC racer on the planet does. I did read early rumor reports that there were arm and axle issues with the buggy on pro team test cars, but AE fixed them before production cars hit and my test buggy didn’t have any issues. But what I love on this car is its ease of use, the layout is nice and clean and easy to work on. The diffs are easy to get to, there are plenty of tuning adjustments, even two wing mounts are supplied, one high and one low, so tuning the wing height is fixed and easy to swap without the worry of wing mount parts falling off in a race. Team Associated really did pay attention to all the details a driver wants when they want to hit the track competitively.
Authors Opinion: If I had to pick a favorite class in RC racing it would be 1/8 nitro buggies so I tend to really study every part and design feature in a vehicle. It appears Team Associated went to town in the details department on the RC8B3 and created an awesome buggy in box stock form and it amazed me with its performance on the track. Do you need one, AE fans? Simply put; hellz to the yeah!