RTR Luxury Performance
This article was originally published in RC Driver’s June 2015 issue.
Words: Scott Donaldson
Photos: Walter Sidas
By now we’ve all seen the ad that had everyone who has ever picked up an RC transmitter buzzing. I’m of course speaking of the 30-second spot during the big game in February where a 1/10-scale car came drifting onto our TVs. Anyone who follows Team Associated knew that they had partnered with Lexus to bring this awesome commercial together. It was one of those moments where an RC car was presented not as a toy, but as a high-performance machine. The car that made us all so giddy was the Team Associated Apex Touring Car and I am lucky enough to be the one who was tossed the keys for the test drive.
WHO MAKES IT: Team Associated
WHO IT’S FOR: Beginners to intermediate touring car fans
PART NUMBER: 30114
HOW MUCH: $289.98
BUILD TYPE: RTR
• Top-notch manual with quick start guide
• The stock 3300Kv Reedy Motor is fast right from the box
• Sure-footed handling inspires confidence behind the wheel
• Metal ring and pinion gears and fluid fillable gear differentials front and rear
• Waterproof electronics
• Accepts standard sedan wheels and bodies if you want to change things up
• Pinion gear is exposed to debris
• I just about wore out the tires in an afternoon
• Transmitter batteries sold separately
Team Associated practically invented shaft drive touring cars, dating back to the original TC3 and the TC4. The Apex TC platform doesn’t share any parts from those cars, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t share the inspiration. The Apex is quite interesting as it has a lot of race-quality features in a car designed for scale fun and parking lot racing. But never judge a book by its cover as the Apex TC is really a great all-around fun platform that is well equipped and should bring many smiles per-hour.
TOOLS AND ACCESSORIES INCLUDED
• Wheel Wrench
• L-style Allen wrenches
• 3300mAh NiMH Battery
• 400mA Peak Detection Wall Charger
• 6-“AA” batteries for the transmitter
HOP-UPS WE RECOMMEND
3988 – Touring Car Spring Set
Changing your springs is one of the easiest ways to get dialed in on just about any surface and Team Associated has a great set with all the springs you could need. Not only will it save you money over buying them individually, but they also come in a blister pack you can use to keep them organized in your pit box.
620C – Reedy 447-S Charger + Battery Combo
The stock charger does a good job at charging the battery, the problem is it doesn’t to that job quickly. When you have a car this fast and capable you’re not going to want to wait eight…long….hours….to….. charge. The cool thing about this option is that not only does it come with a peak detection charger that will top your pack off in less than an hour it also includes a 3000mAh NiMH battery to give you even more runtime.
1655 – Factory Team 8-Piece 1/4” Hex Driver Set
Working and wrenching on your car is part of the fun of the hobby. The stock L-wrenches will do an OK job in the beginning, but you’re going to want a decent set of Allen wrenches eventually. This wrench includes the most popular sizes in both metric and standard and stores all the tips inside the handle for convenience.
31440 – Sprint Drift Wheel and Tires
Being hooked up and carving through chicanes is fun, but grabbing a handful of throttle and sliding around corners while on the edge of out-of-control is one of the most challenging aspects to RC driving you’ll ever try. These drift tires come pre-mounted for you. Just bolt them to the wheel hexes and you’ll be ready for drifting action.
If you checked out our last issue you saw our initial overview of the chassis and overall platform. As with all cars in the Apex lineup this version uses a molded bathtub chassis and 4WD shaft drive. The main chassis features a molded upper deck to help resist front-to-rear flexing and provide a great backbone to build upon.
The Apex’s drivetrain is designed to take the abuse that torquey brushless motors are known to dish out. The ring and pinion gears inside the front and rear gearboxes are metal and won’t flex or distort under load like molded gears can.
Speaking of the diffs, they are fluid- fillable which allows you to tune them for just about any surface or traction condition.
To make things easier for beginners the Apex TC features fixed length molded camber and steering links. The geometry looked pretty spot-on from the box, but I’d like to see an optional set of adjustable links available down the road.
All four shocks are of equal length and feature clip-on adjusters for when you want to make subtle ride height changes.
The included electronics are very stout, including Reedy 3300Kv waterproof brushless motor and ESC which should propel the car to some very respectable speeds.
Team Associated has really upped their game lately when it comes to the bodies included with their RTRs and the Apex is no exception. The lines perfectly replicate those found on the full-scale counterpart and the decal set rounds out the looks perfectly without being too much.
The included Reedy Wolfpack battery uses what Team Associated calls a T-Plug. This will be compatible with a Deans Ultra Plug.
ON THE TRACK
I was super pumped to get the Apex TC out of the box and on the road. While the car comes with a wall charger, I opted to use my fast charger because, well, I’m impatient. I charged the stock battery at a four-amp rate and in less than an hour I was ready to go tearing around the neighborhood. With some sedans, getting the battery into the chassis itself can be a challenge, but the Apex TC’s chassis and battery brace are set up properly right from the box to hold the pack tight enough that it doesn’t slide around—but not so tightly that you have to nearly break the battery bar to get it installed.
From the first grip of the trigger I let out an audible “whoa!” as the Apex TC sped away from me in a blur. There was still some left-over road salt and sand on the road I was driving on and the car sped through this like a boat cutting a wake on the water. It was pretty cool to see the dust behind the rear of the car form into trails, similar to contrails seen behind the rear wings of F1 and Indycars when the humidity is high. With the stock motor and battery, speeds were pushing 40 mph and I am sure that we could eclipse that marker easily with a 2S LiPo.
The tires that come with RTRs can be hit or miss. If a tire is too soft they’ll have a ton of grip while they last, but the life suffers. If a tire is too hard they’ll last forever, but they won’t provide the traction you’ll want. The tires included with the Apex lean towards the soft side of the spectrum so they have a decent amount of traction, but they will wear quickly. I’m OK with the balance
that these tires provide though, as I ran nearly a dozen packs through the car and, while they were looking worn, they were still hooking up on the asphalt in the parking lot I was on. The more worn they got the less they liked dust or pebbles, but that is to be expected.
The Apex is really a blast to drive, not just thanks to the speed, but thanks to the capable handling of the platform too. The faster a car goes the harder it is to keep it locked to the asphalt, but the Apex TC had a great balance to it. I could slide the rear end around if I really pitched the car into a corner, but overall it actually had a slight push at-speed, perfect for beginners. If I had to use one word to describe the car’s handling I’d have to say predictable. If you want to throw it around and do donuts, the car will oblige. If you want to carve tight lines through chicanes or sweepers, the Apex will be just as capable.
Team Associated definitely nailed it when they put the electronics package together for the Apex. The Reedy 3300Kv will spank and yank rival cars that come with brushed motors in terms of speed and performance. On top of that you also get the benefit of increased efficiency of a brush- less system which also helps extend your runtime per-charge. I experienced a very respectable 15-minute runtime as a norm with the stock setup while the motor and ESC rarely got over air temperature. The only minor issue I had with the motor was when the car came to a sudden and seemingly unexplainable screeching stop on a speed run. Looking closely at the chassis I saw a pebble had gotten lodged between the pinion and spur gear, preventing them from spinning. I grabbed a hobby knife and pried the culprit out and inspected the gears for signs of damage. Thankfully everything seemed OK and I was able to continue running for the rest of the day.
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SPECS AND TUNING OPTIONS
LENGTH: 17.24 in. (438mm)
WIDTH: 7.48 in. (190mm)
WHEELBASE: 10.2 in. (259mm)
WEIGHT: 3.88 lbs. (1.76kg)
BODY, WHEELS AND TIRES
BODY: Scion Racing FR-S
WHEELS: Orange S-Spoke
WHEEL ADAPTOR TYPE: 12mm Hex
TIRES: High Grip Racing
TYPE: 4-wheel independent
RIDE HEIGHT: Adjustable Shock Pre-Load Clips
MISC: Adjustable Caster and Anti-Squat
TYPE: Dual Bellcrank TOE: Fixed
MATERIAL: Modular Composite Design
TRANSMISSION: Shaft Drive
DIFFERENTIAL: Fluid Fillable Gear Differentials
CLUTCH TYPE: N/A
GEAR RATIO: 6.73:1
BEARINGS: Full Set of Shielded Bearings
Performance – Acceleration: 9
Performance – Steering: 7
Performance – Handling: 8
Performance – Durability: 9
Feature Breakdown: 8
Overall Value: 8
I love driving touring cars and the Apex from Team Associated totally brought me back to that world of fun and style. The platform is stout, not only in terms of durability but also in terms of performance. Everything that went into the car just felt so deliberate, from the power system to the body, wheels and tires to the body. Team Associated has a great legacy when it comes to touring cars and the Apex is a worthy addition to that family tree.
TEAM ASSOCIATED teamassociated.com