Words: Dean Berry
Photos: Walter Sidas
Arguably, Traxxas started the short course truck craze when they released the Slash back in 2008. Since then, everyone has released a short course truck in one form or another.The question that has been asked many times since, is what will be the next craze in this great hobby? Well, after having driven the new Rally from Traxxas, I have a sneaking suspicion that rally cars and rally racing just might be the next big thing. While similar in size to the current batch of short course trucks on the market, the Rally brings a level of cool and realism that I think trucks just can’t capture. With so many people currently invested in short course trucks, I thought it best to pit these two similar platforms against one another and see who will reign supreme!
Comparing the Traxxas Slash 4×4 and Rally is a very fair way to determine the strengths and weaknesses of these two styles of vehicle because they share very similar suspension components and electronics. The electronics on both vehicles are, in fact, identical. Each vehicle features a Velineon VXL-3s brushless speed control that is capable of running on 6-to 7-cell NiMH battery packs and 2S to 3S LiPo packs. They both feature the same sensorless Velineon 3500 brushless motor, TQi 2.4GHz radio system and waterproof 2075 digital high-torque servo. Both vehicles also utilize the same shaft driven drivetrain with durable gear differentials, Revo-Spec Torque-Control slipper clutch and slider driveshafts. Finally, the Rally and Slash 4×4 share the same suspension including shocks, arms, towers, knuckles and hubs.
LENGTH: 21.7 in. (552mm)
WIDTH: 11.7 in. (297mm)
HEIGHT (OVERALL): 8.1 in. (206mm)
WHEELBASE: 12.8 in. (324mm)
GROUND CLEARANCE: .82in. (21mm)
WEIGHT: 6.13 lb. (2,778g)
TIRES: 2.2 in. BFGoodrich Rally gravel tires
TIRE DIAMETER: 4.02 in. (102mm)
LENGTH: 22.36 in. (568mm)
WIDTH: 11.65 in. (296mm)
HEIGHT (OVERALL): 7.60 in. (193mm)
WHEELBASE: 12.75 in. (324mm)
GROUND CLEARANCE: 2.83 in. (72mm)
WEIGHT: 5.82 lb. (2,639g)
TIRES: 2.2 in. BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/A
TIRE DIAMETER: 4.31 in. (109.5mm)
Despite all their similarities, there are some substantial differences between these two vehicles. The first, and most major, is the chassis. The durable nylon chassis used by the Slash 4×4 has well over two inches of ground clearance. Because of this awesome amount of clearance, the Slash 4×4 is well at home over huge jumps and killer terrain. The down side to the high ground clearance is that the Slash 4×4 exhibits a great deal of body roll when cornering, due to a high center of gravity and this sometimes leads to the truck flipping over. The Rally also utilizes a nylon chassis except that it has just under an inch of ground clearance. This in turn results in a lower center of gravity so the Rally is much more stable under high speed cornering. The down side to the low center of gravity chassis is that the Rally tends to bottom out when trying to tackle bigger obstacles.
Another key area of difference between these two vehicles are the tires. The Rally features BFGoodrich Rally Gravel tires. These tires have an aggressive knobby style tread that is great on loose surfaces and stands 4.02 inches tall. The Slash 4×4 utilizes BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/A inspired tires. They work well on a multitude of surfaces, have a cut tread and stand just over 4.25 inches tall. The Slash 4×4 tires, being just a bit taller than the Rally tires, help it to tame rougher terrain and are one of the reasons it has more ground clearance. The tread will also last a good long time regardless of where you operate the truck. On the other hand, the Rally tires, being a smidge shorter, help it to corner quickly. The aggressive gravel tread will wear out rather fast, however, if used on asphalt or other hard, compacted surfaces.
Each vehicle has a different bumper as well. The Slash 4×4 has a wide bumper that extends in front of the body to help protect the suspension components and chassis. On the rear, the wide bumper extends well beyond the rear tires and sits about flush with the body. The Rally has a wide foam front bumper that is hidden from view underneath the body. The bumper protects the suspension items and chassis and helps the body hold its shape in front impact collisions. The back end of the Rally has a very narrow rear bumper that extends beyond the rear tires.
Finally, and perhaps the most obvious difference, the body. The Slash 4×4 utilizes a full-fendered short course inspired off road truck shell. The Rally has a sleek on road rally inspired body similar to many production rally cars that you see on the road every day.
BEHIND THE WHEEL
I decided to test both vehicles at R/C Madness in Enfield, CT on the large 1/8 offroad dirt track. In addition to off road testing, I hit the street, so to speak, and tested them on a stone dust parking lot.
UP FIRST, THE SLASH 4X4
I first headed to the large, 1/8 inspired off road track at R/C Madness. Down the long straightaway the truck gathered up a good head of steam and I headed for the first corner. The first time through I held the throttle a bit too long and the truck wound up on its roof! Through the infield, I was sure to slow and brake before hitting any crisp corners. Headed toward the larger obstacles and jumps I hammered the throttle and the truck took flight! Each time, regardless of how much air the Slash 4×4 got, it maintained a level attitude even though the body caught a good deal of air (this is sometimes known as the kite or parachute effect). On landing, the plush suspension easily absorbed the impact from the larger jumps and the truck just kept moving forward. I then headed to the stone dust parking lot with a freshly charged 7-cell NiMH battery pack. I put up some cones for a make-shift layout so I could judge each vehicle equally. Speed with the Slash 4×4 is never an issue and the truck quickly rocketed to the first corner. Even though I thought I slowed down enough, I rolled the truck again heading into the first corner. Through the infield I really had to slow down to keep the truck on its wheels and even so, there was a good deal of body roll.
NEXT, THE RALLY
Like the Slash 4×4, the Rally was first tested on the larger off road dirt track at R/C Madness. It has just about the same top end down the straightaway as the Slash 4×4 and if I had to guess, I’d say it is just a touch slower, probably because the tires are a bit smaller. Unlike the Slash 4×4, I was able to enter the first corner at near full speed! In fact, all through the infield I was able to stay on the throttle much longer and get on the throttle faster because the Rally felt more planted and stable. While the Rally was good cornering because of the low center of gravity chassis, there was some room for improvement when it came to jumping. First, the foam front bumper sometimes scrubbed the front of larger jumps before the Rally took to the air. This slowed it down and prevented it from getting a sufficient launch to land where I wanted it to. Over small to medium jumps, the Rally performed well jumping straight and landing smoothly; but on the larger jumps it would bottom causing it to bobble and need to settle for a moment before I could grab the throttle again. With the off road testing done, I headed to the stone dust parking lot. This is where I think the Rally really excelled! With no jumps to worry about, I was able to run the Rally at close to full throttle most of the time. What I really liked was that after I had really gotten the feel for the car I was able to easily power slide it through corners, just like true-to-life racing rally cars often do. While lap times on the off road dirt track probably slightly favored the Slash 4×4, I am certain that on conditions like this, the Rally would win hands down!
To get lap times in a more controlled environment, we headed to Wolcott Hobby and Raceway’s indoor track in Waterbury, CT. There we fitted each completely stock Slash 4×4 and Rally car with a transponder in the same forward transponder location Traxxas designated with mounting bosses. From there we peaked the batteries before each vehicle hit the track and we also swept the blue-groove track before running.
Rally- We ran a number of laps and our fast lap actually came near the end of the run for the Rally car with a 19.31 second lap time.Our average lap times were consistently in the high 19, low 20 second range.
Slash 4×4- Our fastest lap with the Slash appeared during the middle of the run with a 20.14 second lap. Laps were consistent between high 20 second laps and mid 21 second laps.
Lap Time Conclusion- It was interesting to see a consistent one second lap difference between the two. It appears that the lower CG and stance of the Rally car gave it an edge over the higher CG’d Slash 4×4. We thought that the lower body stance of the Rally would scrub speed in areas, but it didn’t seem to be effected.
Can I unequivocally say that one of these vehicles is far superior to the other? No. Do I personally favor one over the other, yes, but I’ll reveal that in just a moment. What I can say is that both have clear strengths, like jumping for the Slash 4×4, and cornering for the Rally. Both are loads of fun on and off road and can be easily customized to suit your own personal style. All of this having been said, I would pick the Rally; it looks more realistic to me. I really like how it corners and with the growing popularity of Rally Cross events and drivers like Ken Block crossing over to mainstream pop culture this class is sure to explode in the near future!
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