UPDATE ON THIS ARTICLE SEE OUR LATEST BLOG POST OF THE REDCAT RACING LIGHTNING EPX PRO!!!! WITH MODIFICATIONS AND PROTOFORM BODY INSTALLED!
Touring cars were once the hottest category of 1/10th RC vehicles. Being 4 wheel drive and 1/10th scale, they hooked up well on asphalt and handily became the vehicle of choice over simpler “pan cars” with limited suspension travel as well as traction and control being hampered by rear wheel drive.
Tamiya pretty much invented this category by taking a buggy design and installing shortened suspension arms, on road wheel/tires, and a proper touring sedan body. A few years later, the Associated TC3 came onto the scene with a longitudinal motor design with shaft drive connecting front and rear differentials placing the battery pack on one side of the vehicle. This is the design that has been copied now by numerous manufacturers and lives on to this day. The RedCat Racing Lightning EPX Pro is this design.
What makes this RedCat Lightning a “Pro?” First a foremost, the Pro EPX model is equipped with a brushless motor and ESC. The motor is a Leopard brand and the ESC is an EZRUN series HobbyWing type sensorless. I say “type” because I cannot for sure say it is HobbyWing brand.
Being a RTR model, the RedCat Racing Lightning is equipped with a 2.4 Ghz radio system, a 2000mah NiMh stick pack, and a slow wall charger for the battery pack. The transmitter requires 8 AA batteries ( not included.) Before I go further.....while this model includes a battery and charger....this will be the first “upgrade” I will recommend. A decent 2S lipo of say 4000mah can be had for $25 - $35 and a charger for about $50. These will give many returns on your “investment” in terms of runtime, performance, and time waiting for charging.
Other “Pro” features include the addition of aluminum body blue anodized oil filled shocks with threaded bodies and knurled height adjusters. The progressive rate springs are also a nice feature that allow the suspension to handle small bumps and provide more stiffness when cornering. The upper chassis plate is also aluminum and helps keep the chassis nice and stiff. Based on my experience with numerous touring cars over the years, I find the chassis very stiff with limited flex. The front bumper is a light weight foam type which should help prevent the front part of the body from premature failure.
Before my first drive, I changed over the banana plugs for genuine Deans Ultra connectors on the ESC as well as the included the battery pack. Deans plugs are my standard plugs, and they can handle much more current and are smaller than the bulky stock plugs. This requires soldering, and anyone getting into this hobby should quickly get acquainted with a soldering iron ( but that is another article waiting to be written.) I also re-attached the wires to chassis with some zip ties. Rather than having one bunch of wires, I separated the ESC / motor wires from the servo / receiver wires for a neater arrangement.
I decided to use the stock battery for my first drive. A preliminary voltage test showed the pack was shipped with 7.49V. That was a good sign that the battery was fresh and not sitting in the warehouse for a year. All battery packs loose voltage ( self discharge ), and from experience, a NiMh 6 cell pack with less than 6 volts usually will not perform well. I charged the pack with my Thunder AC-6 charger at 5 amps. This was too high a rate of charge, and the pack temperature was too high. While I did not ruin the pack; I will charge at a more conservative 3 amp rate in the future. The charger said it pumped 1530 mah into the battery and the peak charge stopped at 9.05 volts. So far so good for a cheap 7.2V stick pack.
I installed 8 AA batteries in the transmitter. The radio was factory paired to the receiver, and the throttle trims were spot on when I turned the system on. As for the steering, I did have to adjust trims to make the car go straight, but that is expected on ANY RTR vehicle.
I tried the car on the asphalt drive that is part of my town house scheme / neighborhood for minimal traffic issues. I must say the drive train is very smooth and quiet. I expected more gear noise and gear backlash in the transmission. As for power, it is very responsive with a top speed over 30mph. A simple change to a more powerful 2S Lipo battery pack should definitely increase not only top speed but acceleration. Handling of the car was very good with excellent transitional response and the tires gripped well on the asphalt while still allowing drifting through the corners with controlled counter steering.
While I was not on a track, I really could not see if there are any limitations to the steering servo, but I suspect that is may be a little slow as are all RTR servos. While I did not “beat” on the car, I ran it for about 15 minutes and the motor was warm but not overly hot. Longer runtimes with a Lipo will be nec. for me to fully experiment the limitations of the ESC or motor. The suspension did work well; I did remove the rear shocks and peaked inside to check the dampening oil. I felt they were a little underfilled. I poured out the remaining oil and put in some stock Tamiya oil I had lying around the workshop. This increased the dampening affect and seemed to stiffen the rear a little. Frankly, I was impressed by the handling and power of this car “out of the box.”
For a $189 or so street price, one gets a very good overall street runner / basher. There are cheaper and definitely more expensive RC touring cars on the market, but I think RedCat has done a good job with this Lightning. It has been refined over the years, and with their updated motor and ESC combo it seems a solid value. Like all RTR vehicles, the battery and charger are a definite and necessary upgrade. RedCat also has a variety of replacement parts in stock and there are many Ebay sellers ready to serve. This car is a 200mm chassis and there are a wide variety of other brand bodies that will fit that will allow customization. Utilizing the standard 12mm hex and touring car wheels allow many choices as well. This is a great RC vehicle for people who want to do street driving or for those without access to an “off road” venue. I will be updating everyone with this car as I plan to drive it “long term” and see if I discover any weak-points. For now, I will have fun.
Full disclosure: I am a RedCat Racing dealer and sell on Ebay to support my hobby. I primarily sell parts on Ebay and can order any RedCat Racing vehicle for anyone interested in doing so. Feel free to contact me via email at email@example.com with any questions or comments. I do my best to be as impartial as possible with my reviews, and am a 35 + year veteran in the electric RC car hobby.
- Mike Mizzi