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Part 1: First Impressions



Rally cars have always been popular with slot car makers and buyers. The full-scale sport itself might be disappearing from the mainstream but toy rally cars remain favourites in the hobby.

Currently there are only three WRC cars active, all of which are now available as off-the-shelf slot cars: the Ford Fiesta (made by SCX and Scalextric), the MINI Countryman (made by Carrera and Scalextric) and the Citroen DS3 (made by SCX and Carrera).

At least we're not yet into Peugeot 307 territory, when the under-performing cabriolet was made by AutoArt, Carrera, Ninco, Scalextric and SCX!
Anyway, quite often on the Forum we ask what a new car is like, whether anyone's tried one manufacturer or another and so on - and I was therefore able to take two models of the same car to the recent Farnham round of Slot Rally GB to compare how they run: the Scalextric and SCX Ford Fiesta WRCs.

In addition, SRGB organiser Gareth Jex elected to run Scalextric's new MINI Countryman WRC to add a little competitive spice to the occasion. While it was always unlikely that a standard car fresh off the plinth would ever challenge for honours, the race not to be last would be fierce!

Livery and finish
SCX has made the number 3 car of Mikko Hirvonen as driven on the 2011 Rally Sweden, while Scalextric has made the number 4 of team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala as seen on the 2011 Rally Mexico. This can give you rather a nice looking team, in the Abu Dhabi/Castrol livery.

The differences in livery are slight. Neither model has got the orange roof stripes in quite the right place but if the tampo on the Scalextric car is sharper, the SCX scores strongly for having wingmirrors and three roof aerials where the Scalextric offering has no mirrors and one aerial. Note to SCX, however: UK registration plates are yellow at the rear!

As if to compensate for this oversight, however, the Scalextric car's wipers are set to sweep right-to-left. A quick check on the 1:1 car reveals that they go left-right - just like the SCX car.



There is one glaring difference between the two and that is the 'dirty' finish applied to Scalextric's Fiesta, aimed at replicating the dust of the Mexican plains. This is very much a Marmite issue among slot rallists. To my eye it doesn't have the quality of hand-painted weathering but it does make the SCX look a bit more like a toy with its more vivid colours. I like it.



On the interior side, Scalextric let the ball slip a bit with its crew, who are dressed in virginal white. Or to put it another way: completely unpainted. Even the fairly crude blue 'overalls' on the little chaps in the SCX car give depth - which is ironic, given that they are simple moulds on a tray compared to Scaley's full figures.

Stance and accuracy
The Scalextric car sits just under 2mm taller than the SCX, and by maintaining the car's lines it is proportionally taller in the nose as a result. The SCX looks wider but in fact they are divided by the equivalent of an anorexic *** paper, it's just the perspective of the lower car messing with your head. Both are good models of the lines of the Fiesta WRC and have all the required bumps and scoops in place.



Under the Skin
I didn't have time to photograph the cars with their clothes off, but you know what to expect: the Scalextric car comes with a sidewinder-mounted Mabuchi, which delivers rear-wheel-drive only. It has digital plug capability and sparkly lights to the front and rear. It would take some serious surgery to go AWD even with a band drive.

Getting the traction magnet out of it was extremely hard work, as not only is it buried deep in a tight-fitting chassis recess with no play in the plastic, but also everything mechanical was steeped in oil to the point where the motor slithered repeatedly out of my grip. As ever, Scalextric didn't design it to be tinkered with.

The SCX car meanwhile comes with the RK91 motor driving all four wheels through a central shaft. This is a bonkers little motor - if you haven't tried an SCX WRC car for a while it's a long way down the road from the dear old RX motors. Both the little thunderbox and the xenon lights are fed with power via the brand's traditional copper strips. Taking the traction magnet off is as easy as ever - undo the retaining screws and off you go. I did oil the SCX car's motor and bearings, then it was time for the rally action to get underway.



To be continued...
 

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You tease you


Nice story so far, wondering what is coming next.

Are you saying the RK 91 is no match for the RX42 etc, if so in what way does it handle worse?
could you please elaborate on how.

Will be following this one.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
QUOTE (JaakBeentjes @ 25 Sep 2012, 11:04) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>You tease you


Are you saying the RK 91 is no match for the RX42 etc, if so in what way does it handle worse?
could you please elaborate on how.

I didn't want to overload people with pictures!

The RK-91 is a very serious motor. It's got a heap of torque and gets down to business so fast that it reminds me of the performance of the SCX Pro Xsara more than the standard WRC cars of old. Couple that with a short wheelbase and stock tyres and you've got a real little monster.

But that's getting in to the performance part, which I'll finish as soon as possible
 

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Horlicks Hero
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QUOTE (driver#8 @ 25 Sep 2012, 11:11) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>I didn't want to overload people with pictures!
No need to hold back on our account.

I've had my eye on the Fiestas for a while now, but I really don't like the muddy effect. I've been seriously considering the SCX one because it looks good and I expect it will go pretty well, but view the Scalextric one as a platform on which to put some alternative bodies from the upcoming Airfix kits.

I look forward to the rest of this review. Thanks.
 

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Part 2: Performance test

The Farnham round of the 2012 Slot Rally GB delivered nine special stages on routed, SCX, Scalextric and Ninco tracks. The target times for each layout were around 60 seconds at a reasonable pace with no deslots - so that could be two laps of a long stage or six laps of a tiddler.

The Seaside was all SCX, flat as a pancake and designed to test how brave you could be on long, fast corners that began as R4 outer curves but tightened down into hairpins - and how quickly you could get on the gas coming back again.



Perhaps too eager to explore the lightning bolt performance of the SCX motor and enjoy its tail-happy cornering, I dropped the ball with it massively. The Scalextric car was smooth, whisper-quiet and sedate - but the tortoise pounded the hare into the ground.

Scalextric: 67.66 seconds
SCX 72.73 seconds

The Scenic stage was SCX track again, a long T-shape formed mostly from lots of S-bends that was crowned by Gareth's magnificent diorama-style loop. It was a hard stage to get wrong and saw both cars right on the limit: the SCX explosive, the Scalextric wafting round deceptively fast.



SCX: 62.27 seconds
Scalextric: 64.97 seconds

On to the routed tracks and the Car Park is a smooth, slippery mix of flat-out sweeps and twisty infield. I loved drifting on the throttle with both cars but I lost concentration after a couple of silly deslots with the SCX. The Scalextric brought forth another steady run to take a thumping victory.



Scalextric: 76.00 seconds
SCX: 98.89 seconds

I always judge a rally car on how it goes around the Mountain stage: a single-lane ribbon of Scalextric classic track that twists and turns through an elevation of about 3 feet. Predictably the Scalextric car had a nightmare coping - its shallow guide got levered out of the slot by its big wheels and low front air dam. No such problems for the SCX, despite its low nose - the advantage of its guide design.



SCX: 69.20 seconds
Scalextric: 87.60 seconds

Another classic Scalex layout was the Ken Block stage: a twisting post-industrial nightmare with a lumpy bridge and off-camber corner that put a strong premium on ground clearance. Both the Fiestas failed to make a clean run and therefore posted near-identical times.



Scalextric: 97.00 seconds
SCX: 97.03 seconds

The epic Circuits to Scale routed track brought fresh horrors in Farnham when Dave decided to run it in the opposite direction to normal. Yet while the 'pro' cars of MSC, Avant Slot and so on all shot off into the wrong lane (backwards) the two Fiestas both seemed to cope admirably&#8230; with the Scalextric car providing the shock of the day in getting below 60 seconds... only I didn't take a picture of it there, so here's the SCX one, with a pic of the Scalextric one on the Mountain stage just for fun...





Scalextric: 58.06 seconds
SCX: 63.56 seconds

The debate over using Ninco raid track is a feature of the SRGB series, and mischievously the Farnham crew built a stage called Ninco Bar which ran along in front of the beer pumps before plunging almost vertically to the floor and then climbing abck up again in a series of twisty bits. The Scalextric car disgraced itself, not least by finding a bump at a spot no marshals could reach. The SCX car, however, shrugged off the lunacy to record a mighty little effort.



SCX: 48.51 seconds
Scalextric: 107.66 seconds

Onward to the Blue Track, a lengthy stage of classic Scalex with its signature line of hump back bridges in a row. Remarkably the least-worst at coping with this little lot was the Scalextric car, regardless of its shallow guide, while the swifter SCX bounced hither and yon.



Scalextric: 78.42 seconds
SCX: 84.4 seconds

With the honours even, a flat but twisty Ninco stage would be the decider. Its layout rewarded low-end grunt and here the SCX car came into its own. This final test underlined the fact that Scalextric Fiesta neither accelerates nor brakes too effectively, and as a result put in a smooth and enjoyable run but lost out on the stopwatch. The SCX car was a real blast in every sense, and duly notched up another stage victory.



SCX: 69.17 seconds
Scalextric: 71.13 seconds

Overall Times:

SCX: 665.76 seconds - 29th in 4WD class
Scalextric: 708.5 seconds - 30th in 2WD class

A MINI Adventure

And what, I hear you ask, of the Scalextric vc. Scalextric competition between the Fiesta and Gareth's MINI?

Whenever we both got clean runs the MINI just shaded the Fiesta - six times in nine stages - but I think that's a reflection on the drivers. When things did go wrong for the MINI they were calamitous, dropping 35 seconds to the Fiesta on Circuits to Scale and resulting in victory by just over 16 seconds for the 'blue corner'.

Yes, the man behind Slot Rally GB finished last in class.


Gareth's findings were, like mine, that the Scalextric guide and front axle aren't suitable for open competition. Both he and Don Stanley, who entered another MINI that he had fettled for action prior to the event, reported that the MINI was very top-heavy. I didn't find that to be such a problem with the Fiesta, nor did I find the stock tyres to be too bad.

If I were to run a Scalextric car in slot rally competition I'd go all-out for light weight and take a low-detail Fiesta... provided it was legal to do so of course! That way you can chuck out the heavyweight full depth interior, redressing the top-heaviness somewhat, and then start to fettle the tyres.



Conclusions to follow...
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Conclusions



The tussle between the two cars was much closer than I had anticipated. Take them out of the Slot Rally GB environment and both cars reveal a lot of virtues that would make them great additions to your rally collection. Neither has any obvious vice in that respect. So what about the competitive side?

The SCX car is undoubtedly faster. Acceleration and braking are razor-sharp, the weight distribution is spot-on and the 4WD really does its job in what is a very entertaining car to drive. But it also shows up a talent deficit far better than the Scalextric car, with my ham-fisted trigger finger producing too many deslots.

I'd say that with proper fettling of the car and a decent driver, there's no reason why the SCX Fiesta can't compete in the top 10 of a Slot Rally GB event in the 4WD class. If the Ninco Raid track is to be abandoned in future then it could even get to the top 5.



By contrast the Scalextric car is slow to accelerate and doesn't have good brakes. It's taller and its tyres aren't the grippiest&#8230; but this is because Scalextric intends for its products to be run with the traction magnet in place. Considering how far from Scalextric's intended use we got on this event, I have to say that I'm impressed.

I only borrowed the Scalextric Fiesta that I ran at Farnham but it is going straight on my Christmas list. If it comes with a Mads Ostberg livery I'll be grateful! One thing about it which I really appreciate is that there's no fuss, nothing falls off and it actually exceeded my expectations&#8230; something which some 'specialist' cars have failed to do.



If ever you look at the class results of the Slot Rally GB events you will see that, of the major manufacturers, Ninco towers over the field in terms of performance. Yet there is no sign of Ninco producing one of the current generation of WRC cars. Playing devil's advocate, perhaps the smaller cars on today's WRC combined with Ninco's habitual over-scale width has seen prototypes wider than they are long?!

The VW Polo arrives next year, but you can bet your bottom dollar on a Carrera slot version of that one. I should imagine that the Carreras will be a good match for the Scalextric and SCX cars, but I look forward to testing that theory out! Perhaps a MINI shoot-out?!?

If you've read all this then, well&#8230; thanks! Hope it's been enjoyable and vaguely informative. Thanks also to Gareth for the loan of his Scalextric Fiesta and to all the Farnham crew for putting on a splendid event. Here's to much more slot rallying in future.

 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks Stooo,

I'm sure that there are all sorts of ways and means to get the Scalextric one to become a 4WD, or to build the Airfix kit to run when that comes out...

... or you could buy the SCX one!

Driver errors aside there's not much to choose between the different makes - certainly less than I ever thought there might be. I'd happily run them both for hours at home.

It's a bit of a different world up at the top of the order in Slot Rally GB, but you can have as much fun down at the blunt end of the field!
 

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Can you tell us more about new Airfix kit releases?

What and when? I do like a good kitbash!

 

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Awesome write-up! Thanks for giving us all a well thought out review from actual Slot Rally results. It is appreciated. I think 4wd is the deciding factor for me, but I look forward to future post of this nature in the future!


Thanks,
The Bane
 

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Great read. I must admit, the SCX is tempting. Very, very tempting.

Been feeling the need for a rally track for ages now. Reading this hasn't helped.

Cheers
Embs
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
QUOTE (The Bane @ 26 Sep 2012, 02:27) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>I look forward to future post of this nature in the future!


Thanks,
The Bane

Thanks, The Bane. You might be in a small minority there but glad you liked it. I'd love to give all the current WRCs a run like-for-like.

QUOTE (Ember @ 26 Sep 2012, 04:46) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Great read. I must admit, the SCX is tempting. Very, very tempting.

Been feeling the need for a rally track for ages now. Reading this hasn't helped.

Cheers
Embs

Embs, I'd love to see how you'd do a rally track. I imagine that there will be 'roo poo, railway lines to get over and details to take your breath away.

Personally, I'd buy as much from SCX as I can!
 
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