The Lightning EPX Drift from Redcat Racing is a hobby-grade RC car with a stylish design and special wheels that, as its name implies, allow the vehicle to drift when turning. While this provides no practical benefit and actually hampers both its handling and speed, it makes the Lightning a car that you can use to perform maneuvers that no other type of RC vehicle can.
As an RC drift car, the Lightning doesn't provide performance in the same way as other remote control cars. The best RC cars typically provide the utmost in speed, handling and terrain versatility, but the Lightning provides none of these things. Instead, all of its components center on one feature: drifting.
It does this with special tires that are hard and relatively slick. As you might have guessed, this makes gaining traction difficult, even when you're not drifting. For this reason, the Lightning has a relatively low top speed. While its speeds may increase as the motor breaks in, we clocked it at 11 mph. Redcat Racing quotes its top speed at 15 mph.
Handling is also much different from usual with the Lightning EPX. At high speeds, almost any adjustment in the car's direction initiates some sort of drift. This was frustrating at first in our tests, but as we grew more accustomed to the vehicle, handling became easier.
These factors may seem more like blows than benefits in the car's ability, but high speeds and tight, snappy handling were never the focus of this vehicle. Redcat Racing would undoubtedly be the first to make another recommendation if those are the features you seek. Drifting, however, opens an entirely different way to experience on-road RC vehicles.
While driving the Lightning isn't exactly easy at first, it's great for those who appreciate a challenge. Rather than simply running your car around as fast as you can, the driving experience becomes more about finesse and skill. This may not sound appealing to everyone, but we found driving the drift car a dynamic and engaging experience. In addition to drifting around corners, the Lightning allows you to perform spins and tricks, unleashing your creativity in a way that you may not encounter with simpler RC cars.
As a slick, on-road vehicle, the Lightning EPX Drift is not as durable as its rugged, off-road counterparts. Being much lower to the ground, the chassis of the vehicle, rather than its wheels, bears the brunt of most crashing. In addition to this, its suspension cannot absorb the same levels of shock that off-road vehicles can, so any jumps or falls are going to take a more significant toll on the internal components of the vehicle. In other words, this just isn't a car that you're going to want to frequently crash or launch off ramps.
The remote control is essentially the same as you'd find with almost any hobby-grade vehicle: a 2.4GHz pistol transmitter with proportional control. This type of control is the most sensitive, but it's also the most precise. This combined with the relatively difficult handling makes the Lightning more suited for older hobbyists.
Redcat Racing backs up the Lightning EXP Drift with a 90-day warranty, phone and email support, a user forum and access to replacement parts. Although its warranty may seem short, it is one of the longest warranties offered for hobby-grade remote control cars. With the abuse they take, RC cars are rarely warrantied for more than a month after purchase.
The Redcat Racing Lightning EPX Drift is a very specialized vehicle. It doesn't offer any of the conventional hallmarks of a high-performance RC car, but it is high-performance in its own way. True, you can't reach high speeds or make quick, agile maneuvers, but the Lightning offers a challenge to RC enthusiasts and a unique driving experience that you simply can't achieve with traditional RC vehicles.