Getting the chance to look at new model before it hits the shelves is a lot of fun for me. Although sometimes the model in question does go through changes, we basically get a good idea of what is coming our way. When Dave Kennedy from Carrera of America decided to surprise us with a visit, the first thing I asked was if he planned on bringing the new 1/32nd scale McLaren with him. Of course he brought it and we had a chance to see what this new model was all about.
I have to admit though, to say that I was skeptical is an understatement as Carrera has not really impressed me in the last couple of years. It was either the lack of models I was interested in, or the ones I did purchase just did not run that well without a good amount of tuning. Fast forward to today. This model is one that many have high expectations for and I must say I think most of you will be happy. Perfect? No, of course not but for my eyes they did a better job than I expected in the scale department.
One of the first things I noticed was the overall stance. I was fearing the worst as Carrera has had a habit of making some models too tall or having wheels too large all for the sake of negotiating the tight banked turns they make. Not so here. In fact, on the back of the box is a sign indicating it is not suitable for the banking. Personally I am very pleased with this decision.
It is decently detailed for my eyes although at first the interior seems a little odd. This is due to the half tray interior and the design on the “legs” of our driver. Still, at speed it looks just fine.
Wheels and tires seem to look well enough and I was surprised on how round and true they were out of the box on our wood track. I cannot confirm this, but the compound on the rear of this car seems different. Perhaps it is just me but it felt a little softer than other Carrera models and they sanded rather easily.
Turning the model over we see the new chassis. It has magnets placed near the rear and middle of the car which should provide you with more than enough down-force. The standard polarity switch is here to allow you to change directions. The switch is very small recessed and will usually will take a screwdriver or other small object to flip it easily. The standard large guide is up front which is just fine by me. We have trimmed these blades shorter for tracks that have very tight corners and I like the depth. For those that need a smaller guide that is also narrow to avoid pinching, the new guide you can order Part# 85309 and it fits perfectly.
Finally it was time to find out how this effort by Carrera was going to run. Given that this is a digital model and we are analog, we simply placed the model on the track and pulled the trigger 3 times. This put it in analog mode and off we went. I can safely say almost all veterans of our hobby will be surprised. This model ran VERY well for straight out of the box on wood. My friend Tom along with Dave Kennedy had a blast racing this car. It has decent brakes which is not a strong Carrera trait and it had virtually no wheel hop.
Perfect? Again, no. But a far cry better than this reviewer expected. Since we had really nothing to compare it with at the time of this writing, for fun we broke out the older Vanquish models as adversaries. This was a very close race but advanced enthusiasts must remember these VMG models had after-market tires and a little tuning. Still, it was a very fun race.
Since this car is a pre-release we could not keep the model for advanced testing. I can imagine that with more time to tune and adjust it would be an even better performer.
It was the power this car had. This could not be the standard motor as it just felt better to me. It had crisp acceleration and like I stated, actually had decent braking. Although I could not do much as this model had to go to other clubs for testing, he did allow me to pop her open for a closer look.
And this was the biggest surprise. A slimline motor. I can tell you that I am not a fan of these motors, or at least the ones I have used from other makers. Usually, these motors are simply too high revving and too twitchy to be much good to a non magnet racer, or at least for me. Not here. This little motor is a gem. It is geared with an 8 tooth pinion driving the standard 27 tooth crown gear. All the electronics you see are for the digital portion of the car (which, if it were mine would be removed) and for the rear exhaust.
Another plus was the front wheels. Although I did not get a decent photo due to time constraints (and more of me playing than working) these front wheels are pretty good. Independent front stub axles have a bad reputation in our hobby as many are poorly executed. These are much better. There is still a touch of free-play, but nothing near what we are used to.
Yes, an odd addition for me is this “exhaust”. Although some will think it is neat, it really is hardly worth the effort. It can barely be seen while on the track and does not add any real appeal for my eyes. I think about the time and effort it took to make this and wonder how much money could have been saved by both Carrera and then the consumer without it.
So what do you think? It is not perfect but it does seem to show Carrera maybe heading down the right road. I do not like the fact it is digital only. This is a practice I feel does more harm than good. I do not like things being forced upon me just for the sake of a certain livery. Yes, there will be standard analog models, but if you want this particular paint scheme you must buy the digital car. Having that added expense placed on analog racers just does not seem fair.
On the other hand…the current retail advertised for this car is $49.99. The analog versions are $10.00 less. Even at the digital price, that is about what I am paying for other brands of standard models, in fact much less than a couple brands. So if I really want this model, I am not really paying that much of a premium.
Which also brings to light how affordable analog Carrera models are. The analog versions of the M20 (Yellow #5) and the Porsche 917/30 advertised for pre-order for $39.99 I certainly think this is a great price point. As other companies continue to raise prices, it is refreshing to see models in our scale priced like this.
I think this series has more going for it that some of us expected. I know I was surprised. With other models planned in the future, this just might be the Can-Am series many of us have waited for. Time will tell of course, but this first model did impress me and has put Carrera back on my hit list.
This review was provided by Harry Wise at Home Racing World and was sponsored by Carrera of America. http://www.homeracingworld.com/carreram20.htm