Nikko Pro Class Mini Cooper 1/24th scale
Street Price: $34.99 US
Mfgr's recommended min. age: 6+
Our recommended age range: 5 to adult
Primary use: Indoors
- Partially assembled car
- Extra set of tires & wheel caps
- Sprint motor assembly
- One 9V battery for the transmitter
- 3 AA batteries for the car
When I went to test this car, I had some seriously mixed up expectations. First, the other Pro Class (or "Evolution" as they sometimes call it) Nikko I tested, the 1/14th scale Lamborghini Murcielago, was one of the best toy-class RC cars I'd ever seen. Second, the other micro Nikko I tested that is built on this same chassis platform, the Fast & The Furious Veilside RX-7 (actually called "1/22nd scale"), wasn't all that hot. Was the "Pro Class" name going to make the difference? I couldn't tell from the outside.
Typical Nikko fare, the vehicle looks great. It's a pretty accurate scale representation of the real thing, down to the small pieces of trim like the chrome accents and the side blinker lights. Even the wheels are correct. Underneath, though, again, it was that familiar chassis from that RX-7, and I didn't notice any improvements. The controller was the same (weak) too.
One thing that sets the Pro Class car apart is that it comes with a choice of two sets of wheel caps, two sets of real rubber tires (one normal treaded set and one super-soft, slick racing set), and my favorite part, an extra motor assembly that's supposed to make it go faster.
Preparing to Drive
The first thing you want to do out of the box is choose your starting upgrades. I actually began with the basic motor set (shown below) and the normal street tires (shown above). There's also a sticker sheet that gives you choices for different roof designs. After all that is settled, you just need to put your batteries in, and you're ready to go.
With regular tires, and the stock motor, the car drove just like the RX-7, though for some reason it looked a little cooler (more realistic, slightly larger body?). Speed was just "okay." Handling was neutral; predictable, but probably not fun enough to keep a kid who's really into cars entertained for a long time.
OK, next up I installed the Sprint motor. To do this, you remove two screws from the bottom that hold in a little plastic bracket, then the whole motor & axle assembly drops down, and you unplug it from the power wires (the plug is safe -- don't worry about electrocution). Reverse the process and swap or upgrade your tires, and you're done. Now, with the new motor, the car really came alive. It's only supposed to be about 20% faster, but it had a lot more accelerating power and the extra top speed was noticeable too. This gave me a chance to push the handling of the car a bit more, and it showed that it really is designed to work with the extra power. Lots of fun!
For final kicks, I went ahead & tried on the drift tires from the Fast & The Furious set, putting the slower motor back in at the same time. It was great! It actually drifts longer and more controllably than the "drift" RX-7! There's something about the height of the body that makes the weight shift better or something, but whatever it is, it works!
Oh, I also tried the racing slicks to see how they'd perform. Driving on linoleum, they didn't seem to really make much of a difference, though it was a little harder to whip the back end of the car around in turns by tapping reverse. I think these tires are a little more sticky, which makes it harder for the car to spin out. You might want to experiment with slick tires on the front so that it turns the best possible, but treaded tires on the rear so you can cut really close corners when you want.
I took videos of the car in with all three setups. Here's the basic motor and normal tires:
Now, here's how it drives with the Sprint motor:
Finally, check it out in drift form:
It's amazing what a difference just one upgrade can make. The only thing holding this car back now is the lame controller. Combine the power of the Sprint motor with the really nice styling and reasonable price, and it gets my stamp of approval.