Kyosho Mini-Z Drift cars reviewed : R33 GT-R Skyline MA020

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Kyosho Mini Z Drift cars review Skyline R33 parked by cones rear low
Buy a Kyosho Mini-Z drift car right now!

1/10th scale drift cars are very cool, but how many of us have the space for a dedicated track to rip around? Kyosho potentially have the solution for indoor drifting with their small scale Mini-Z Sports Drift models. Having taken a look at the range available in a previous article, we un-box a Skyline and go drifting!

Mini-Z Drift at a glance

  • Newly developed Drift configured AWD Sports chassis
  • Drift tyres as standard
  • 2.4GHz Perfex KT-19 transmitter
  • Coil spring on front suspension, strut-type rear suspension.
  • Detailed Pre-painted factory assembled plastic body
  • Spare pinion gears, spur gears and tools for your own tweaking
  • Includes mini plastic cones to drift around
  • Measures 16cm long, 7cm wide and weighs just 190g without batteries

What’s in the box?

In the box you get the MA020 Sports AWD chassis, R33 GT-R Skyline body and a KT-19 Perfex transmitter.

Kyosho Mini Z Drift cars review Skyline R33 unboxed

Kyosho also include a pairing stick, wheel wrench, 20 (slightly too large) plastic cones, replacement pinion gear set, alternate motor holders, spare wheel nuts, suspension ‘limiters’, spur gear, battery holder and a pinion & motor tool

Kyosho Mini Z Drift cars review Skyline R33 spares

This is alongside a suitably Mini, multi-lingual manual. Kyosho include detailed documentation with all their models that is beautifully illustrated. It goes into great detail on how to dismantle the chassis and swap out the included spares.

Batteries not included

As mentioned in our previous article, the Mini-Z cars require AAA batteries. You will need four for the car itself and four for the transmitter.

We’d recommend picking up some 1000mAh rechargeable ones and a suitable charger to save both your wallet and environment.

Incredible die-cast level body detail

Despite being just 16cm long, Kyosho have done an incredible job on the included body. The detail on this bright silver V.Spec Nissan R33 GT-R Skyline is fantastic from the large rear wing to the chromed exhaust tips; Just take a look at the photos below!

The windows are heavily tinted, the headlight and brake light clusters are translucent (more on that later), the badges on the grill and tailgate are relief, tiny detailed stickers adorn the wings and vanity plates. We feel these cars have die-cast levels of detail, meaning they look great just sat on the desk even when you aren’t playing with them.

Uniquely styled transmitter included

Whilst the curves and colour choices (right down to the blue power led) make it look like its from the early 90’s the KT-19 PERFEX transmitter is actually a great unit. It is very comfortable to use thanks to its ergonomic shape and soft-rubber finished steering wheel.

Kyosho Mini Z Drift cars review Skyline R33 Transmitter wide

It includes steering dual rate and steering trim dials for fine adjustment, plus a dial for remotely operating the (optional) light kit. The firm rubber antenna can be laid down for ease of storage. The car comes paired to the transmitter but a pairing ‘stick’ is provided alongside detailed pairing instructions in the manual.

A USB port labelled charge seems to be a legacy item as the manual states that it is not used on this kit. It is a 2.4Ghz transmitter with frequency hopping tech so you shouldn’t have any interference issues when racing with others. Its worth noting that Kyosho state these AWD Sports range chassis aren’t compatible with the high-end Syncro EX-6 transmitters, before you get tempted to put £300+ down on one!

Drift tyres fitted as standard

The plastic drift tyres mounted are suitable for smooth tarmac as well as indoor hard floors. Forget trying to drift the model on a carpet with any thick pile as the mix of low traction/ground clearance will make it difficult.

Kyosho Mini Z Drift cars review Skyline R33 autocross cones included rear low

The twin-spoke wheels have a 1.5mm offset and are held on by a simple nylon nut. The included MDT001 tyre set are the ‘N’ type with 8.5mm width. These can be removed from the rims and be replaced, should you want to convert the car for grip racing.

AWD Chassis

This MA020S-N chassis arrives in the ‘shortest’ of the ‘long’ wheelbases at 94mm (but can supposedly be shrunk to 90mm) and a chassis width of 68mm.

Kyosho Mini Z Drift cars review Skyline R33 batteries installed chassis side

The front and rear differentials are linked via a small shaft drive, running low in the chassis to the 130-class mid-mounted motor.

Kyosho Mini Z Drift cars review Skyline R33 batteries chassis top down

The chassis has a port for an LED kit and also has a port for an optional gyro unit that can assist with counter-steering for easier drifting.

Impressive Adjustability

For something so small, the level of adjustability is something else. The included manual goes into great detail about how to install the included parts and is well worth a read even before buying it. The exploded diagrams near the back are especially useful for working on the car.

Kyosho Mini Z Drift cars review Skyline R33 batteries chassis three quarter

For the most part you can work on the car with just a small Philips head screwdriver. The manual goes into great detail on how the front suspension can be disassembled and how inserting the included suspension limiter will alter the ride height and the suspension stroke, presumably making the ride harder.

The wheels are simple to remove thanks to the included wheel wrench. Note they are keyed onto the axle so be careful when refitting them. The gearing can be altered with the included cogs. From the factory the car is setup with motor mount 1, a 15T pinion and a 31T spur gear.

Kyosho Mini-Z Drift cars review MA020 motor mount configurations

You can swap these around as shown in the table above for a higher top speed at the cost of run-time. As mentioned you can shorten the chassis length but ensure you swap out the spur gear for the relevant shorter model otherwise you wont get the back end on again!

Optional Parts

The included optional parts flyer is the ultimate christmas list. In our experience no one ‘does’ hop-ups quite like the Japanese manufacturers do! Performance orientated parts include as replacement springs, aluminium pinion gears and motor mount plates, solid axles, aluminium shock mounts anti-roll bar sets, camber knuckles. Replacement multispoke wheels and even some licensed Rays TE37 wheels (including coloured wheel nuts) are available as are many different tyre compounds and tread styles.

Midnight Club : LED Kit for night-time racing

Included in this particular model was Kyosho’s optional LED kit. It consists of a page of instructions and a wiring harness with a small JST plug on one and and four individual LED’s on the other. Two light up white for the headlights and two light up red for the brakes (denoted by the red heatshrink around them). To fit you pop out the LED blanks in the back of the clusters and stick these LED bulbs in, before connecting them to the header on the chassis.

As the kit only includes 4 bulbs (whilst there are eight light ‘pods’ on the shell of the R33) we opted to fit them to the outer holes, leaving the blanks in the inner ones; You can see the resulting difference in intensity in the photos below. The lights will only shine when throttle or brake inputs are given to the car, which is a bit of a shame.

When fitted the ‘lights’ dial on the transmitter can be rotated to change the way they light up. All the way to the left and they appear solid under power, whilst rotating to the right will make the headlights flicker in varying amounts for that strobe effect popular on drift cars.

Drifting the skyline

To turn on the car, first press the power button to the right of the steering wheel on the transmitter. Then flip the car over and flick the power switch adjacent to the warning sticker (there is no need to remove the body).

Kyosho Mini Z Drift cars review Skyline R33 batteries chassis underside power switch

The steering is quick, the motor responsive (thanks to that minimal mass). Overall we found the models to be pretty zippy, if yours seems slow first check the batteries, then refer to the ‘training mode’ in the manual (this mode is included for beginners looking to get to grips with the controls).

The manual actually has some ‘drifting tips‘ with examples of simple circuits/exercises that you can follow using the supplied cones as markers. These help you get a feel for how the car performs for initiating a slide and holding it.

Mini-Z : Our take on scale drifting

Kyosho have provided a great ready-to-run package here. The chassis has great balance and enough power to learn the essentials of drifting.

Kyosho Mini Z Drift cars review Skyline R33 parked in bay

Unless you have a clean, beautifully smooth freshly laid tarmac space to play with, you will probably have more fun drifting indoors. With minimal ground clearance any small stones can end up beaching the cars! Our favourite drift ‘medium’ was actually the short pile carpet in the office. It offered just enough traction for the front end to grip and nose the car out of slides.

The steering speed feels a little fast, but probably due to the tiny size of the vehicle! The motor is easily powerful enough to break traction and send the little Skyline sliding across the floor.

As with any drift car, it takes a while to get used to the chassis balance and master any sort of transition. Thankfully the transmitter has fine throttle control allowing you to balance the car in a slide. On a wooden laminate floor this was especially complex but ultimately rewarding when you get it right!

Who are the Mini-Z drift cars for?

People who love the die-cast levels of scale on the bodies. Why settle for a static model on your desk or shelf when you can have one you can actually drive! Those with space limitations, for example those living in apartments without the space needed to slide a larger drift model.

Die-hard RC Drift fans. We all know someone with a fleet of 1/10th scale chassis with various levels of hop-ups. This offers them something very different but at a quality they will likely appreciate.

Kyosho Mini Z Drift cars review Skyline R33 driving past line of cones front

As difficult as the initial price might be to swallow, there are few quality alternatives at this scale. If you are happy to forego a traditional transmitter and use your smartphone to drive, check out Sturmkind’s Dr!ft setup!

Where can I buy these Mini-Z drift cars?

The Kyosho Mini-Z MA020 4WD R33 GTR is available on our webstore now in silver as pictured, or a rather awesome midnight purple. Remember that you will also need a total of eight AAA batteries to get the car running.

Kyosho Mini-z range rwd awd overview introduction AWD in stock models

Alongside the R33 we also sell a few other MA020 drift chassis. A R32 Nissan Skyline in the classic gunmetal grey, a 4WD (presumably some sort of aftermarket conversion) Mazda RX7 in black, a Mitsubishi Evo X in blue and white as well as a late-model Subaru WRX STI in blue. Both the R32 and R33 Skylines come with the LED kit too. You can browse them all here.

RC Geeks : Drift Enthusiasts

If you like small scale but not the drifting, see our article on the other models in the Kyosho Mini-z range. We have a whole host of drift related content on our blog that might be of interest. For more small-scale drifting, see the Sturmkind app-controlled desktop drift car review.

Kyosho Mini Z Drift cars review Skyline R33 parked by cones rear low wide

Want us to review something specific? Perhaps there a comparable mini-drift car that we have missed out? Leave us a message in the comments section below!

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