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These days we are spoilt for choice with RC cars. the market is flooded with models promising quality suspension and incredible power trains (on paper at least) for comparatively cost, yet fall short of their promises in practice. Thankfully every so often we come across a real gem that withstands our extreme test driving, exceeds our expectations and simply must be shared. So lets take a look at how the FTX Outlaw Ultra-4 brushless buggy became our October 2019 car of the month!
The Outlaw ultra-4 arrives factory built and ready-to-run. Included alongside the model is an Etronix sport 2.4Ghz transmitter, bind plug, a Voltz 3250mAh 2S (7.4v 25C) hardcase Lipo battery and balance charger with power lead. The balance charger is a simple plug and play unit that takes just 3.5 hours to fully recharge the battery.
FTX also include a manual detailing configuration of the car and radio gear. All that is needed to get the car running is 8x AA batteries for the transmitter. Before driving, ensure you have removed the cable tie holding the rear suspension in compression.
For such a reasonable retail price, the Outlaw has plenty to shout about, lets break it down.
Held on by four clips, the body can be lifted clear of the posts. It is a tubular roll-cage design consisting of solid plastic moulded tubes that run front to back, down the sides of the model and creating a cockpit.
The body wraps around the front of the cage, with a separate cockpit pieces complete with moulded plastic helmet driver detail. A flat lexan roof panel on top finishes the raw competition off-road look. Mounted at the rear with a long hex bolt is a fully-functional spare wheel.
Using a 2mm hex driver, these panels and cockpit can be removed leaving what we feel is an awesome mad-max looking cage monster, with all the electronics on show.
With the body removed we can see the detail that has gone into this chassis. Aluminium-bodied big-bore adjustable shocks sit at each corner, the rears featuring huge amounts of travel. Oil-filled they are a tad under- dampened in our opinion but make for some entertaining handling.
In conjunction with a trailing arm rear link design there is plenty of droop and travel in the setup, making it an ideal chassis for cross country racing, just check the images below.
Mid-mounted, the brushless 60 Amp Etronix waterproof ESC (with top mounted fan and external capacitors) is foam-taped on top of the transmission housing. A programmable unit, you will need an optional programming card/interface to adjust the throttle limit, motor timing, running mode, drag braking and more. In use the little fan screams away keeping a steady stream of air over that heat sink. Terminated with a deans connector on the long battery lead, that 2S/3S compatible ESC allows for flexibility in your battery selection.
The power switch sits atop of the receiver box at the rear right of the chassis plate behind the 3kg steering servo. With some practice you can reach in and flick this on or off without removing the body. Offset to the left of the chassis is the 2950kv brushless motor, its metal can finished in a metallic blue.
We particularly like the access to the battery. With the body mounted in place it is possible to plug and unplug the power cable, release the rear battery velcro strap and even squeeze it out.
Most of the off-road buggies we see feature a traditional tub chassis with independent suspension all round. The outlaw changes it up, hanging that rear diff on the solid rear axle on adjustable trailing arms like Kyosho's truck of the same name. Further to this a scissor style hinge connects to the rear mounts, sat high on those long-travel shocks. Adjustable turnbuckles and more shock/arm mounting points than you will know what to do with allow for droop, camber and toe-in to be adjusted.
The plastic prop shaft runs out of the central diff to the rear axle where it mounts to an offset rear diff. This, combined with the apparently softer set rear dampers results in a twisting torque-effect across the chassis in hard acceleration.
Like most of the FTX models, the Outlaw includes a 3-channel Etronix sport radio set. This beast of a controller has reverse switches and trim adjustments for throttle and steering channels as well as a dual rate adjustment for the steering. These plus the bind button and power switch can be found under the hinged lid atop of the controller. If you are unfamiliar with these terms, check our short transmitter guide article.
The main downside is that this relatively old transmitter runs on 12v power, requiring a staggering 8xAA batteries to run it. You can remove the battery tray but you will need to custom solder a JST connector on if you want to run a NiMH pack.
First impressions? This buggy is WILD. We can't remember the last time we had this much fun with a relatively budget model!
With the stock 2S LiPo battery we logged a top speed of 26mph with our GPS enabled GoPro onboard. As the ESC will accept a 3S LiPo it seemed rude not to throw a 3S Overlander 4500 55C hardcase LiPo into the tray. We were astonished when the same buggy topped out at an impressive 42mph!
On 2S the buggy will pull wheelies on high-friction surfaces and will even cock one of its front wheels in the air (twisting under the torque) when you hit the gas on loose dirt.
As you can gather from the top speed runs, plugging in a 3S battery transforms it into a different beast. Full throttle standing starts will result in backflips off the line. Our top speed tests required gentle, gradual throttle application to keep the front end on the ground, even then the front tyres struggled to stay on the ground, even with the GoPro strapped to the nose as a counterweight.
With good ground clearance, quality suspension and all that power on tap, this buggy is a hoot off -road. You can attack a tree-root littered forest floor, sliding on the pine needles and skipping off of stumps for a good 20 minutes thanks to that reasonably capacious battery.
The short hangovers really help when it comes to climbing over obstacles, the front tyres lifting the nose before it grounds out. The body's tubular bars mean you can confidently slide the chassis over logs and rocks, safe in the knowledge that you aren't going to tear the shell off.
Note that as standard the drag brake is disabled in the ESC, meaning slow controlled crawling isn't really possible. The only thing that really holds it back are the tyres. They are fine for sliding around on grass, gravel and hard packed mud, but on loose dirt, or damp surfaces they really struggle to bite into the terrain with those open differentials.
To protect the body panels (and because we thought it looked rad) we stripped the buggy down before heading to a new pump-track to test out the jump capabilities of the Outlaw.
The transmitter isn't the most responsive, but the ESC makes up for it, quickly delivering big bursts of power as you crest jumps, sending the buggy skyward. We were 'airing it out' consistantly with just the 2S battery and could reliably trim its attitude in the air on the throttle.
We were really impressed at how well that long-travel rear end shrugged off some particularly savage landings. Despite our best efforts across two batteries the little buggy bravely continued on with no breakages, which considering our driving is somewhat of a miracle.
As mentioned before the Outlaw loves to cock a wheel under sudden acceleration. This was most apparent on the freshly tarmac'd apron at the pump track and with a touch of steering angle you can even get it to dance.
This isn't just present on high-grip surfaces, it will cock a wheel even on dirt and gravel. The resulting torque steer effect can make accurately racing around a track a little tricky, especially if you reach for a 3S battery.
The issue is that a dab of brakes will force those tyres back down at an angle, transferring harsh loads through the steering system, across that saver and into the servo; Note the deformation in the sticky tyres in the below photo!
The real entertainment is had on a loose surface such as the chippings found on park footpaths. Whilst there is too much front-end push for consistent donuts, powerslides out of turns are easy to perform again and again.
In short, the Outlaw Ultra-4 Brushless Buggy is for everyone who likes going fast and loose off-road. The increased ground clearance over the similarly priced (but slower and with only 2WD) BSD Racing Flux Storm V2 offers the flexibility to drive it wherever you want.
Bear in mind that even with the stock battery, this buggy is far too fast for an unsupervised child, even with the throttle rate dialled right down. If you are looking for a model for a young teenager consider picking up the brushed outlaw instead.
If you value your drive-train, we'd avoid extended runs on 3S power. The added load it puts through the spur and transmission will dramatically increase wear rates, eventually ending in tears.
In terms of upgrades or changes, well we would look into a better way of securing the ESC, which you might notice tried to make an exit out of the stripped out cage. Whilst the weedy 3kg steering servo somehow surivived our relentless abuse (perhaps this is finally a servo saver that really works?) we would look at upgrading it to a metal geared model, if not something with more torque.
The FTX Outlaw Ultra-4 Brushless Buggy is available on our webstore including free next-working-day delivery! If you love the aesthetic but can't quite stretch your budget, try the Brushed Outlaw Buggy, but we really do feel the 30% hike is worth it for more than that in performance increase, especially if you stick a 3S LiPo into it!
Utilising the common deans connector, we have a whole stack of 2S and 3S batteries available for the Outlaw. If you are looking for a faster charger to get you back out and driving again, check our battery charging guide for information and recommendations for chargers.