Adam holds a Bachelor's and a Master's degree in Linguistics, and creative writing has always been his greatest passion. For more than 25 years he's been working for several well-known automobile and travel magazines as an editor and expert consultant, but when Adam started his writing path here, at WisePick, it turned out that he's capable of writing practically anything about everything.
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Last updated: July 11, 2021
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If you’re a fan of cars, there are few things more fun than a remote control (RC) drift car. These tiny vehicles are perfect as a relaxing hobby for car enthusiasts, since they empower you to drive a car recklessly without any of the danger that comes with a real car. The best RC drift car also makes a great gift for friends and coworkers, or can be a great toy for kids to introduce them to cars and electronics.
In order to find the best RC drift car on the market, we looked through a number of features that differentiate the models. We looked at the radio system, which determines how well the remote controls work, as well as the motor type and maximum speed of the cars, since this is critical for drifting. We also looked at the model scale, which can be as important as the car’s mechanics for true car enthusiasts, and the length of time the car can be used for before it needs to be recharged.
We spent tens of hours poring over technical specifications and customer reviews of popular RC drift cars, and the result is the table of the four best cars on the market today. Continue reading for detailed reviews of each of the cars, complete with pros and cons. Our buying guide then covers everything you need to know about purchasing an RC drift car, from why to get one to what features to look for. Finally, we sum up our three favorite drift cars and announce our overall top pick.
Users rave about this lightning fast RC drift car from Redcat Racing, which has many of the high-end features found on top of the line drift cars for a fraction of the price. The car keeps weight down by incorporating a vinyl polycarbonate shell and lightweight plastic – rather than aluminum – rims, although users note that the rims ding easily if the car collides with anything. The aerodynamics are also helped by the extremely low clearance, which can be adjusted thanks to the aluminum-capped oil-filled shocks and the independent suspension system.
Although the car comes with a 4-wheel drive system, which adds a slight amount of control when turning, it is not a car that you will want to take off-pavement because of the extremely low clearance and relatively flimsy rims. However, the transmission operates in both forward and reverse so it is relatively straightforward to back the car out of any trouble that you find yourself in.
The brushed motor makes this car easier to control than it otherwise would be, but note that because of the high top speed and fast acceleration it is not necessarily the best car for newcomers to RC drift cars. What users loved best about this car is that it requires few upgrades out of the box. The tires can be switched up to improve performance when drifting versus straight road driving, but otherwise the battery, motor, and controller are extremely powerful compared to other RC drift cars on the market. Note, however, that the battery takes several hours to fully charge, so it is well worth purchasing a spare battery to pop into the car, and that the controller requires a whopping eight AA batteries to operate. The most significant upgrades users reported were swapping out pieces for aluminum components, which added weight but improved the durability of the car. All in all, this is a great little RC car under $200.
Why is it special?
23 mph top speed out of the box
Brushed motor and 4-wheel drive improve control
Excellent price for high-end features
What are the flaws?
Many parts can be upgraded to aluminum for durability
This is a powerful RC car designed specifically for on-road drifting and, although it comes at a higher price than the Redcat Racing car, it provides many high-end features that users love. The car is capable of driving at up to 15 mph out of the box, which is extremely impressive given the added weight of the many aluminum parts. The wheels in particular come with solid compound drift tires on high-performance rims that are relatively durable in the event of crashes, and also add speed and control when drifting. The large front foam bumper also helps to protect the car in case of a frontal collision.
The car has a low clearance – 4.5 mm – but it is not so low to the ground as to prevent off-road driving, which is where the 4-wheel drive system can come in quite handy. The car is also highly adjustable thanks to the ability to control the camber, toe-in, and body level, among other customizations. The suspension is also highly stable with well-built shock towers over the front and rear wheels.
What sets this car apart from its competitors is the RC540 motor, which is an extremely powerful brushed motor that also offers excellent control. The car comes with complete ball bearings – an expensive upgrade on competing vehicles – that improve the efficiency of power transfer from the motor to the wheels. The battery can also be quickly changed out and charges within approximately 2-3 hours, making it easier to keep this car running for longer compared to many other RC drift cars.
Overall, this car is a terrific choice for newcomers to RC drift cars, despite the moderate price, due to the combination of control, durable construction, and upgraded parts out of the box.
This RC drift car from Exceed is best described as an entry-level drift car at a moderate price, but the room for upgrades it provides allows you to grow the car as your experience and interest level increase. The car has a powerful KV 3300 brushless motor, which explains the price of this car relative to the rest of the components it comes with. The motor is arguably the best feature of this car, since it allows you to upgrade the rest of the car around it while the motor is sure to last for years to come and provide a huge amount of acceleration when using the car for drifting. The car also has a 4-wheel drive system, which improves handling – both when drifting and when driving off-road.
The body of this car is relatively lightweight, but users note that it can dent easily if using the car on bumpy roads or on dirt. That said, the lightweight design improves acceleration and makes the car easier to control when drifting, as it carries less momentum into the turn. The stable suspension system and complete ball bearings also help to make the car more efficient and easier to control throughout the driving experience.
Where the car falls short out-of-the-box is in the wheels. The rims are cheap plastic rather than aluminum and are not on par with the rest of the car. For this reason, the car is limited to around 5 mph out of the box but can jump to 15 mph with a set of upgraded drifting wheels. Users also noted that the radio transmitter provided a relatively weak signal, which can be annoying if you plan to use the car outside rather than in close quarters on an indoor track.
This modestly priced RC drift car from FSTgo is an excellent choice for those on a budget, whether newcomers to drift cars or those looking for an inexpensive – but unique – gift in the form of an RC car under $100. Unlike the other cars we reviewed, which are 1:10 scale models, this car is a significantly smaller 1:12 scale model car. As a result, the car is lighter, but also contains a smaller motor and so travels at a maximum speed of only 16 mph out of the box. Unlike the other cars we reviewed, this car uses only 2-wheel drive rather than 4-wheel drive – although this is not a problem for anyone planning to use the car on pavement or an indoor track, rather than off-road.
Control in the car is provided primarily by the S-Truck suspension technology, which goes a long way towards improving handling given the lack of a 4-wheel drive system. Although the manufacturer does not describe the motor that comes with the car, based on the price it is presumably a brushed-style motor – which also helps with control when drifting. Users note that the motor is sufficiently powerful for the car to accelerate quickly to drifting speed.
One of the major advantages to this car is that FSTgo promises a full refund for your purchase within the first 30 days if you are not happy after using the car. They also offer one free replacement within the first year in case any of the components fail, although users rarely report any issues with the car.
Where the car falls somewhat short is in the battery, which provides less than 15 minutes of use time. Although a replacement battery can be purchased, the battery can get quite hot after operating the car continuously.
What are its best features?
S-Truck suspension technology improves handling
Refund within 30 days, replacement within one year
This is a great looking RC drift car with a lot of features which are positive for remote-controlled cars and allow you to use it in all sorts of conditions.
The waterproof electronics mean you can use this outdoors and not have to worry about the weather.
The four-wheel drive and oil-filled shocks contribute to a smooth feel, and the transmission having both forward and reverse capability means you shouldn’t have to use your hands to move your car when you get stuck.
This comes with a built-in battery which is a 7.2V 2100mAh NiMH model. This gives it up to 15 minutes of use according to the manufacturer on one charge, realistically, we found that around 10 minutes is a more realistic expectation.
This car looks great and is available in two different colors. It is ready to run out of the box so no complex setup is required. It is great for beginners and seasoned RC car users alike.
This excellent design of 1:10 scale RC drift car features a brushless motor which is designed to be more efficient and long-lasting. The battery outperforms many of the other motors at this price point.
The clever design has been created with drifting in mind, as well as having a clever low center of gravity, it has a foam bumper which is designed to protect the car while drifting. The upper deck, center drive and motor mount are all made out of CNC aluminum.
3KG Torque steering feels great when drifting. It is easy to steer and has a reliable radio system.
If you’re a sucker for the detail of a design, this model might be one that you find very exciting, even tiny detail is present meaning this looks realistic in spite of being scaled down. The Exceed RC MadSpeed Drift King offers good value-for-money.
What makes it stand out?
Has a foam bumper which is great for drifting
Brushless motor is more efficient than some other motors
Which disadvantages must you keep in mind?
Battery connection can come loose over time
Things to Consider
Now that you’ve learned more about our four favorite RC drift cars currently on the market, how do you choose between them to find the drift car that is right for you? There are a huge variety of components and features that go into each individual drift car, so our Buying Guide will cover the most salient features that you need to understand. In addition, our Frequently Asked Questions section will answer some of the common questions that we receive from people who are new to RC drift cars.
Reasons to buy an RC drift car
There are a huge number of reasons to buy an RC drift car! RC drift cars can be the basis of a relaxing and fun hobby to take your mind off of work. Especially for car enthusiasts and model builders, the customizability of model cars can be a ton of fun and turn racing drift cars into a project that keeps you busy on and off the track. For the same reasons, an RC drift car is a great gift for friends, family, and coworkers – especially if you already know they enjoy cars or racing. RC drift cars can also be a fun hobby to enjoy with your kids, since many children tremendously enjoy playing with remote-controlled cars. If you are on the lookout for a great present for an RC-enthusiast or for your kids, also add an RC helicopter and an RC buggy to your list of ideas.
Features to consider when choosing an RC drift car
There are a huge number of features that differentiate RC drift cars from one another, since everything from the motor, to the body, to the remote controller itself has to be designed from scratch for each car. This section will help you understand what features to look for and what they mean when choosing an RC drift car.
The vast majority of RC drift cars on the market today come with a 2.4 GHz radio transmitter, a robust system that can be used in the presence of other 2.4 GHz transmitters without interference – which is important if you plan to play with your drift car in the presence of other cars.
The range of these transmitters can vary depending on the length of the antenna in the controller and in the car itself – cars like the one made by Exceed boast an extended range of up to 80 meters, although this may not be necessary if you are operating the car primarily on a small, enclosed track. Note that the transmitter typically requires AA or AAA batteries that are not included when you purchase a car.
When thinking about the radio system, it is also important to look at the controller itself. Is it easy to hold in your hands and are all the controls easy to access with your thumbs? Having a controller that is easy to use can make a big difference in your ability to drive your car – split-second movements of the controller can make or break a drift.
When it comes to RC drift cars, faster is typically considered better – and more fun! The speed of drift cars varies significantly between models and depends on everything from the motor to the drive system to the aerodynamics of the car body to the wheels and driving surface. Cars such as the one made by Exceed can reach moderate speeds of 15 mph, while cars like the one from Redcat Racing can whip by at a higher speed of up to 23 mph.
Depending on the car, it is also possible to modify some of the components, such as the wheels, to reduce the weight of the car or decrease rolling resistance to improve the top speed.
The motors found on RC cars can be divided into brushed and brushless motors. A brushed motor uses traditional DC power and uses a piece of material to deliver a current to the motor. These types of motors are typically less expensive than brushless motors, but also produce more noise and cannot produce as much acceleration when drifting. However, they are easier to control during a drift, which, combined with the more modest price, makes them best for newcomers to RC drift cars.
Brushless motors, on the other hand, don’t contact the motor directly and don’t wear out over time like a brushed motor, but are also significantly more expensive upfront. These motors can provide a huge amount of acceleration through a drift as well, which makes them harder to control and better for experienced RC drift car controllers.
The scale of the car is also an important consideration when choosing an RC drift car. Model scales of 1:10 are most common, but cars scaled 1:12 also exist – like the FSTgo drift car – as well as cars scaled 1:8. Larger car scales will require more power to drive the car, which means these cars typically have larger motors inside, and require larger tracks to operate safely. Smaller cars are typically preferred by beginners since they are easier to control – they have less momentum around tight turns and drifts – and can be operated on the small tracks you are likely to have at your local hobby shop.
The drive system is one of the most important parts of an RC drift car. A 4-wheel drive system is like that found on the cars from Redcat Racing and Exceed is much preferred to a 2-wheel drive system when operating your car off-road, but is generally considered to be overkill if you are planning to use your car primarily on pavement. Although using all four wheels can be helpful for providing extra control and getting unstuck from dirt, it does not make a difference when using the car primarily for drifting.
One of the major limitations of nearly every RC drift car on the market today is use time. The batteries within drift cars are purposely small to reduce weight, so that the cars can accelerate faster and reach higher top speeds. However, this also means that most cars can only operate for 10-20 minutes before the battery is exhausted. It is generally a good idea to buy a spare battery for your car, so that you can make the most of a trip to the local track, and you’d also benefit from bringing a USB charger for in between drift runs.
The weight of RC cars depends on everything from the model scale, to the construction of the motor and body, to the weight of the wheels themselves. More weight means more momentum once the car is going – which can then be carried into the drift to create more spin – but also that the car will accelerate more slowly and require more track run-out to get up to drift speed.
The dimensions of RC drift cars are directly related to the models’ scale – 1:8 cars are significantly larger in size than 1:10 or 1:12 cars. The length of RC cars is typically measured in millimeters. For reference, 1:10 scale cars are typically around 360 millimeters in length, or about 14 inches, with a 260-millimeter (11-inch) wheelbase. Again, be sure to consider whether you will be using your drift car primarily on an indoor track, and whether that track is large enough to accommodate the dimensions of your chosen drift car.
The material of the car body affects the weight and aerodynamics, which in turn can have a huge effect on acceleration. The car construction is of course also important for durability, which makes it a very significant consideration. Cars like the one from Redcat Racing are designed with a vinyl polycarbonate body to reduce weight, although this material is also less burly than the aluminum used in heavier and more durable cars.
Also be sure to keep an eye out for a padded foam bumper on the front of the car – such as is found on the cars from Exceed – which can help protect against frontal impacts.
RC drift cars are not wildly expensive, but they are an investment with a lot of moving electronic and mechanical parts, that can break suddenly and without warning. Having a solid warranty from a trusted manufacturer can provided a significant amount of peace of mind when choosing a drift car. Unfortunately, solid warranty policies are hard to find among RC drift car manufacturers and all of the cars included in our list of top picks require you to contact the manufacturer directly in case of any issues.
The main difference between 4-wheel drive and 2-wheel drive RC drift cars is that the former are good for off-road driving, while the latter are primarily intended for use on pavement or indoor tracks. In general, 2-wheel drive cars require less maintenance than 4-wheel drive cars, while the amount of power within each car is not affected by the drive type itself.
Battery life remains a major limitation for most RC drift cars. The battery on most models last between 10-20 minutes. It is generally a good idea to purchase a second battery and to carry an external battery with a USB charger so that you can extend the life of your car.
Yes! Most RC drift cars can be modified by changing out the wheels, motor or exterior body. Reducing weight will increase acceleration and the maximum speed, while purchasing smoother wheels will reduce the rolling resistance the car experiences.
Our overall favorite RC drift cars on the market today are the Redcat Racing EPX, the Exceed RC Electric Drift Star RTR, and the Exceed RC Drift Star 350 Red. All three of these cars are 1:10 scale models that provide terrific value in terms of the components for the money, although they can also be easily upgraded as you grow into drift racing. The Exceed RC Drift Star 350 Red stood out for its inclusion of a brushless motor, which will long outlast the other components within the car, while the Drift Star RTR model stood out for its powerful brushed motor, its durable aluminum construction, and fast-charging battery. The Redcat Racing EPX is, in our opinion, the best RC drift car available today because of the many high-end parts for a modest price and the blazingly fast 23 mph top speed.