FF-04 EVO G4 – The 2016 FF Test Car
The most interesting part of the (for me) very short 2015 RC season, was to test the car you’ll see below, the 2016 FF test car – the FF-04 EVO G4.
All this goes back to well over a year ago when we started to think about how a 4-gear transmission would work on an FF chassis, since they have been very effective on mid-motor rear wheel drive buggies. When the TRF201 XMW was realeased, and I had the chance to assemble a gearbox, we took the next step by checking if it would be possible at all, and then the required parts were designed early this year.
A 4-gear transmission means that the motor, when in the car, turns in the opposite direction compared to the usual direction; i.e. with the 4-gear transmission the rotor of the motor rotates in the same direction as the wheels of the car. This has been found to improve traction on mid-motor 2wd buggies, hence the idea to try this on an FWD touring car as well, since they suffer from quite a bit of wheel spin despite the lowish power we run on these cars.
The TRF201 XMW gearbox (also later used on the TRF211), is in many ways ideal for this project, but of course being the made for a totally different car it is not a straightforward job to fit into an FF chassis. Some of the good points of the XMW 4-gear gearbox is that it was designed to hold the motor as close to the diff (rear axle on the 201/front axle on this car) as possible, it also has the motor in the absolute center of the car, and as it is made from aluminium it is a very precise and solid gearbox, while still fairly light. As it also uses the same TA06 diff as used on the Tamiya FF cars and finally looks very good black anodised, it was the availability of this gearbox that made testing this concept a reasonable project.
So once we figured out it could be possible, I sourced all of the required special order parts for the gearbox. As the Tamiya FF-04 EVO production car was realeased late last year we decided it would be the best platform to do a comparison test with, and therefore proceeded to design the required parts so we could test this on the FF-04 EVO base.
The major parts designed and made were; lower deck with new mounting holes for the TRF201 XMW gearbox, upper deck to fit the new front mounting points, and a damper stay to fit the gearbox. In addition we had to have some posts for the upper deck front mounting points and use TRF419 separate suspension mounts, turned the “wrong” way, behind the front arms. We used the bumper from the TRF417FF and a temporary front roll-bar mount (which can not be seen in these pictures).
Additional improvements compared to the normal FF-04 EVO, coming as a side effect of using the XMW gearbox, is that the motor is as I already mentioned in the absolute center of the car, something neither the FF-03 or FF-04 have had. The motor position is also, using the 201 XMW motor plate, 3.5mm lower than the very high position of the FF-04 EVO. This is what required us to use the same modified bumper as on the TRF417FF, as height-wise it’s the same as on the 417FF.
Having recently run the standard FF-04 EVO to get a good base setup, I was quite comfortable with the car and happy with how it felt on track, so the next step was to convert the car using the mentioned parts for the 4-gear gearbox.
Putting the car on the track for the first time, was, as always when testing new ideas, super interesting. I must admit my expectation this time was that the difference would be very small compared to the standard FF-04 EVO, but to my surprise I could feel a difference straight away. The car clearly had a different feel on-power, and also super precise during braking and turn-in. Lap-times were good from the start and I had a lot of confidence in the car. With a bit of setup work and experimenting the car was very soon really good.
To get an even more direct comparison I run the car back-to-back against the TRF417FF, which I had also done while testing the standard FF-04 EVO. Since I have run the 417FF as my FF car for 2 years now I know that car inside-out and it is very well setup. But our FF-04 EVO G4 proved faster, even though with the limited setup work the balance was not quite as good yet. No doubt a big part of this came from the improved traction of the FF-04 EVO G4, as the difference was very obvious compared to the original FF-04 EVO and the 417FF. Much less wheel-spin!
I’m also fairly sure the improved feel and response both on throttle and brakes is part of the better lap-time. It is obviously hard to know what contributes exactly to what. No doubt the fact that the motor is exactly in the centre improves stability, but how much each of the differences contributes to the different carachteristics on track is impossible to say.
What we can say though, is that the FF-04 EVO G4 has again been an FF project with very good results so far. Since this first step was only meant as an easy way to test the 4 gear concept, with the layout taken straight from the FF-04, there are already many things that can be done that will easily improve the car.
The FF future is again very exciting!
Now finally, the pictures of the FF-04 EVO G4 2016 FF test car, as it looked when first assembled. I will post a follow-up later with the car as it is currently.