Versatility Without Compromise: The Ken Block Gymkhana Fiesta from Traxxas
In the world of motor sports, the skills necessary for gymkhana are almost contradictory: Cars need to have precision handling for the technical demands of the timed course, while at the same time be loose enough to drift and spin when required. When Traxxas was tasked with creating a licensed version of the Ken Block Gymkhana Fiesta, they had to craft a vehicle that was versatile enough to handle all of the demands of a gymkhana road course; unfortunately, when we think of something being “versatile,” we usually think “Jack of all trades, master of none.”
This is NOT the case with the Traxxas.
Read on, and find out how this 1/16 scale beast will satisfy both the road racer AND the drifter in the family…without making any compromises.
Starting with the basics, the Ken Block Gymkhana Fiesta from Traxxas is a 1/16 scale electric road racer, based on the actual car driven by rally driver (and DC Shoes co-founder) Ken Block. The car features full-time all-wheel drive, Vileneon brushless motor and VXL-3m speed control, waterproof electronics, Volk TE37 racing wheels, licensed Ford Fiesta body, and is capable of 30+ miles per hour right out of the box (more on that later). As with all Traxxas VXL models we’ve tested, this car truly is ready-to-run (assuming you’re willing to pony-up for 4 AA batteries); with a completely assembled and tuned chassis, Traxxas TQ radio, painted body, Power Cell battery pack and wall charger, you’re good to go. I mention this because Traxxas really goes out of its way to make sure that all drivers, from novice to pro, can take their cars out of the box and immediately start having fun–something an impatient man-child like myself really appreciates.
With all of the reviews that I’ve written, I’m pretty sure that I’ve never used the word “badass” in any of them–but there’s a first time for everything, so here it goes: The Ken Block Fiesta is completely and utterly badass. From the way it looks (with its Monster graphics, and green spoked Volk wheels) to the way it drives (the perfect combination of precision, power, and drift), everything about this car begs for your attention–and you’d be smart to take notice. At the top of the article I mentioned how the skill set of this particular vehicle seems contradictory on paper–after all, precision cornering and power slides don’t normally go hand-in-hand; but the folks at Traxxas have found a way to make the Block Fiesta like a hot knife through butter when the track demands it, and a free-wheeling slider when the track tests your drifting skills. Part of the versatility can be attributed to the F1-style suspension and GTR shocks. Working together in perfect harmony, this car seems to magically know when to bite down and when to let go; something you’ll grow quite fond of on the track–especially tracks that have shorter straights and plenty of turns. Some credit must also be given to the electrics and motor; power is always plentiful, but never choppy. A clean finger pull will always result in fast, smooth acceleration.
The versatility theme also continues if you make a tire change; take off the stock (and incredibly cool looking) slicks and slap on 4 treaded tires, and your Ken Block Fiesta instantly transforms into an all-wheel-drive, road course monster. This Fiesta easily dusted larger-scale cars on the track thanks to its biggest-in-class 380 motor; and thanks to its stickier rubber, it ran like it was on rails. As always, there will be a slight learning curve when racing the Block Fiesta right out of the box; as dialed-in as Traxxas cars always seem to be, each car has a unique design and a feel all its own–and frankly, navigating a gymkhana course is no walk in the park. In fact, if this car were made by any company other than Traxxas, I wouldn’t recommend this Fiesta to beginners. But as always, Traxxas is way ahead of us with its electronics–and with one touch of the Vileneon VXL-3m electronic speed control, your Ken Block Fiesta goes into Training Mode, cutting your top speed in half for both forward and reverse. While this feature is appreciated in all Traxxas vehicles bearing this brilliant ESC, it’s especially appreciated in a car like this where exercising some initial control will yield great rewards on the track down the line. And speaking of control…
One of the great features of this Fiesta is the ability to put in a second Power Cell battery pack (along with a special Traxxas connector) and boost your top speed from 30+ to 50+ miles per hour. Yes, you read that right. No Lipo, no expensive accessories…just a second battery and proprietary plug turn the Ken Block Fiesta into a tire-melting speed demon. If you think going 30mph in a car this size feels fast (and believe me, it does), you ain’t seen nothing yet! DISCLAIMER: While this car can be enjoyed by all levels of racers, putting the second battery in does turn this into a vehicle with a much higher skill rating; for this reason, we don’t recommend beginners add the extra cell until they’re proficient with the stock setup.
If you’re interested in learning more about the technology that goes into this car (such as the new TQ 2.4GHz radio that remembers multiple cars, including all of their track settings–brilliant!), you can head over to the product page at Traxxas.com; but as I’ve said before, reading about the specs and features–as impressive as they might be–doesn’t do a vehicle like this justice. Suffice it to say, if you’ve ever had the urge to dive into 1/16 scale electric racing, the Ken Block Gymkhana Fiesta is a fantastic choice; with its excellent design, top notch electrics and yes, badass looks, this is one vehicle that’s sure to impress even the most hardcore RC racer.
The RTR Ken Block Gymkhana Fiesta retails for $325.