Tamiya has recently released a race-spec version of the M-05 chassis, designated the M-05 Pro. The new M-Chassis includes quite a few of Tamiya’s aftermarket option parts and, as with all of Tamiya’s Mini cars, this one has multiple personalities. You can assemble the M-05 Pro in a variety of wheelbases: short, to fit the old school Mini Cooper body; long, to fit the newer BMW Mini body; or mid-length, to fit the Suzuki Swift body. Growing up, the Mini Cooper has always been one of my favorite cars. In fact, before I was born, my dad had a bone stock 1961 Cooper. Bummer for me, he sold it before I was old enough to enjoy it, but since then my dad and I have collected all kinds of Mini Cooper toys; static models, Hot Wheels and other assorted die cast replicas. When I mentioned to him that I was going to review Tamiya’s newest Mini, he was very interested in checking it out. Let’s see if this Mini car can provide as much entertainment for me as the 1961 Cooper did for my dad.
AT A GLANCE
WHO MAKES IT: Tamiya
WHO IT’S FOR: Everyone
HOW FAST: 20.27mph
PART NO.: 58443
HOW MUCH: $169.99
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
• The M-05 Pro’s new chassis layout is designed for better weight distribution and a lower center of gravity. All the electronics are mounted as low as possible on the chassis and easily accessible. Even the servo (one of the heavier electronic items in the car) is mounted on the bottom plate.
• The steering now incorporates a dual bellcrank system. The setup not only makes the steering more precise, it also improves the vehicles ability to track straight. Adjustable steering rods allow you to accurately tune the front toe.
• Because this is a Pro kit, it does come with a few cool upgrades. These include a pair of M-03R Aluminum 1.5 degree rear uprights, an aluminum servo saver horn, clear, oil filled dampers, short TRF springs, full ball bearings, aluminum ball studs and locknuts, and a hi-torque servo saver. In addition, Tamiya offers a bunch of additional option parts to really deck out your mini!
• The M-05 Pro has three adjustable wheelbase lengths (210mm/225mm/239mm). Each has its advantages on the track, but this also allows you to mount any of Tamiyas Mini-class bodies. I had a choice of the Rover Mini Cooper (short wheelbase), the Suzuki Swift (mid wheelbase) or the newer BMW Mini Cooper S (long wheelbase). I chose the Swift because I really like the look and thought the mid wheelbase design would probably handle the best.
• The clear, oil-filled CVA dampers (or shocks) are included and are designed to use Tamiya’s TRF racing springs (also included). These adjustable shocks lower the cars overall ride height and provide smooth, crisp cornering action.
• The M-05 Pro will accept stick packs or LiPo packs. You must, however, use LiPos that have ‘rounded’ corners and a pigtail-and-plug soldered into place.
+ Futaba 4PK transmitter w/R603FS receiver—Item no. FUTK4900, $499
+ Futaba S3305 high-torque metal-gear servo—S3305, $35
+ Futaba Intermediate programmable FET ESC—FUTM0910, $50
+ Reedy 3600mAh WolfPack stick pack—695, $60
Test Venue: Secret location, codename Topaz, Garden Grove, CA
Conditions: Freshly paved parking lot
Front-wheel-drive cars are very hard to spin out! Around the secret test track, I had no problem keeping the throttle pinned through the long, arching sweeper. Even through the tight hairpins, the Tamiya 60D radial tires held on well. The new dual-bellcrank steering setup really helped me to navigate the M-05 Pro around the track and provided silky-smooth steering. Moving the servo to the back of the car also improved weight transfer during acceleration and braking.
Another good thing about front-wheel drive cars is that you can set the brakes at 100 percent and call it a day! Plenty of times, I drove deep into a corner and slammed on the brakes. Even my dad was happy that if he ever got into trouble, he could apply the brakes as hard as he wanted knowing the Mini would stay straight and composed. The Futaba MC601C ESC kept up with our abuse with fade-free operation.
The last time I drove an M-Chassis car, I remember that when I launched from a standstill, I’d get a ton of wheel-hop and torque-steer. This is all but gone with the new M-05 Pro chassis design. My dad and I could mash the throttle from a standing start and be flying around the track in no time. Even with the stock motor, the Reedy Wolfpack provided more than enough power to spin the front meats with ease. In fact, I’m pretty sure my dad enjoyed doing burnouts more than driving around the track! I’ll be looking into a new set of front tires here soon. The 60Ds are very close to being racing slicks.
Tamiya has changed the suspension geometry quite a bit. The clear CVA shocks (with TRF racing springs) are shorter and at a different angle from those in previous M-Chassis cars, and the provide better handling. In addition, the adjustable rear camber links help you to dial in rear traction on any surface. On the track, the M-05 Pro seemed to float over most of the rougher sections of asphalt without a hint of going out of control. Only a stray “big” rock on the far outskirts of the track upset it (don’t ask what I was doing out there). Keep the M-05 Pro on the racing line, and fast laps are a cinch.
Tamiya’s new chassis design did not compromise durability. The drivetrain is still sealed like a vault, the front end is protected by a pretty mean-looking bumper, and nothing on the underside of the car is exposed. Even the electronics are well protected on individual mounting trays. Tamiya includes some aluminum goodies not only to add bling, but also to strengthen areas that might be vulnerable to carnage-delivering crashes. My dad and I were lucky enough not to officially test the durability (other than the previously mentioned off-track boulders), but I’m pretty confident that this little M-car will handle quite a bit of abuse.
WHAT WE LIKED
• Full ball-bearings
• Cool clear shock bodies
• Some Tamiya blue aluminum goodies included
• Lower-CG chassis is much easier to work on
• Accessible mounting area for electronics
• Adjustable wheelbase to fit all the Tamiya M-Chassis bodies
• The packaging box rocks!
WHAT COULD BE IMPROVED
• Since this is a Pro kit, it would have been cool to have a flashy new set of wheels
SPECS & TUNING OPTIONS
LENGTH 9 in. (229mm)
WIDTH 6.5 in. (165mm)
WHEELBASE 8.3, 8.8, 9.4 in. (210, 225, 239mm)
WEIGHT 2.31 lb. (1,490g)
• Camber—adjustable rear
• Toe (F)—adjust turnbuckle length
• Front springs—standard short TRF springs
• Rear springs—standard short TRF springs
• Shock oil—use oil in a variety of viscosities
• Bump-steer—add or subtract shims under the steering ball stud
THE LAST WORD
Tamiya has not only made some drastic improvements on the M-Chassis design, but taken it to the next level with the M-05 Pro. The extra goodies you get with the Pro are all items you might eventually purchase anyway, but Tamiya has included them for not a lot of extra cash. The design is well throughout and shows that this car is not only simple and easy to build, but definitely has serious track potential. The ability to change wheelbase lengths just by switching the position of the rear suspension parts will allow the builder to choose from quite a few different body designs, thus customizing the M-05 to their liking. While I did have a ton of fun racing the M-05 around with the Suzuki Swift body, I couldn’t leave the test track without letting my dad drive the M-05 with his body of choice…the old school Mini Cooper. I loaded up the blue Cooper body, slapped on the Panasport-style wheels and let my dad tear it up around the track. I could tell he was having a really good time and, seeing how it probably brought back a lot of memories of his ‘61 Cooper, I knew what I had to do. By the time you read this article, my dad will be the owner of Tamiya’s newest M-Chassis (surrounded by a blue Mini Cooper body)…the M-05 Pro.