Losi 8IGHT 2.0 RTR Review

Posted:  Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Written By:  Gary Katzer
Copyright:© 2009 Horizon Hobby, Inc.

Losi may not have been the first to enter the 1/8-scale buggy arena, but in recent years they have been one of the most dominant forces in the class. Hot off the heels of winning back-to-back-to-back ROAR National Titles, the 8IGHT-platform continues to be a potent competitor. Losi has taken the 8IGHT 2.0 winning formula, given it the RTR treatment and the result is the car before you now, the Losi 8IGHT 2.0 RTR. Taking a 1/8-scale buggy and making it an RTR is easy. All you need to do is slap in any engine, electronics and radio, and you're ready to run. While others may take this route, this is not the Losi way. Instead of just any off-the-shelf engine, the 8IGHT 2.0 RTR includes a competition-ready 350 engine. Instead of just any electronics, the 8IGHT 2.0 RTR includes genuine JR servos. And perhaps the coup d'état is in the included radio system. Instead of any old radio system, the 8IGHT 2.0 RTR includes what could be considered to be the best radio ever included with an RTR—a Spektrum DX3S telemetry-equipped radio system.

With all this promise under the body, we were eager to see exactly what this buggy was capable of. The 8IGHT 2.0 has already proven what it can do in the hands of pro-drivers such as Mike Truhe, Billy Fischer and Adam Drake. Will the RTR version be able to keep pace and match the form of its full-race cousin in the hands of the average driver? We headed to the racetrack to answer just that question. Talk is cheap; let's open this one up to see exactly what it can do.

Speed Specs

Speed Specs
Vehicle: 8IGHT 2. RTR
Manufacturer: Losi
Part Number: LOSB0084
Vehicle Class/Type: 1/8 Scale Buggy
Target Audience: Backyard basher to intermediate-level casual racer
Kit/RTR/BND/Race Roller: RTR (as tested)

Test Items Used
Losi 30% Nitrotane Race Blend (LOSB0430)
Losi Performance Battery Pack (LOSB9900)
Losi Aluminum Glow Driver (LOSB5221)
Losi 500cc Fuel Bottle (LOSB5201)

Final Thoughts
Before hitting the track, I spent an afternoon breaking in and tuning the included Losi 350 engine. I was pleasantly surprised at how easy this engine was to start, how well it idled and also how well the break-in process went. The onboard Spektrum Telemetry also made breaking the engine in a snap, as I was able to easily monitor the engine's temperature without having to bring the car to a stop. I did set the temperature alarm to 265-degrees and it never reached that level once. For the most part, the 350 engine ran quite happily at between 200–235 degrees. After running 6 tanks of Losi 30% Nitrotane through the engine, it was sufficiently broken in and the carburetor was set. I was ready to let the 8IGHT 2.0 RTR eat.

Top Speed/Acceleration
One trait of the entire 8IGHT series of vehicles, from the buggies to the truggies to the L8IGHT Model is that the 4-shoe clutch setup helps provide a smooth yet aggressive throttle response out of the hole. The 8IGHT 2.0 RTR continues this tradition, as I was never at a loss for acceleration with this car. I was able to blip the throttle to load the suspension and get over anything from the smallest to the largest jumps. On the high-end, the Losi 350 engine is a welcome surprise as it pulled strong and hard each and every time I got onto a straightaway.

I admit I've spent a lot of time lately driving Short Course trucks such as the Strike. That being said, I had adjusted my driving style to that type of vehicle. Driving a 1/8-scale buggy is dramatically different, especially once it leaves terra firma. With the stock spring preload settings the 8IGHT 2.0 RTR was very nose-heavy for the first few laps around the track. Like a slap to the side of my head, it hit me that I was staying on the power way too long and my inertia was pulling the rear of the car forward too much. I adjusted my approach and, as I did, I was rewarded with smoother takeoffs, level flights and near perfect landings. The dampening in the shocks felt pretty spot on, at most no more than perhaps one step on the soft side.

It has been about two years since I have spent any significant time behind the wheel of a 1/8-scale buggy, that last car being the original 8IGHT RTR. Focusing more on 1/10-scale off-road, I had to re-acclimate myself to the throttle response of the bigger buggy, both on the ground, approaching jumps and in the air. It didn't take very long with the 8IGHT 2.0 RTR, as I found my comfort level relatively quickly. I had forgotten how much steering the original 8IGHT RTR had and the 8IGHT 2.0 RTR shares much of that trait. The difference between the two cars is that the newer version steers just as well without breaking the rear of the car loose. With the old car I always felt I was chasing the rear of the car from corner to corner to corner. If I could use one word to describe the handling of the 8IGHT 2.0 RTR out-of-the-box, I'd have to say "balanced," with a slight off-power push if you stayed on the brakes too long entering a corner.

As I previously mentioned, the 8IGHT 2.0 RTR steers very well off-power but not at the cost of rear bite. I felt like the car had a little too much rear droop out of the box based on nothing more than watching how the rear wing would pop up when I pegged the brakes. I can't say that it was hurting performance or lap times, but it was a little odd feeling. I also noticed that getting off the brakes when entering a corner would make or break how the car would enter the corner. If the front wheels aren't rotating they won't provide any steering response. I could have played with the brake bias to change how the brake balance was mechanically, but I adjusted the brake throw via the radio to compensate instead.

I was worried that the kit step pin tires had too tall of a lug to hook up properly on the hard-packed RJD track surface. I was pleasantly surprised when the 8IGHT 2.0 RTR hooked up and went from the word go with the stock tires. While the track itself was hard-packed, the top layer was extremely sandy and loose, perfect for the step pins. The car had great forward bite and stability on-power without a loss of stability or side control. This positive traction on-power also gave me confidence to approach jumps without having to worry about keeping my roll speed up. This is definitely a confidence-inspiring car.

Out-Of-The-Box Setup
I’ve admitted before, and I will again here, that I tend to struggle when I run off-road. Being more of an on-road racer, I am more comfortable in higher bite conditions where traction is less of an issue. I also find the jumping aspect of off-road rather challenging. Sure, you figure that you just peg the throttle and get over an obstacle, how hard can it be, right? It’s far more comprehensive than it may seem, as it’s almost like things such as throttle, braking, loading the chassis, how I turn the wheels or even how I comb my hair all seem to have an effect on how my cars and trucks jump. Combine all those things with a box-stock RTR setup and, quite often, the results are less than stellar. But that’s not the case with the 8IGHT 2.0 RTR.

Having driven the original 8IGHT RTR and honestly struggling with how much steering that car had, I didn’t know what to expect with this car. I tend to set my on-road cars up to have a lot of steering, which tends to be faster on high-bite tracks. For me, however, the 8IGHT RTR stepped over the razor’s edge to the point of being more challenging to drive. With my previous experience, I didn’t know what to expect from the 8IGHT 2.0 RTR. I knew that there was an emphasis on making this new car less edgy yet still retain the other positive handling characteristics that made the 8IGHT a National Champion. That is a difficult balance to reach, however, the 8IGHT 2.0 RTR hits it quite well.

I’ll say it now—this car loves to be jumped and it’s totally controllable in the air. The stock shock oil and springs felt really good, not just for an RTR but for a race car. The weight placement felt spot on as the car felt the same going in either direction. I did feel like the car had a touch more steering with a full tank of fuel than later in the run, owing to the additional weight of the fuel due to the forward tank placement.

As I mentioned in the video, Losi made an interesting move with the 8IGHT 2.0 RTR in their decision to develop a new 350-sized engine for use in this car. Many have said less is more, and that’s particularly the case here. The original 8IGHT RTR’s 427-sized engine was a beast in many ways, and often all that power simply translated to more wheel spin. I am always on the lookout, not for more power, but for more usable power. The Losi 350 engine in the 8IGHT 2.0 RTR nails it perfectly, combining great top-end speed with controllable bottom-end torque. The fact that this is an easy-to-tune engine is just a bonus. The Losi 350 engine is just a really nice powerplant.

The 8IGHT 2.0 RTR represents the refinement of a philosophy versus a complete departure. The 2.0 provides a smoother and easier to control platform while still retaining the positive traits of the original. Flat out, this car works—and it works on many levels. Combine the same basic features that, in the last 18-months, have won 2 ROAR national titles and TQ’ed the IFMAR Worlds and you know you have a winner on your hands. But what works as an all-out racer doesn’t always translate well to the RTR world. This does.

The 8IGHT 2.0 RTR also represents one of the best values you can get in an RTR. It’s true that other 1/8-scale RTRs may include starter boxes. Still others include some very good engines. But there’s not another single car out there that combines the included starter box with a potent engine and also includes a 2.4GHz telemetry-equipped radio system. If you’re looking for a car that is just as at home on the race track as in the back yard or in an open lot, look no further than the 8IGHT 2.0 RTR. When it comes to 1/8-scale buggies, Losi clearly has done their homework. Class dismissed!

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