ECX Torment 4×4 Review

Horizon Hobby have introduced their ECX series of vehicles for the beginners. The Torment presents great opportunity to enthusiasts to jump into short course racing without spending at an arm and a leg. It is a great gift for someone who is a novice in the world of RC trucks. This truck belongs to the sportsman which is a dedicated category for the rookies. Owing to its nice ground clearance, the ECX TORMENT RTR SHORT COURSE TRUCK can be a great choice when it comes to a backyard car.

This truck was shipped to us by Horizon Hobby as they wanted us to review it comprehensively and it was also included in our 2012 Charity Raffle. We intend to do another article on it so stay tuned for more stuff on the ECX TORMENT RTR SHORT COURSE TRUCK.

The fact that the entire ECX series are Ready to Run (RTR) vehicles makes it a great attraction for the enthusiasts. It means that you simply have to get the batteries charged up and the vehicles will go racing across the fields right from the original packaging. The packaging includes a Ni-MH battery, wall charger, radio and AA batteries for the transmitter. These accessories have to be purchased separately with regard to other kits. So, this is basically an all-included package that could be a phenomenal gift.

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The ECX TORMENT RTR SHORT COURSE TRUCK is loaded with pretty basic electronics:

    • Dynamite 20T motor and 12T ESC

 

  • Spektrum DX2E transmitter and SR200 receiver
  • Speedpack 1800mAh Ni-MH 6-cell battery

These gadgets are sufficient to fulfill the requirements of any beginner but when it comes to seasoned professionals, then they might feel the urge to upgrade this gear right away. There are certain things that the ECX Smash has in common with the ECX TORMENT RTR SHORT COURSE TRUCK. Nevertheless, let us just go through this beast of a car. This track side review was carried out at CRC Raceway.

Here is the original packaging. I opened it just the night before to get the NiMh charged up.

This is how the truck and its gear are tucked inside the box. It is certainly not the most meticulous of packaging but everything was safe and sound and the accessories were not all over the place. The cardboard insert clamps over the bumper to keep the truck in place.

The Spektrum DX2E 2.4GHz radio is a new addition for the ECX TORMENT RTR SHORT COURSE TRUCK. This seems like a massive upgrade from the ancient AM system that was compatible with the previous ECX models. Those were reported to be terribly malfunctioning and had outrageously frustrating range issues. We expect this radio to be way ahead of its predecessor. It comes with basic trim and dual rate adjustments but if you are a rookie, then that is pretty much all the stuff you require.

WE got the Henwei Super Heavy Duty AA batteries into the Spektrum DX2E transmitter. This transmitter offers an impressive battery life. I remember that my DX3R seemed to run forever on even dollar store AA batteries.

The name Electrix pertains to a brand that comes up with a short and yet a kind of past that has a tremendous story associated with it. Horizon Hobby, the ECX’s parent company, wanted to emulate the success they had achieved in the realm of RC helicopters through their flagship Blade series, in the domain of RC surface category. They desired to make their products cost-effective and accessible to everyone. This certainly appears to be a challenging aim but it is by no means an impossible one. And I believe in them that they have the potential to achieve it with remarkable ease.

ECX has ten vehicles on the market and if you include the discontinued Nitro Revenge and the brushless models of the 2 wheel drive Torment and Ruckus, that would constitute 13 vehicles. However, not a lot of parts support is available for these products. We must appreciate the fact that the Revenge Type-E did come with ample aluminium parts support and hop-up options. But their 2 Wheel Drive vehicles have virtually zero parts support and this is where I seem to discredit ECX for all their hard work.

That being said, I am sure that ECX must be gearing up to bring about improvements. I have my eyes set towards them since I believe that they can become the perfect competitor for Traxxas to spur innovation and introduces prices that make products accessible to all the consumers. This is only possible if they can compete with Traxxas in terms of after-market support and sales. The latest four wheel drive vehicles is a good  arena to start competing. So, let’s have a look at this new platform developed by ECX.

Original Packaging

As long as fancy grey, the ECX Torment 4×4 is available in any color of your preference. The design of the frame is quite monotonous in the pre-release images. But when viewed in person, it is not as bland as seen in images but the grey color is still quite overwhelming.

Other items that come along with an ECX Torment 4×4 in its original packaging include a 2400 mAh Ni-MH battery, a 2Amp AC charger, a user’s manual, a DX2e transmitter and AA batteries. This is quite a typical package and is also similar to the items contained in the device’s two wheel drive counterpart except for the different pair of batteries. Since, we were reviewing the truck and not the hop-ups, so we left the charger in the original packaging and utilized our Hitec X4 AC/DC charger and our Team Orion Advantage Touch charger to charge the batteries for the purpose of this review. We made use of the included batteries along with the Dynamite Reaction 5000mAh 2S LiPo batteries.

The frame appears to be quite a sturdy one. If there is one thing the engineers at ECX are cocksure about, it’s the Plastic! The ECX Torment has a pretty formidable built and all the components have been decently protected. I am not really in love with the upper and lower A-arms since I would quite much as prefer a typical turnbuckle in place of the A-arms. Nevertheless, I have complete faith in the developers that the ECX Torment will be able to hold its ground in any sort of situation that it has been designed to tackle. ECX have be renowned for producing reliable and durable products and there does not seem to be any issue in this regard here as well.

I despise the battery hold down provided in the new ECX 4×4 devices. The removal of the shield from the posts, installation of body clips, and sliding of the battery along the frame; all of these aspects are really tormenting to say the least. I had to make a spacer for the batteries to be used so that they did not in any way damage the wires located on the shield when the batteries slid along the chassis. There is no foam spacer material available in the original packaging. So, it is essentially upto you to build a spacer of your own. It isn’t that bigger a deal but the fact that such a small item is not included in the packaging, it’s sort of disgruntling to be honest. Even the stock battery that comes in the original packaging would not fit properly as it slid around. I would recommend the developers to include spaces for different lengths of batteries in the upcoming models. To make things a lot more safer, you can always Dremel out a couple of slits in the frame and use the Velcro strap to ensure that the batteries are held together securely.

A significant update that has been made in the ECX Torment is its ability to incorporate LiPo batteries. It is the first time that ECX has included this feature its lower end surface vehicles. The switch from one mode to the other is as simple as moving a jumper on the speed control. I have been quite impressed with the simplicity involved in the jumper feature but I am afraid that the consumers might end up losing the jumper wholly, which in turn would render the vehicle useless. I have checked the developer’s website but there is no information about the replacement jumper. So, I would suggest you take care of your jumper and never lose it.

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Drive Testing the ECX Torment

Our first experience in the drive tests with the ECX Torment was really impressive. All of my fellow drivers are always rambling about the poor way in which the 2 Wheel Drive surface vehicles by ECX tend to perform in contrast to their Traxxas competitors. We were all awaiting a similar result in this situation as well. But the Torment 4×4 performed a lot better as compared to its 2 Wheel Drive cousins. It was even able to cross the piles of snow that we threw in its way from time to time and it was able to overpower them with reckless ease. The video given above displays our initial drive tests and some of the feats performed by it are really astounding to be honest.

After our initial test runs, we reached a couple of conclusions. Firstly, despite its better performance as compared to its 2 Wheel Drive cousins, it did not turn out to be better than its competitors. Secondly, we also ended up losing a bumper in frigid temperatures. We did not have a replacement bumper but we drilled a couple of slits in the damaged bumper and zip-tied it to the bulkhead. This thing really worked for the time being until we got our replacement bumper.

The second issue was a lot more easier to fix as compared to fixing the steering issue in the ECX 2 wheel drive machines. We thought at first that it was the case of a servo saver getting weak so we replaced with a solid arm. But once we went into the test runs, we found out that the issue did not lie with the servo saver. As a matter of fact, the servo itself was too weak to appropriately steer the truck. We got the stock servo motor replaced with the Traxxas 2075 that we had in our armory. The combination of the new servo and the solid arm transformed the ECX Torment’s performance remarkably and we had to turn down the steering dual rates on the radio transmitter. We carried out our remaining test runs with the replaced servo. We would recommend you to replace the steering servo as soon as possible once your buy this surface vehicle. The Savox SW0231MG servo would be my most prefered component here because of its large torque, metal gear, water resistance and the similar 25-tooth spline used in the stock servo.

As far as the durability is concerned, the ECX Torment seems to be doing pretty well. Other than the broken bumper, we did not get any other component broken in our test runs. However, during one of time trial runs, we ran our machine without the bumper and crashed into the monkey bars at a local park right on the a-arm. At least a couple of screws got loosened up and front CVD popped out of the yoke. There wasn’t any breakage but we had to do the repairs nevertheless. On the whole the Torment 4×4 is quite beefy and should hold up well even if you are an aggressive driver.

If you have driven any 4×4 basher-centric short course truck, you would find that experience similar to driving the ECX Torment 4×4 with replaced steering servo. The truck is easy to manoeuvre and we did not experience any tipping or ill-handling during our test runs. The magnitude of play in suspension and steering is not troublesome and is pretty much the same as can be found in devices of the same class. The truck performed remarkably well on the grass as well as the pavement while the brushed motor configuration did not hamper its ability to overpower any hindrances that came its way. As a matter of fact, the only obstacle the integrated motor and the ESC furnished was the check on the speed since the ECX Torment did not appear to go faster than 30MPH even though we used the 2S LiPo batteries.

Poor run duration is the only other drawback in addition to the steering servo associated with the ECX Torment. I think this is because of the fact that the vehicle is brushed-motor powered. On the stock battery, we experienced run times of around seven minutes and forty two seconds while on the Dynamite Reaction 5000mAh 2S 20C LiPo, we got a run time of fifteen minutes which is still not that impressive. We have sold these batteries for several years and got feedback from consumers with run times far higher than these. Having said that, most of our consumers are using brushless motor powered vehicles and that is why LiPo batteries provide them with extended run times. So, perhaps that is the reason behind poor run times in case of ECX Torment. Although the device is a brushed-motor powered vehicle and is also four wheel drive, it is at a great disadvantage because of its extremely poor run time. I believe that upgradation to brushless motor configuration would resolve this issue.

Ranging from grass to pavement, we carried out our test runs on a wide variety of surfaces. For each battery, we carried out five complete test runs and then averaged the times together to get our mean run time. Some runs, particularly our runs on the grass, were a lot shorter as compared to others since the truck required a lot more power to overcome the obstacle. But such a low average run time is not a usual phenomenon. We even checked to see if something was rubbing or binding and discovered nothing. We even attached a Watt’s Up meter with the truck and observed the peak current draw on grass. We got only about 51 Amps of current, which is pretty much in accordance with the ratings that we have come across on brushless motor powered vehicles with greater run times. So, other than the fact that the truck comprises a brushed motor system, I have no other reason to think of regarding poor run times.

How does it stand against the competition?

Ultimately, the ECX Torment 4×4 is bound to be compared with the Traxxas Slash 4×4 which is not fair to be honest. The ECX Torment is a brushed-motor powered vehicle while the Traxxas Slash is a brushless-motor powered vehicle that also boasts speed control. But since Traxxas do not have any brushed-motor powered device in this class, so we do not have any competitor to judge our ECX Torment against. Therefore, I believe that I should compare the Torment 4×4 against Slash 4×4 and Slash 2 Wheel Drive vehicles.

In comparison with the Slash 2 Wheel Drive short course truck with brushed motor system, the ECX Torment stacks up pretty high. Both trucks fall in the same price range but since the Torment is a 4 wheel drive and boasts top quality handling so this is where it gets ahead of the Slash 2WD. Having said that, the fact that there are not a lot of accessories available for the ECX Torment, Slash gets an opportunity to make a comeback in the competition. You will get a better quality charger and radio controller with the Torment though. The Slash 2WD, though has better battery and far better parts-support as compared to the ECX Torment. The Torment also does not steer as well out of the box as the Slash does, so you should better keep this in mind before you decide which one to purchase. You will have to replace the servo in case of Torment but overall, I believe that both the machines are head to head in this contest.

There is not much really of a contest when it comes to the ECX Torment 4×4 and the Slash 4×4. Even if the Slash 4×4 had a brushed motor system and ESC, there would still not be any competition. The Slash 4×4 would still be far ahead of the ECX Torment. The durability fact, its design and module frame, render the Slash 4×4 an outright winner in this contest and that’s well before the accessories and parts support issues are factored in. The ECX Torment is just not as good as the Slash 4×4 and so if you have the budget to go for the Slash 4×4, go for it without an ounce of hesitation. The Slash 4×4 is certainly a lot more costly than the ECX Torment; at least for the time being. As we said before, this is not a fair competition since the Slash 4×4 has been in the market for quite some time now. Third parties have had sufficient time to create hop-ups for this machine but I can’t really say whether any parts support would be available in the market for ECX Torment any time soon. So, in the current scenario, the Slash 4×4 is an out and out winner.

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Verdict on ECX Torment 4×4

I feel myself to be in a bit of a dilemma. I don’t really like to consider something good or bad based on its price tag. I want to rate products based solely on their features. But ECX seems to be constraining me from doing so. Their focus is mainly on the low price range and this is something that I hate to ramble about.

It is not possible to argue that the ECX Torment 4×4 is not worth the money. It is a formidable 4 wheel drive truck that is a bit cheaper than the Slash 2WD. It all boils down to your pocket whether you can afford a better proposition or not. The ECX Torment 4×4 seems to be a good choice for a price range of about $250. If the Torment 4×4 is able to become popular among aficionados, then the manufacturers of accessories will definitely be attracted to it. This implies that the more people buy the ECX Torment, the more add-ons will be available in the market.

Finally, it depends on your budgetary constraints what kind of surface vehicle you are interested in purchasing. This is certainly where Traxxas gets ahead of the competition since they offer such products which entice you into spending more money for extended range of features. You will get more value for your shopping even if you left your home with a certain budget limit in your mind and ended up spending more money. But ECX is slowly but surely getting right up there with Traxxas. It is still in the throes of inception currently. In this age of competition, overnight sensations and technology giants rule the roost and it is extremely difficult to jolt the market for the startups or new entrants in the market. But keep in mind that Traxxas had its own share of ire from the compatriots when it burst onto the scene for the first time in the 1980s and just look the amount of distance they have covered ever since. This certainly changes the whole complexion of the game. Doesn’t it?

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