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Review - Slot.It CA44a Mercedes 190E DTM
#1

Released last November this is the the third body shape in Slot.It's Classic DTM series covering the period 1992-1996. I attended a couple of rounds at Donington back in the day so thought I would add one of them to my racing stable. The other models in the range are currently five Alfa Romeo 155s and a single Opel Calibra with more liveries scheduled for later this year.

I chose the new Mercedes for one simple reason - it has a sturdy, solidly mounted rear wing which is unlikely to break in normal use. The Alfa and Opel have centrally mounted flimsy wings which I would undoubtedly destroy in the first barrel rolling incident.

Information on the 1:1 car can be found HERE and HERE so I won't bother to repeat it and will move on to the 1/32 version.
       


First impressions of the model on removing it from the standard crystal case were favourable. It seemed scale accurate within the usual limitations and the decoration was mostly spot on, the odd logo may be missing but the sponsors often changed from race to race and the livery may well be correct for the specific one modelled so no glaring inaccuracies to report. Paintwork was excellent but I did think it a tad lighter than the real thing at first. However, it is a metallic finish which changes shade according to the light available and I was looking and photographing it under LED lighting. I took it outside and it immediately darkened to a very close match. If I were being really picky I would say that the chrome grille is way too shiny as is usually the case.

Quality control
So far, so good but when I powered it up there was no response so I dismantled it and found the most appalling bit of assembly of any Slot.It car I have ever bought!
       

To elaborate:
One lead wire unattached to braid which explains why the motor wouldn't turn over.

Front axle locked solid. I thought this was due to over tightening of adjustment screws but it turned out there weren't any fitted and it was due to surplus plastic from the moulding process jamming them up.

Rear track narrower than front due to to incorrectly aligned wheels which didn't remotely fill the arches.

To add insult to injury the 3 pointed star which should be on the bonnet was missing. It hadn't broken in transit but was never  fitted in the first place.

The first 3 were easily fixed and Pendle's are sourcing a spare bonnet emblem for me but this is really not good enough for a £50+ car and I hope It is not indicative of falling standards from Slot.It.

By the way, it does come with a bag of spare bits including replacement headlight mouldings in case you want to fit a lighting kit at a later date.

Performance
Having sorted out the faults and lightly oiled the relevant moving parts it was ready for an initial run. The only departure from absolute box standard was slight loosening of the screws for a little bit of body rock. Incidentally, top marks for just two body screws to adjust as opposed to the four or even six that some other manufacturers feel the need to use, I've never understood why they do that when two are perfectly adequate to hold any car together.

As you would expect the car is sold in plastic track specification with magnet and C1 tyres fitted, I wasn't expecting too much in the way of performance on my 50ft wooden track and so it proved. The tyres had some grip but struggled to hold on in the twisty bits and the inline motor set up did the usual thing of locking up under braking and lurching sideways. A lap time of 5.9 seconds was about all it could achieve which is not disastrous but nothing special. It would probably be just fine on plastic track.

I backed the braking off a bit which stopped it leaping sideways and then replaced the stock tyres with a pair of trued/oiled F22s. I don't normally glue tyres on for home use as it is a pig to replace them when they wear out.

Back on track and things were greatly improved, consistent laps in the 5.4 second region and near 5.3 if I really pushed it, with a single banzai lap of 5.248 closely followed by an enormous accident! By way of comparison a Scalextric car of similar size and weight prepped for wood struggles to get under 5.8 seconds. My Slot.It Lancia LC2 will lap at just under 5 seconds so, allowing for its wider track and lower centre of gravity, the performance difference is as you would expect.  A few 10ths here and there may not seem like much but, on a small track it is really significant so top marks to the Mercedes. There were no nasty handling deficiencies either and it would circulate perfectly unless you really overcooked it into the corners. It also stood up well to the inevitable accidents, the roof aerials are bendy plastic so remain attached and even the mirrors are still in place! No doubt performance for club use could be further improved with the expenditure of another £50 on the usual tune up parts but it is strictly for home use so I will happily leave it as is.

Summary
Leaving aside the poor quality control, which I trust is just an isolated incident, this is a really excellent car and well up to the usual Slot.It standards so I have pre-ordered the next livery to provide it with a running mate.
[+] 4 members Like CMOTD's post
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#2

That's a great review Brian. I do like the Slot.it DTMs - they are the only cars to race in the 'modern touring car' class at my local analogue club and briliant fun to drive. Although most racers will take the car apart and tweak it, those quality control issues are going to be disappointing for the home racer buying something a bit nicer (and more expensive) than the usual Scalextric or Carrera. Thankfully, I have found Slot.it's customer service pretty good. I bought the Martini Alfa 155 last year and had no problems with it out of the box. I know what you mean about the Alfa's delicate rear wing though...
[+] 1 member Likes woodcote's post
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#3

Good honest review there CMOTD.
Don't you also loosen the motor pod?

FWIW - for others reading. The weight, track and height are pretty much the same as the CA40, CA45 and CA50 Alfas, - which are all a mm or so wider than the CA35 Alfa
I have all the Alfa models and the Opel (actually 4 liveries have been released so far not just one)  The Opel is wider and lower, so has naturally faster handling

The Mercedes runs lap times on my track almost identical to the Alfas, so they are good running mates.
Mine have been taken a few steps further - but not 50 quids worth - just grub screw front axle height setting, softer braid for wood racing, glued and trued N22 tyres, weight to stabilise; and the usual minor fettling to improve the function of factory components. - About 5 quid per car .............. and 20 quid of my time :) 
With about 9 grams total weight on pod and chassis, they match an unweighted Opel, and are really fun to drive. Like you, I find them about 3/10ths slower than a Slot.it Group C around my 65 foot track.
They do have less motor, - the 21K MX15, whereas the Group C and 65 -80 sports classics have the 23K MX16
[+] 2 members Like slotloco's post
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#4

Yes, did try loosening the pod but found no significant difference in the handling/speed. I will fit thinner/softer braid and adjust axle height in due course but tried to carry out the initial review from the point of view of the 'average' buyer who just wants to run their car without too much fiddling about. I will update it later with any further fettling info. I find F22 tyres superior to N22s on my track but that is just horses for courses I expect and will differ with various surface paint finishes. I really don't like adding lead to my cars unless absolutely necessary but that is just my personal prejudice. Four Calibras released as you mention but only one currently available.

Incidentally very few car reviews on the various forums these days, would be handy if other members could post some.
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