The #42109 LEGO Technic App-Controlled Top Gear Rally Car is the third LEGO Technic set that works with the new LEGO Technic Control+ app. I was really looking forward to this set, because it’s the smallest LEGO Technic vehicle that includes all the new electronic components. Now that I had the chance to finally build the car and test out the features, I thought to share my thoughts on it.
Please note that my views are from the perspective of a notice Technic builder. Although I have built Technic sets before, including the super awesome and very complex #42110 LEGO Technic Land Rover Defender, this is my first remote-controlled Technic vehicle experience, and the first time I used the LEGO Technic Control+ app. So, if you’re new to LEGO Technic, and/or the new app-controlled electronic components, you can follow along as I discover this new system for myself. And for advanced builders, I also included the review videos of two very experienced LEGO Technic review channels; Sariel and RacingBrick. They will give you a more in-debt review of the set.
As mentioned above, the #42109 LEGO Technic App-Controlled Top Gear Rally Car is only the third LEGO Technic set that uses the new electronic components controlled via Bluetooth. And with the price of $129.99, it is also the cheapest currently available set to get your hands on the electronic parts. The other two sets are the #42099 LEGO Technic 4×4 X-treme Off-Roader for $249.99, and the #42100 LEGO Technic Liebherr R 9800 Excavator for $449.99. You can check them out at the LEGO Technic section of the Online LEGO Shop.
The three electronic components are the #6214085 LEGO Powered Up L-Motor, the #6214088 LEGO Powered Up XL-Motor, and the #6142536 LEGO Powered Up Bluetooth Hub (which also serves as the battery box). It’s worth noting that while the Rally Car has one of each of the three components, the Off-Roader has one L-Motor, two XL-Motors, and one Hub. And the Liebherr has four L-Motors, three XL-Motors, and two Hubs. The Liebherr is definitely a beast! I don’t know how the electronic components are packaged in the two larger sets, but in the Rally Car, they came separately packaged in a nice black box with the number #6318336 LEGO Technic printed on it.
The #42109 LEGO Technic App-Controlled Top Gear Rally Car only consist of 463 pieces, and the three electronic components provide the biggest bulk. In fact, the Hub itself is an integral part of the chassis, while also housing the six AA batteries and the Bluetooth connector. The larger motor sits at the back to power the vehicle, while the smaller motor is located at the front and takes care of steering. Both of them are neatly connected to a couple of LEGO Technic frames. I love the efficiency of the whole setup!
Continuing with the efficiency and neatness, the cables running between the motors and the hub are routed via two red and two yellow LEGO Technic Wire Connectors. Because the electronic components are so large and the vehicle is not very big – about 10” (26cm) long, 3” (10cm) high and 5” (14cm) wide – there is no room for seats and steering in the cabin, but LEGO designers did manage to squeeze in a fake engine at the front with a lift-up hood. None of the components here do anything, but they do make the vehicle look nice.
Building the set took me about two hours, which is longer than an experienced LEGO Technic builder would need. However, I enjoyed the process. The 26 stickers alone took about half an hour to apply. (I use the soapy water method to attach stickers. It takes longer, but it assures that the stickers sit just right). In general, I do like to take my time with LEGO Technic sets because they are such interesting and educational building projects, and because mistakes are harder to fix than in regular LEGO sets.
The build itself has two interesting sections (besides installing and connecting the electric parts); the differential gear train at the back, and the steering at the front. Other than that, you’re just building the shell of the car and applying the stickers.
I know some people are critical of the small size and lack of features of the Rally Car, but I love how compact it is! And it’s also very solid, so running into things while navigating shouldn’t be a problem. As far as aesthetics, the back end looks especially good, and I also like the low and chunky profile. One thing that really surprised me is the weight of the vehicle due to the electronic components and six batteries. It weights almost two pounds!
I’m not sure though why this set needed to be associated with Top Gear. There is some minimal info about Stig in the instruction booklet, but there is no Stig minifig, and as far as I know, the Rally Car is not a specific vehicle from the Top Gear franchise. I don’t know how much licensing fee LEGO has to pay for this brand, and how much this increased the price of the set, but I think most LEGO fans would have been happy with a generic rally car with a cool Technic color-scheme and stickers for a lesser price.
Now, let’s talk about the app, and what it’s like to control the vehicle. You can download the app for free at the App Store or Google Play. To read about device compatibility with phones and tablets and other frequently asked questions, you can visit the official LEGO Control+ page. Once the app is installed, you just follow the prompts for any updates and for connecting with the Rally Car (basically, just push the green button on the LEGO Powered Up Hub when the app tells you to do so).
The app also walks you through a short tutorial, showing you how to control the speed and direction of the vehicle with the right hand, and turning with the left hand. You can switch between manual and automatic shifting on the same dashboard. I found manual shifting easier to use when you’re just learning how to control your car. Once you get the hang of it, you can take the driving challenges. The challenges are pretty fun, but you do need to have quite a bit of space with no obstructions to successfully complete them. Or, you can just come up with your own challenges driving around furniture and stuff.
One thing I didn’t realize until I watched the video-reviews is that there is a second control screen in the app that you can access by swiping left on the main control screen, which allows you to turn the Rally Car by just tilting your phone. Here, also, you have a choice to drive automatic or manual, which gives you even more options. So, essentially, you have four different ways to control your vehicle. In the video-reviews below, you can see how this works in more detail.
As a beginner who had no previous experience with remote-controlled Technic vehicles, I’m satisfied with the speed and performance of the Rally Car. I’m mostly running it indoors, and I can’t imagine wanting it go any faster. I would completely loose control and crash into everything! However, you will notice that both Sariel and RacingBrick are critical of the speed, and consider the vehicle too slow. Another thing to keep in mind is that the Rally Car is not meant to be an off-roader. It’s heavy, has low clearance, and relatively small wheels. It’s not going to handle hills and puddles outside very well. If that’s what you would like, the #42099 LEGO Technic 4×4 X-treme Off-Roader is a better option.
In summary, I’m happy with #42109 LEGO Technic App-Controlled Top Gear Rally Car, and I have been playing with it every day, completing the challenges and perfecting my driving skills. I love the look, and I’m satisfied with the performance. However, if you’re an advanced LEGO Technic user, or you have experience driving non-LEGO remote controlled vehicles, you might want to wait until the new electronic components are available individually and you can build your own vehicles.
If you are interested in any of the three new app-controlled vehicles – the #42109 LEGO Technic App-Controlled Top Gear Rally Car, the #42099 LEGO Technic 4×4 X-treme Off-Roader, and the #42100 LEGO Technic Liebherr R 9800 Excavator – visit the LEGO Technic section of the Online LEGO Shop.
What do you think? Do you have any of the new LEGO Technic app-controlled vehicles? Or are you planning to get any of them? How do you like them? Which one is your favorite? Feel free to share your thoughts and own reviews in the comment section below!
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I have been eyeing this set. Thanks for the review. Question, does it work with the standard remote?
I would love to know this too. I’m so confused by the correct selection of eletronics and never know what works with what.
No, these sets are designed to work with your smartphone via an app that you must download. There is not a remote control device option for the new Powered Up electronics system.
Tim is correct. The Powered Up remote cannot work with this car, as the remote is not sophisticated enough the recreate all the functions of the app. However, there is a workaround you can use for basic functions (forward/reverse/turning) if you prefer to use the remote for better tactile sensation.
Balazs from RacingBrick wrote a little program for the Powered Up app, and when executed, the app allows you to control the Rally Car via the remote. I have done this myself and it works great.
Basically, the A side of the remote will control going forward and reverse, and the B side of the remote controls turning. The setup is not as refined as controlling the car with the app, but it works well for basic functions. Here is a video-demonstration of how this works: https://youtu.be/hLbr4si2Qfs?t=6m8s
And here is where you can download the PDF to write the program. All you have to do is copy it into the Powered Up app on your device: https://racingbrick.com/lego-powered-up-customized-controllers/
Thanks for this. It sounds intriguing. I don’t like app-based remotes as it’s hard to feel what I’m doing. I have to constantly look down at the app.
Hm…. now I’m thinking about buying it. It’s all your fault, admin. How do you like the app?
The app works as it should. I haven’t run into any issues with it. How to use it is pretty obvious, but as I said in my review, there was actually a whole screen I was missing (and a whole different way to control the car) because I didn’t realize it was there. So, poke around a bit once you download it to see how works and what are the options. 🙂
I’m also confused by how all of this works. Are there any tutorials? I would hate to spend a bunch of money and not be able to make it work.
Yes, it can be confusing. That’s why I always recommend that if you want to try out any of the powered options, you purchase a set that uses the system. This way, you are guaranteed to get a working model right out of the box, and you also get a good example of how the components work together. Assembling sets with Powered Up is no different than assembling any other sets; you just follow the instructions. If you stick with the official sets, everything will work just fine.
The challenge is when you want to build your own custom powered models. For this, you would have to learn how Powered Up works in a more systematic way. There is little documentation from LEGO at this point (although they keep saying they’re working on it). However, there are some very good tutorials by the fan community. My two favorite YouTube channels are Sariel and RacingBrick. RacingBrick has been putting out some very useful tutorials recently. I recommend visiting their website, https://racingbrick.com/.
Thanks for the review. I have been curious about this set. It would be my first motorized Technic set also, so I appreciate the review from the perspective of a newbie. I hope it’s still around for Christmas.
Lego should really make a standard remote that can operate these vehicles. I know apps are cool, and lego is chasing the trend, but needing a smartphone or tablet to operate these expensive sets is making them even more pricey. Just give us a remote like all other remote controlled cars have. It shouldn’t be that hard.
If they could do an introductory set below $100, I would be all in. $130 is a bit steep to try something out. I may get it eventually, but they should do a nonlicensed intro set. A lot of people are intimidated by this new technology.
Okay, I don’t know what I’m doing wrong, but I’m not finding some of the code blocks Racing Brick is using in the powered up app. Help?
If you’re missing blocks, you need to update the app. New blocks are added with new updates, and it’s very likely that you’re still using an older version. So, just update the app, and all the missing blocks should appear. 🙂
Okay, this may be a stupid question, but can the Powered Up app used for the rally car? Or does it have to be Control+? What’s the difference? My phone already has too many apps, so I’m trying to download only what’s essential. Are the two apps perform the same functions? Or how are they different?
To put it simply, the Powered Up App and Control+ both use the new Powered Up Bluetooth control system. The Powered Up App controls the basic Powered Up hub that comes with the trains, and the Control+ app works with the more advanced Technic hub.
To keep it simple for kids to use, in both apps you can select the exact sets you are planning ton control. The Powered Up app controls the LEGO City train, the Disney Train, and the App-Controlled Batmobile, and the Control+ app controls the more advanced functions of the powered LEGO Technic sets.
To make things more confusing, the Powered Up app actually allows some pretty advanced custom coding, something that Control+ doesn’t have at this point. If you don’t have any of the three Technic sets that use Control+, I would just stick with the Powered Up app, as it has everything you need to control the Powered Up sets and allows you to write your own code as well.
By the way, you can control at least some of the functions even if you’re using the “wrong” app or select the “wrong” vehicle in the right app. It’s just that some of the functions may work unexpectedly.