3 Racing Sakura D5 – The “Best” Beginner Car?

December 11, 2020

3 Racing recently hit the scene with their latest offering, the Sakura D5. People quickly began building them and seemed to be really happy with the performance right out of the box. Coming in at what is the cheapest price point for any hobby grade chassis, we quickly saw the D5 become the recommended chassis for anyone inquiring about which chassis a beginner should get. From our experience, initial price shouldn’t be the only consideration, and possibly not even the main consideration, so I decided to build one and see if I would recommend it as eagerly as I have been witnessing over the past month or so.

Sakura D5 with Mid-Grade Electronics

At the price of just over $100 USD, it’s hard to argue this chassis isn’t a smoking deal. At the same time, the cheapest price doesn’t always coincide with the best deal. I decided to step away from my typical build style and venture into the more budget-minded approach. I chose to go with what I would recommend as a good starting point. Decent servo, mid-grade gyro, motor with adjustable timing, and a ESC (electronic speed control) capable of boost and turbo. This isn’t the cheapest stuff I could find, but more about getting some good performance without going all high-end.

Let the build begin!

The Kit 
The kit itself is as good as any other kit. Nothing really stands out to me one way or the other. For someone building a kit for the first time, I can definitely recommend it. The parts are well sorted, instructions are clear and straight forward, and there was nothing difficult.

Quality 
There are a few areas where I found myself very conflicted. The quality of the D5 kit doesn’t appear to be all that bad, especially when you consider how much heft you still have in your wallet. As I was building the D5 I found myself constantly thinking, “This isn’t bad”. When I think back, I feel I should have been thinking, “This isn’t bad FOR THE PRICE”, because I don’t think I would be thinking this if I had paid the same as a YD2, RMX, or any other hobby grade chassis. I still have to say, it’s not bad.

Interesting Lower Control Arm Design

3 Racing has an interesting design here with the rear lower control arms. I wasn’t quite sure what the reasoning was behind it, but as I’m sitting here writing this, I don’t think it was for any type of weight savings. When compared to an all plastic control arm, I feel the added screws would put these over on the weight. I can’t be certain at the moment, but I can’t see it being weight savings.

Black colored fiberglass looks almost as good as carbon fiber to the untrained eye

As the chassis started coming together, I was able to really see what I was working with. For the beginner, the fiberglass chassis will look great. It has a nice shape to it and resembles what most other chassis look like. It’s not bad, but again this is not a high-end chassis either.

Built up looks pretty nice

The completed chassis looks pretty good appearance wise. The cantilever front suspension isn’t bad. Being the decks themselves are fiberglass rather than carbon allows it to have a good amount of flex. The shocks went together better than expected for a kit of this price.

Those look like some knarly gears

If I had any one complaint, I would say I don’t care for the gear box. I feel the gears are a little rough and a bit loud. 

Motor in place

With the motor in place, the weight seems to be a little far back for my taste. Again, it’s not bad for the price.

All built up with electronics installed

The Test Build 
For the Sakura D5 I have chosen: Savox Black Edition Servo, Yokomo V.4 Gyro, Hobbywing XR10 Pro 60 amp ESC, and a Yokomo Zero 2 13.5T motor. Everything was built to stock spec and the only thing I changed were the wheels and tires since I was going to be testing it here at Super-G and we require DS Racing FFFF Zero Mark II tires.

How Does It Perform 
Taking the price into consideration, it drives fantastic! How is it compared to the other offerings? It’s decent. With out of the box settings, it drives. With a little tuning, it actually is surprisingly good.

So Is It Really Is “The Best” For The Beginners? 
Now I didn’t say that. Since we deal with a lot of first timers, we are very familiar with the struggles they face. I think the best way to look at it is to break it down into a few different categories. 

RTR 
The RTR (Ready To Run) at the moment is only offered by MST with the RMX RTR. It comes fully built with electronics. The electronics from start to end are all Entry Level and if you want to continue with the hobby, you will need to upgrade ALL OF THE ELECTRONICS. However, the RTR RMX chassis is the same chassis as you would get with the RMX 2.0s Kit with a few small differences, but overall is a chassis that can grow with you. 
Price: $350 approx. 

Sakura D5 with Mid-Grade Electronics 
The Sakura D5 chassis comes as a kit. I always recommend anyone wanting to get into R/C in general to build the kit themselves. It teaches them a lot and you can always make the repairs you will absolutely need to make regardless of what car you have.

As I have tested the D5, it has Mid-Grade Electronics that can carry over into any chassis you may upgrade to in the future. This eliminates the downfall of the RTR in my opinion. So the money spent on the electronics is not wasted. The chassis on the other hand is another story.

The D5 chassis is inexpensive ($120ish) and does work out of the box. HOWEVER, none of the components are anything I would be wanting to take with me on my R/C Drift Journey. At least at the time I am writing this, there are really no upgrades available. So you get what you get. I feel the D5 is a great chassis for the price. I stress, for the price. However, I’m not a huge fan of the gearbox or any of the components for that matter. If you drop $100 into any upgrades, you could have spent the initial $120 toward a YD2 or RMX and would be continuing down a path toward a top quality chassis.

I believe $120 as an initial investment in the chassis is not a bad way to go. The reason I chose to test with the mid-grade electronics and not the RTR equivalent is I feel there would be no point to going that route, and would ultimately be a worse route than the RTR. With the mid-grade electronics, it’s not a bad way to go and gets you in with a minimum investment. You can easily slide into a better quality chassis and your electronics will still be sufficient. 
Price: $520 approx.

Yokomo YD2 or MST RMX 2.0s with Mid-Grade Electronics 
If you decide to purchase what most would consider the Entry Level Yokomo or MST chassis, you would get the YD2E or YD2S, or the MST 2.0s chassis. These are priced about $100 more than the Sakura D5, but are proven chassis and are very capable in their stock form. Their components will carry throughout the time you stick with any of these chassis, and all can be upgraded to fully upgraded versions of the respective chassis. This has been my recommendation to anyone just trying to get into R/C Drift since it is ultimately the most budget friendly route. Each component in this equation ends up being a stepping stone or investment toward a fully hopped up setup with nothing needing immediate upgrades. 
Price: $620 approx.

The 3Racing Sakura D5

Conclusion 
The 3Racing Sakura D5 isn’t a bad chassis for the price. It works well and for most of us with multiple chassis, time into the hobby, and tuning tricks up our sleeves, it’s a great additional chassis. It’s fun, it works, and it’s affordable. It has strong rear motor characteristics, and the build quality isn’t the best. It can be tuned to be a real performer, so overall it’s a winner. I can say it’s definitely a fun chassis.

So the big question, is it the “Best” chassis for the person just getting into the hobby with no prior experience? I don’t think I can say it’s the best route, but it’s an optional route, and not a terrible one at that. It now gives that middle tier between the RTR and the base models with the mid-grade electronics.

In my opinion it’s pretty clear now, if you are looking to get into the hobby, (not just try it out) while spending the least amount possible. Based on being new and on a budget: 

Recommended Starting Point: 
Mid-Grade Electronics with either a Yokomo YD2E or YD2S, or MST RMX 2.0sPrice: $620 approx. 

Second Best: 
Mid-Grade Electronics with a Sakura D5 Price $520 approx. 
Total cost to get to “Recommended Starting Point” $720 approx. Parts needed = New Chassis such as YD2 or RMX 

Most Affordable Starting Point: 
MST RTR RMX 2.0 Price $350 approx. 
Total cost to get to “Best Starting Point” $800+ approx. Parts needed = Servo, Gyro, Esc, Motor, Radio System, Misc. chassis parts.

Keep in mind, this is only my personal recommendation for someone basing their initial purchase on budget. There are many other aspects to take into consideration if initial cost isn’t a huge factor. 
This is all based on the experience I have had with people just getting into the hobby.

SEE YOU ON THE TRACK!