The Syma X9 Flying Car
Technical Editor Andy Willmott test drives a flying car.
If you’re like me, you’ve always dreamt of having a flying car. We’re still a little bit away from the full size version, but thanks to drone technology, RC cars have just gotten a whole lot more interesting.
Best of Both Worlds
The Syma X9 Flycar is a hybrid RC car/drone suitable for kids, big or small. It's cheap and super easy to fly or drive.
For around $60-70 on eBay it's great value, and what kid wouldn't be delighted to open a present like this. It's a guaranteed hit!
For a little more you can go for the X9 with the aptly named spare parts 'Crash Pack' for around $110. This is a bargain as you also get replacement parts for the bits you are likely to break, i.e., the props, wheels and motors as well as a bunch of extra batteries.
With a charge time of over an hour, it's well worth it just for the extra batteries.
From Ground to Air
The sticks are configured so that in driving mode you control it exclusively with the right stick, forward goes forward, back goes back and left and right do what you imagine.
You can set the controller to operate in either Mode 1 or Mode 2 for flight mode, but it seems to be back to front from what we consider normal on the one I tested. I had to choose Mode 1 to get Mode 2 flight controls.
What's it like to fly? Easy peasy. Transitioning between driving and flying is really fluid and intuitive. You can be driving along and give it a little vertical throttle and all of a sudden you're in the air where all the rules change. Once in the sky the controls are nice and soft and it's super stable.
The X9 has a High/Low Speed switch. If you're new to quads, keep it on low till you get used to it. Low speed affects both the responsiveness of the quad in the air as well as the amount of power you have to drive on the ground, so you'll definitely want to switch it into high gear before long.
It doesn't have loads of torque on the ground, and struggles a little on inclines or in shag pile carpet, but that's why you have propellers I guess.
Outdoors it's pretty wind-affected, as are any small drones, so avoid anything more than a breeze outside, and it won't drive on grass.
It does have a trick button too that lets you do flips in any direction. It's pretty cool but best done outside with a bit of height till you get used to it.
It's durable too. Initially I thought it would break easily, especially knowing how cheap it is but I've been bashing it around the house trying jumping flying tricks off tables and furniture for a while and not broken anything yet.
It’s a great mini quadcopter and a good enough RC car. Having both features means when the wheels don’t have enough power, engage the props and say goodbye to the ground.
Flight time I got was around 6-7 minutes purely airborne, but you’re generally going to mix it up and I found I could get 15 minutes balanced between driving and flying before the low battery warning lights came on. That’s excellent.
I’ve flown a lot of drones of various sizes and this one had me smiling from ear to ear. It really is fun. My new favourite office toy!
Type: Hybrid RC car/quadcopter
Width/ length: 210mm x 180mm
Radio control type: Supplied 2.4GHz RC style
Battery: Supplied 3.78V 600mAh
Operating range: Close, intended for indoor use
Flight time: 6-15m depending on driving/flying style
Price: $60 standard or $110 with Crash Pack
Where to buy: eBay
- Cheap, easy for beginners
- Safe to fly indoors
- Combines an RC car with a multirotor drone
- Fun for all ages, including big kids