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LEGO Technic 42109 App-Controlled Top Gear Rally Car Review

Released back in December 2019, LEGO released its one and only Top Gear tie-in set: a Technic app-controlled rally car. It’s not exactly an iconic piece of Top Gear‘s history; rather, it’s a generic rally car emblazoned with Top Gear and ‘Stig’ branding. It’s also not a car that’s been featured in the series, if that’s important. But it is a pretty nice-looking car that packs in plenty of detail. Better yet, it has two motors powering it, meaning you can send it drifting around the legs of your dining room table. Well, almost.

But all that comes at a pretty price: £125. Which is a lot for a set of this size – it’s just 463 pieces. Is it worth the money?

LEGO Technic 42109 App-Controlled Top Gear Rally Car

  • RRP: £124.99
  • Number of pieces: 463 pieces
  • Release date: December 2019
  • Age rating: 9+
  • Time to build: ~3 hours

What’s in the box?

Inside LEGO Technic 42109 Top Gear Rally Car’s box, you’ll find an instruction booklet, a sheet of stickers, four un-numbered bags and a smaller box. The box is the most intriguing part here; it contains all the motors necessary to add power functions to the car.

Having unnumbered bags is a little surprising, but since there’s a fairly low piece count (463), it’s not much of a problem. What is a problem, however – which we’ll talk about shortly – is the sheer amount of stickers included. Argh!

The Build

We’re pleased to say that LEGO Technic 42109 App-Controlled Top Gear Rally Car is pretty satisfying to build. Despite its rather small number of pieces, it’s detailed enough that it provides a good few hours of building time, even to the most esteemed of LEGO builders.

The set’s downfall, though, is the sheer amount of stickers in use. As you can see from the image above, there’s quite a hefty amount; they cover the car front to back. Some of them are very small and fiddly, needing to go on the side of a brick. Others are fairly sizable, such as the big ‘Stig’ sticker in the middle which covers the roof of the car. Providing you can do a decent job of putting them on (some of ours are, annoyingly, not perfect) it’s passable as a car livery. It’s just a shame that some of the smaller ones couldn’t be printed for a bit more authenticity.

There are a few parts of the build that are a little fiddly, too. Working around the motors is, at first, a little tricky; you need to make sure the cables that pass between all parts are in the right place and arranged in such a way they’re not going to interfere with the build. The instructions do a decent enough job of illustrating where to twist the wires, and there are some colour-coded clips to help you keep them out of the way. But clip it in the wrong place and the cable will be too taut to reach where it needs to. Alas, if you’re used to building motorised LEGO models, then these issues will be all-too familiar to you.

Once you’re past the wires, it’s mostly plain sailing – aside from the odd fiddly alignment of plugs and holes. Yes, it’s a Technic set, so there’s a huge number of plugs used to attach pieces together. There’s a couple of occasions where you’ll build a chunk separately, then need to align it onto the actual model. The instructions aren’t always the clearest at highlighting exactly where parts should connect; but as long as you take care and check all your placements make sense, it shouldn’t prove too taxing.

When finished, LEGO Technic 42109 App-Controlled Top Gear Rally Car is a nice-looking model. It’s not huge, but it’s a decent size – its 26cm long by 14cm wide. And despite being fairly light (most of the weight comes from the motor and batteries), it feels solid. Which means when you inadvertently crash it into a door/wall/your cat, it’s not going to break into pieces.

The car alongside the app you use to control it.

Play or Display?

Considering the app-powered motor functions included in LEGO Technic 42109 App-Controlled Top Gear Rally Car, this should be a fairly easy question to answer. It’s undoubtedly a set that’s designed to play with. If you do want to put it on display, though, it’s a nice enough looking car that it’ll happily take up space on a shelf next to non-motorised sets. But why would you want to do that when you can drive it around?

Controlling the rally car is fun, but somewhat basic. There are separate controls to move forwards and backwards as well as turning the car, so you have a decent amount of control over where it goes. You can also switch to gyro controls if you prefer, tilting your phone left and right to steer. That’s more fun – although perhaps not as accurate, depending on your phone. It’s a little on the slow side though; you’d expect a rally car to be able to build up some decent speed, but unless you have a lot of space to to a straight drag run, it’s not exactly breakneck pace.

Here it is in action:

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Value for Money?

If you’re a traditional LEGO set builder, nonplussed by the technical functionality of a motorised set, then £125 sounds extreme for a sub-500 piece set. But if you are a fan of remote-controlled cars or LEGO’s Control range of powered Technic sets, then it becomes a more interesting investment. The mechanics of LEGO Technic 42109 App-Controlled Top Gear Rally Car are what you’re paying for: inside, there’s a Smart Hub with an XL motor and a separate L motor. Pop in six AA batteries (not included), download the Control app on your phone, sync them up and away you go.

Is the LEGO Technic Top Gear Rally Car worth its asking price, then? If you’re looking for a LEGO RC car, then yes. Since its release, there are slightly cheaper app-powered sets, like 42124 Off-Road Buggy, but we’d argue that the Top Gear Rally Car is a much nicer, more solid, looking set. As such, it’s still one of the best value Control-powered sets out there.

However, if you’re just interested in building a Technic car model and aren’t bothered about the app functionality, there are much better options out there. The McLaren Senna GTR (42123) is a fraction of the price (£44.99) and has almost double the number of pieces (830). Or for just £15 more than the Top Gear Rally Car’s asking price, you can get the huge Porsche 911 RSR (42096), which has 1,580 pieces and is almost twice the size when built.

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