T3 knows a thing or two about the best cordless lawn mowers, which is why I was keen to take a look at the all new Stihl RMA 443 VC. Stihl is one of the very best names in the lawn mower business today, and its more heavy duty AP System Lawn Mowers deliver a great range for those who need serious sward cutting potential.
The Stihl RMA 443 VC review here is designed to show what one of this range's more affordable models delivers, which retailing right now for roughly half a grand, presents a more realistic price point for many people who aren't gardening professionals themselves and can therefor justify super-high-end turf masters.
We start this Stihl RMA 443 VC review, though, with a short video showing me actually using this cordless lawn mower. This should hopefully give you a good idea as to what it looks like and how easy it is to maneuver.
Stihl RMA 443 VC review: testing video
Stihl RMA 443 VC review: design and build quality
Take the Stihl RMA 443 VC out of its box and you're immediately hit by the characteristic Stihl colorway, as well as how sturdy and robust its housing and frame is. Lifting the 443 VC is made a bit easier, though, by two grab handles being built into bodywork, one at the front and one behind the battery housing.
What also makes maneuvering (and storing) the Stihl RMA 443 VC is the fact that its handlebar assembly is foldable, with a metal catch locking it in place or unlocking it for collapse.
The handlebar assembly is where the action takes place in terms of the majority of the lawn mower's control, with a single cable running up the handle bar strut. Controls on the handle consist of a vario drive speed lever, which is for dictating how fast the mower will self-propel, as well as a power button and brace of frame levers which when pushed or pulled into the central handle initiate cutting and propulsion.
A dominant part of the Stihl RMA 443 VC's design, which is impossible to miss, is its elevated battery port and storage assembly, which sits directly on top of the mower's blade housing. Open this up and you are presented with the mower's battery port (you just slide a battery in) and a spare battery storage bay (so you can quickly swap batteries and continue mowing).
This assembly also houses the mower's Eco mode switch, which when activated ensures the speed of the lawn mower motor is automatically adapted to the actually required power, thereby saving energy and improving runtime, as well as the mower's activation key. Remove the activation key and the mower won't work, which is good for keeping children safe.
In terms of the mower's blade system, it comes with flow-optimised blades, which are designed to trim grass with minimal resistance, which means swirling air within the housing as much as necessary. This again is designed to save energy and elongate battery life.
The Stihl RMA 443 VC's grass box connects by lifting a rear plastic flap and inserting it into a sculpted cavity. The box locks firms in place and I noticed no lateral movement during use.
The Stihl RMA 443 VC's wheels are made from dense, hard-wearing plastic and feature a traction pattern that is designed to aid directional stability – thereby making it easier to hold a course and mow in a straight line.
Finally, in terms of design the Stihl RMA 443 VC has six different cutting heights, ranging from 6 though to 1 (6 being the tallest and 1 being the shortest), and these are selected by pressing a button on the underside of the rear grab handle and lifting and sliding the connected mechanism. This lowers or lifts the mower's position to the ground.
Stihl RMA 443 VC review: performance and features
One of the biggest concerns for buyers when considering if to buy a cordless lawn mower is just how long it will run on its battery. After all, the last thing you want to do is be faced with am unwanted wait to finish a mow due to lack of battery power. Ideally, most users won't want to buy multiple batteries either, which is an added expense.
The Stihl AP 200 battery supplied with the Stihl RMA 443 VC, though, is not only quick to charge but delivered enough power for me to mow my sizeable rear garden, and small front garden, and still have power to spare. The AP 200 displays its power with 4 LED lights on its front, and after starting with a full 4 by the time I had finished I was on 1.
As I mentioned above, though, if you're buying this mower because you have multiple large gardens that need mowing, then you should absolutely purchase a second AP 200 battery, as the Stihl RMA 443 VC has a dedicated storage compartment in it for storage. This means that even if you did expend all the energy in your primary battery you can, within seconds, swap the batteries and continue mowing.
My experience with the vario drive system on the Stihl RMA 443 VC was great, too, which was good as this mower is not something you'd want to push round manually for extended periods due to its weight. The drive motor is engaged by pulling a frame lever toward you on the grab handle, and its speed is dictated by a vertical level on the handle that shows a small picture of a tortoise and a hare.
Naturally, position the lever towards the tortoise and the mower will be propelled at a slow rate, while if you position it toward the hare then it moves forwards automatically much quicker. There are multiple speed levels selectable, so depending on the user/scenario a comfortable propulsion can always be selected.
I found myself with the propulsion system set roughly in the middle and engaging it on straights while releasing the actuation level when turning the mower.
So, while propulsion is handled by pulling a frame lever toward the main grab handle, cutting is actuated by pushing another frame lever towards it (see image below). This system works well as you can select either one on its own, or easily hold both together. For example, you may just want to cut manually without the propulsion system engaged, or you may want to simply move the mower without cutting but with greater ease and less effort.
I found the cutting power of the Stihl RMA 443 VC very strong and more than enough, even when cutting at a super low level 1 cutting height, to make short work of my unruly sward. Even cutting on Eco mode, the mower never got stuck or jammed, and simply glided over the lawns. I also found the sound level emitted (maximum 91 dB) to be comfortable and I didn't feel I needed ear protectors.
I feel that unless you have a gigantic garden with many different gradients and surface types, then the Stihl RMA 443 VC will have ample cutting power. The results of its actions can be seen in the images and videos in this review.
Penultimately, let's talk briefly about the Stihl RMA 443 VC battery dock. This isn't included in the box and needs to be purchased separately, which is not ideal if you don't already own a charging dock, but not such a big deal if you already do. It is something to consider, though, when making a RMA 443 VC purchase, though, as it is extra expenditure.
As can be seen in the image below, this dock houses a single AP 200 battery at one time and connects to the mains with a standard kettle plug. Plug the battery in and its LED lights will flash and then fill as the battery is refilled with power.
Lastly, to engage either the cutting blade frame handle or that for the propulsion system, you have to simultaneously press a button on the side of the grab handle. This again is one extra safety mechanism that I really rated, as it means that no child can walk up to the mower and just grab one of the levers and start moving and/or cutting.
Overall, in terms of performance I had no complaints at all from the Stihl RMA 443 VC and it felt natural and intuitive to use.
Stihl RMA 443 VC review: verdict
So, there you have it – my Stihl RMA 443 VC review. I hope it has explained how I got on with this cordless mower and why I rate it highly.
It's a really well thought out and designed cordless mower that will be ideal in my mind for anyone with medium to large gardens, as it has the battery life, robust design, and cutting power to handle them.
I can easily say, though, that this will be too much mower for people with small gardens – it's simply OTT for those sorts of needs.
If you can afford it, though, then it offers great, wire-free lawn mowing and Stihl has one of the best names in the business for reliability, too, so I'm very confident it will go the distance.
You don't get quite the freedom that one of the best petrol lawn mowers gives you in terms of run time, and despite its self propulsion it isn't as effortless as running one of the best robot lawn mowers, but for serious assisted manual sward slaying it's one of the absolute best cordless mowers on the market today and easy to recommend.
More details about the Stihl RMA 443 VC Lawn Mower can be found on Stihl's official website.
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