New Makita 18V SubCompact Drill and Impact Driver Kit, but is it an Upgrade?

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Makita has come out with new 18V SubCompact brushless drill and impact driver combo kit, model CX203SYB.

At first glance it looks like it could be an upgrade compared to their existing kit, but there are a couple of things to look out for.

Most notably, compared to their regular combo kit, Makita has downgraded the batteries, from 2.0Ah to 1.5Ah, and they also downgraded the charger from their regular fast charger to their “standard” charger that typically only appears in value-oriented and promo combo kits.

Spec-wise, there don’t seem to be any noticeable changes between these new models and their predecessors, as their on-paper specs are largely the same.

Makita 18V 1-5Ah Battery Pack

Makita lists the 1.5Ah battery as discontinued on their website, and as far as I am aware, it lacks the built-in battery fuel gauge of the compact 2.0Ah battery and modern higher capacity batteries.

Makita’s typical $99 seasonal-promo cordless drill and impact driver combo kits still aren’t discounted for Father’s Day (they’ve been holding at $119 while Dewalt and Milwaukee kits are already on sale), and so maybe this combo kit and separate drill and impact driver kits will be Makita’s new promo kits?

Makita CX200RB Sub-Compact Cordless Drill and Impact Driver Combo Kit
Makita CX200RB Sub-Compact Cordless Drill and Impact Driver Combo Kit – Older Model

Shown here is Makita’s CX200RB 18V Sub-Compact brushless drill and impact driver combo kit.

At the time of this posting, you can buy it for $219 via Amazon. The new kit, CX203SYB, is $229 at Home Depot.

Makita CX203SYB Key Features & Specs

Makita CX203SYB Cordless Combo Kit

Cordless Drill (XFD15ZB)

  • 1/2″ chuck
  • 350 in-lbs max torque
  • 0-500/0-1700 RPM
  • Weighs 2.9 lbs with battery
  • LED worklight

Cordless Impact Driver (XDT18ZB)

  • 1/4″ hex chuck
  • 1,240 in-lbs max torque
  • 0-1,300/0-3,000 RPM
  • 0-2,000/0-4,100 IPM
  • Weighs 2.6 lbs
  • LED worklight

Makita SubCompact Comparisons

Makita 18V SubCompact Cordless Drill Comparison XFD11ZB vs XFD15ZB
Left: XFD11ZB (older model); Right: XFD15ZB (new model)

Compared to the older/previous subcompact drill (XFD11ZB), the new model (XFD15ZB) is a little heavier (2.9 lbs vs. 2.8 lbs), but the two tools have the same speed range and max torque rating.

The two tools are hard to tell apart, and there don’t look to be any significant differences, good or bad.

Makita 18V SubCompact Brushless Impact Driver Comparison XDT15ZB vs XDT18ZB
Left: XDT15ZB (older model); Right: XDT18ZB (new model)

Compared to the older/previous subcompact impact driver (XDT15ZB), the new model (XDT18ZB) has the same max torque, the same weight, and slightly improved speeds.

Similar to the drill, if you don’t look closely enough, you’d think these were the same tool.

Price: $229

Buy Now via Home Depot
Compare: Older Combo via Amazon

The older kit is priced at $218.93 via Amazon at the time of this posting. It’s bundled with a rapid charger and 2x 2.0Ah batteries.

New Makita SubCompact Drill Kit XFD15SY1B

Makita XFD15SY1B 18V SubCompact Cordless Drill Kit

Makita has also launched a new SubCompact drill kit, XFD15SY1B.

This kit comes bundled with (1) 1.5Ah battery and a “standard” charger.

One think I never liked about Makita’s 18V SubCompact cordless drill was its cramped torque clutch dial, which I found to be clunky to adjust. It doesn’t look like this has been improved in the new model. If this is your primary drill, I’m sure you’ll get used to the mechanics and quickly adapt your muscle-memory.

Price: $159

Buy Now via Home Depot
Compare: Older Kit via Amazon

New Makita SubCompact Impact Kit XDT18SY1B

Makita XFD15SY1B 18V SubCompact Impact Driver Kit

The new Makita Subcompact impact driver kit, XDT18SY1B, is also bundled with (1) 1.5Ah battery and “standard” charger.

Price: $159

Buy Now via Home Depot
Compare: Older Kit via Amazon


Why Makita is bundling these Subcompact brushless tool kits with 1.5Ah capacity batteries? Makita USA lists these batteries as discontinued, and I don’t believe they were ever upgraded with built-in battery fuel gauges. You can’t see the back of the batteries in any of the product images, and so I assume there’s no fuel gauge or they’d show it.

Personally, I find this very disappointing, and not just because of the capacity downgrade and likely absence of a state of charge indicator. Makita seems to have avoided playing marketing games with the battery selection in their promo-priced cordless kits, and so 1.5Ah batteries in premium brushless tool kits seems very uncharacteristic for the brand.

I suppose with lower capacity batteries, users won’t notice or mind as much that the charger isn’t Makita’s typical 18V rapid charger. But the charger selection, like the 1.5Ah batteries, is usually a cost-cutting measure, and one I wouldn’t have expected here.

From what I can tell, the new Subcompact tools aren’t much different from their preceding models, except for the impact which has slightly improved speed specs.

Will these new models replace existing SKUs, or be sold alongside them?

With few apparent differences, why buy these new models over their predecessors?

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

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