HPI usually has a good enough car to get everyne inot the hobby. Their RS4 and SS series aren't quite good enough for competitve racing but may be suited for club level sportman. Now their R40 may be different.
My kids have had them and personally I never owned for myself. In the long run, you spend all the money you save in repairs and upgrades. But for beaters, they get the job done if you live close enough to a shop, since everybody carries their stuff.
AE has good stuff and most LHS carry their stuff too. That NTC3 can be dialed in so well that you couldn't kick it loose while on the track [unless it was me driving it, then I couldn't glue it on the track to go straight...