While it is a sad reality of life that most of us will never be able to climb into the cockpit of our favorite race cars and drive them the way they were intended, games and driving sim software have provided an outlet for many to fulfill those fantasies virtually. A racing simulation rig can heighten that experience, and even though you don't necessarily need to spend a ton to have a good time, a high-quality hardware setup pays off in making the software much more immersive. A nice set of pedals, shifter, and a handbrake all do their part to make your sim racing experience more realistic, as do a good wheelbase and steering wheel, and it is the tiller we address today, specifically using the Fanatec Podium Series Steering Wheel Porsche 911 GT3 R for our setup.
The Fanatec steering wheel tested is said to be a replica of the one found in an actual 911 GT3 R, which offers a nice bit of realism for our sim rig (plus if you're a Porsche fan, the wheel seems like a must-have). But does it actually make your sim racing experience even more lifelike? Or is it just a flex piece?
As soon as you pull the Podium Steering Wheel Porsche 911 GT3 R out of the fancy Fanatec boxes it came in, you start to realize you're not using some poorly made toy. Nothing feels cheaply made. Every aspect of the wheel feels very solid, well built, and even smells like a new road-version Porsche 911 GT3 RS, too!
The Fanatec Podium Steering Wheel Porsche 911 GT3 R you see is wrapped in suede but also comes in leather. Quick tip: if you're debating which version to get, when using a steering wheel that has suede or alcantara, I highly recommend you use gloves. If you prefer not to wear gloves or if you have friends over, the leather option would be the better choice, but we'll leave that up to you.
The size of the rim itself measures at 320mm and is shaped in the form of a "D" steering wheel with a flat bottom, which helps give clearance by the knees while using it (this style of wheel is typically found in GT3 or cup cars and some OEMs have even adapted them for their sportier offerings, too). You'll also notice the suede version has a yellow center band while the leather version has a red band. Both wheels feature a center section in brushed aluminum finish.
Buttons & Shifter Paddles
Featuring a real carbon fiber plate and an insane number of available buttons and switches on the Fanatec Podium Button Module Endurance, it's hard to imagine ever finding yourself wishing for more. Most of them are placed very closely to where your thumbs naturally sit. The buttons can be labeled by using the sticker set that's included and mapped to your own personal taste, just as they would be on a real Porsche 911 GT3 race car.
The two 2-way toggle switches and two 12-position switches might require you to remove a hand to comfortably reach them, although with a little bit of use it won't really matter as you'll probably memorize most of them. On the top of the Fanatec Podium Button Module Endurance you'll see the RPM and flag LED's, which are customizable in the Fanatec Fanalab software. Also, there is an integrated OLED display for data telemetry while in game. At the time of review, the current firmware available is still in beta and has a limited telemetry display of speed, gear, lap times and position.
The Fanatec Podium Advanced Paddles, which are attached to the Fanatec Podium Hub, are easily accessible with a quick trigger-finger pull. The carbon fiber paddles also rotate with the wheel providing just the right amount of tension using neodymium magnets behind them to give you a tight and responsive feel when up-shifting and down-shifting, with perfect positioning and a nice soft click to them. Down below you'll find the F1-Style Dual Clutch Paddles, which are configurable as a handbrake or if you're someone who is disabled and enjoys sim racing, these paddles can be even mapped as brake and throttle. Kudos to you, Fanatec!
This is as realistic as it gets.
Setting up the badass Fanatec Podium Porsche 911 GT3 R Wheel on your slick Fanatec Podium Direct Drive wheelbase does require a windows PC to update to the latest firmware on the Podium Button Module Endurance and wheelbase. It's not an inconvenience; it's all done in a few moments. With the wheel installed, it did take a while for me to get comfortable with it, but as race sessions progressed, I got used to it. It certainly does add a bit of realism by actually pressing a button that is mapped or to adjust the brake balance by using the 12-postion switches.
Overall, there is a lot to like about the Fanatec Podium Steering Wheel Porsche 911 GT3 R wheel. Fanatec has developed something really cool here; it is surely a top-notch product, and this will take your experience to the next level. If you're the type of consumer who is unwilling to make comprises, then the Fanatec Podium Steering Wheel Porsche 911 GT3 R or any of their product line-up is worth the investment. Race suit, gloves and helmet are optional. More detailed specs and ordering information can be found at www.fanatec.com.
Fanatec Porsche 911 GT3 R Specs:
- Full-scale replica to the Porsche endurance GT3 race car
- Aluminum wheel rim with a 32cm diameter
- Metal Porsche badge with detailed 3D shape
- Podium Button Module Endurance
- Real carbon fiber front plate and internal metal reinforcements for maximum stability
- Full-scale replica to class-leading endurance GT3 racing car
- 10 buttons
- Two 2-way toggle switches
- Two 12-way Multi-Position Switches with Encoder Mode (endless rotation)
- One Funky Switch (7-way joystick/encoder)
- One analog joystick (2-axis)
- Nine RGB Rev LEDs
- Two flag LED groups with three RGB LEDs each
- Integrated 2.7" 256?64 resolution OLED display
- Clutch bite point indication on the OLED display (when used in combination with the Podium Advanced Paddle Module)
- Detachable button caps, compatible with other Fanatec button caps
- Reversible Data Port-C connector
- Customizable button labels (sticker set included)
- Podium Advanced Paddle Module (four magnetic paddles + two analog paddles)
- Paddle Plates made of real carbon fiber
- Cage made of CNC machined aluminum
- Neodymium magnets
- Hall sensors on the analog paddles
- Podium Hub
- Gold anodized aluminum monocoque
- Ultra-sturdy and lightweight space frame design
- ClubSport Quick Release Adapter (Supports interchangeable Quick Release)