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EXCLUSIVE FIRST LOOK VIDEO | Next Level Racing F-GT Elite Cockpit


In a world exclusive RaceDepart are the first people on the planet to get access to the latest cockpit from Next Level Racing, the F-GT Elite. Here are our first impressions of this new Aluminium Profile Cockpit in the video above.

Disclaimer - Next Level racing have sent this unit for us to test on a long term loan but they have not asked us to say anything in particular about it and as always these views are our own.

This product was teased on RaceDepartment a few months ago in the form of the iRacing collaboration which was announced back March. At the time the reaction was a mixture of excitement and one of "Not another aluminium profile cockpit". But at the time we didn't have much to go on other than it was clearly a new 80/20 profile rig. Fast Forward to August and Next Level Racing announced the F-GT Elite and we saw instantly that this was perhaps a slightly more sophisticated rig than we first thought.

The first thing we need to address is the price. This thing isn’t cheap, it comes in at a hefty £999 here in the uk. Compared to cheaper Aluminium Profile cockpits and even similar products in its category it's on the high side. So in this first look of this new product we begin to try and answer the question of if it's worth the extra cost.

Packaging
No expense has been spared by Next Level Racing on the packaging for this product. It comes in a fancy retail packaging but more importantly everything is packed in a polystyrene mould which does a great job of protecting the precious cargo. Another nice touch is that all the parts are placed in the order in which you need them through the assembly process.

F-GT Elite Packaging.png


Assembly
I'm not very skilled at putting anything like this together so a decent set of instructions is essential and i'm glad to report that the instructions included with the F-GT elite are probably the best set of instructions I have ever seen from any sim racing product. The diagrams are clear and easy to follow and there is a QR code on each page linking to a video which shows the build process in some detail.

While putting the base frame together I noticed a couple of the T-Nuts were quite tight and I managed to scratch the matte finish profile. I must have been unlucky as the rest of the T-Nuts were absolutely fine and it was just the first two that I tried which caused a problem.

One thing that I absolutely loved about this build is the laser etched guides on the wheel mount columns and the pedal mounts. This enables you to precisely match your parts on both sides so they are symmetrical. A tape measure would work equally fine but the fact you don't need one means you can get racing even quicker.

F-GT Elite Laserr etched.png


Design
As someone with a design background I can’t help but be blown away by the way this thing looks. Make no mistake, Next Level have done an absolutely incredible job with this. If this was a car we would be comparing it to something like a McLaren or Ferrari, it's that level of finish. From the exquisite matte treatment on the profile, the custom end caps and the stunning colour of the red anodised wheel mounting plates; this thing is gorgeous. If design and a good looking product is important to you then you will love this cockpit.

Seating positions
Another neat design feature of this product is the different seating positions. The F-GT Elite is called as such because the F stands for Formula and the GT stands for, well, GT. Both a Formula and GT seating position are possible with this cockpit. You can tilt the chair and position the pedals in any way that suits you. There is also a hybrid position which is a mix between the two. The hybrid mode is great for people who like to try different cars and sims.

As well as being able to move the seat and pedals you can also adjust the wheel into the precise position you wish. As the wheel bracket allows for a decent amount of tilt. Also the wheel mounting columns are pretty tall so it will likely be able to suit all manner of driving positions. As we have only had this rig for a short period of time we are yet to try all the different seating positions but we will try them all over the next few months and include our thoughts in our long-term review.

F-GT Elite Hybrid.png


Build Quality
Quite simply, this thing is built like a tank, I have been putting it through it's paces in the short time i've had it and I haven't experienced any flex at all. I have really pushed it by testing it with 100% force feedback on the Simucube and the rig just doesn't move. You would expect this from an Aluminium profile rig but it's good to see that the F-GT Elite is extremely tough.

A quick note, if you haven't seen this yet, check this out this is a video of someone literally jumping up and down on the pedal plates. I didn't recreate this test but honestly I would expect a similar result?


Possible improvements
I really like this product but there are a couple of things that I would like to have seen included. There is no monitor solution included in box, this is typical for products in this category but I think for the price it would have been nice to have something included. I bought a Next Level Racing single monitor stand and I assumed it would be fine but it didn't fit so I had to loosen the bolts to allow it to squeeze into place. The Elite Monitor Stands from Next Level Racing would work perfectly but at £349 it was out of my budget on this occasion. I have heard that there will be an integrated solution coming from NLR in the near future.

f-GT Elite Driving.png


The seat, we haven’t really spoken about the seat much as it is technically a separate product, this is the ELITE ES1 SIM RACING SEAT from Next Level and it too comes in at £349. We’ll review this in more detail at racedepartment.com soon but the my thoughts on it are, it’s nice, but I don’t know if its the seat I would choose. Thats not to say it’s not right for you but I personally prefer a padded comfy gamer chair over this sort of solution. It seems to me that this type of seat is great for real world racing as it’s lightweight and compact but i’m not sure if those are really necessary criteria for sim racers. It sure looks cool but i’m not sure if its the most comfortable solution, especially for something like an endurance race. However, I have one big problem with it, and that is that i’m just too big for it. I’m 6 foot 3 and my head just reaches over the headrest cushion and rests on the edge, it’s not painful or even all that uncomfortable, but I notice it, and distractions like that in the heat of a battle are amplified. The jury is out on this seat for me, I will be sure to update you in the long term review soon.

Conclusions
So who is this product for? The price will rule out a huge chunk of the market that’s a given. But I don’t think Next Level are aiming for the masses here, this is for the sim racer who wants a beautifully designed, no compromise rig that screams quality; and arguably that chunk of the market is just as valuable as the larger mass market. One example of this is that all the parts you need to convert this to a motion rig are included in the box, this is who they are aiming at, people that can afford to turn this thing into a motion rig.

Next Level have also gone to some lengths to make sure this is as user friendly as possible from the moment you open the instructions and unwrapping all of the tools provided (including a little ratchet wrench thing which is just amazing) to completing the build, it’s super straight forward.

And that's it isn't it? That’s where the value is in this product. Yes it’s in the attention to detail and build quality but it’s also in the support that is offered with the detailed instructions, the included tools, the how to videos, and from what I understand some pretty decent after sales support. That stuff doesn’t come for free and that's why this product is priced the way it is.

Personally I love it, I think this is one of the best sim racing products I have ever used. Would I buy one? Yeah if I had the money. But realistically my budget wouldn’t stretch this far, no matter how much I truly love the design and ease of assembly. But if you are looking for a top end aluminium profile cockpit, and you do have the budget for it, I think your money would be very well spent here.

This is just our first impressions and we will re-review this product in the long term review in the next few months.

Let us know what you think of the Next Level Racing F-GT Elite in the comments below.
About author
Steve Worrell
A motorsport fanatic and sim racer for over 20 years. Content creator for RD, and MD at Simracing.gp. Favourite sims include ACC, AC, RF2, AMS, WRC9 - VernWozza#7419 @vernwozza

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Comments

For a product that is nominally about Formula and/or GT simming, folks thus far seem amazingly coy about avoiding
any demonstration of the steps and time involved when switching between those configurations.
Also IMO, that DD wheelbase mount seems pretty sketchy and more than a bit compromised for the price.
 
I agree with Slapped on this being a great review. I own several Next Level products, and all are top quality. The one time I had an issue with my V3 motion, their customer support corrected the matter in an extremely short period of time. I am hooked on Next Level products, and it's the first place I will look if I buy another product.
 
For a product that is nominally about Formula and/or GT simming, folks thus far seem amazingly coy about avoiding
any demonstration of the steps and time involved when switching between those configurations.
Also IMO, that DD wheelbase mount seems pretty sketchy and more than a bit compromised for the price.
Yeah I haven’t tried moving from one to the other yet but I will test it and include it in the long-term review. I estimate it would take about 15 - 20 mins to change between the various positions.

The wheelbase mount is rock solid. Quite literally not experienced any movement at all since using it and I’ve been testing with 100% FFB to really push it.
 
I agree with Slapped on this being a great review. I own several Next Level products, and all are top quality. The one time I had an issue with my V3 motion, their customer support corrected the matter in an extremely short period of time. I am hooked on Next Level products, and it's the first place I will look if I buy another product.
Yeah, I know what you mean - I've got their floor mat. Never had a problem with it at all.
 
I bought a next level racing rig once, it was absolute junk, pieces didn't fit together properly looked like the parts had been left on the floor with no care, covered in scratches & paint coming off. customer service didn't want to know about it.
This was some years ago maybe 7.
 
For me, the multiple seating position is the big attraction. If I only wanted a standard seating position I would go with the proven Sim-Lab rig. I think the Sim-Lab would be cheaper. If you can really change from formula to GT seating in 5 minutes, I would think they are on to something.
 
Clever, simple and interesting, I like the concept.

Then I look the price..., yeah, another product for the dentist demographic. I take note of it for a possible future DIY project, if the chinese don't take notice of it first and made a cheap knockoff kit first.

1500€ for this (rig+seat)? No thanks.
I thought it was quite clear in the review that this wasn't going to be a rig for everybody. And props to @Steve Worrell for evicting the elephant of cost out of the room right from the start, although I do think it could have been made clearer right from the start that the seat wasn't included. Maybe I missed it, but as far as I could see it was simply alluded to towards the end of the review.

But, in all honesty, you are not going to buy this rig to slap a Logitech G.* wheel on it. This is going to be bought by people who have, or will, drop a couple thousand euros on a DD and rims, plus 600 to a thousand on a set of upmarket pedals, not to mention the shifter and handbrake, and possibly a motion rig as well. All in all the rig might make it to 30% of the total cost of the setup, less if you include the high end PC.

As for me, well when I was younger I used to lust after stuff that I couldn't afford. Now that I can afford it I'm always asking myself this question - is it worth it? For the moment the answer for me is no as I'm still getting an immense amount of fun out of a TS-PC, Playseat Challenge and a couple of Buttkickers.
 
I thought it was quite clear in the review that this wasn't going to be a rig for everybody. And props to @Steve Worrell for evicting the elephant of cost out of the room right from the start, although I do think it could have been made clearer right from the start that the seat wasn't included. Maybe I missed it, but as far as I could see it was simply alluded to towards the end of the review.

But, in all honesty, you are not going to buy this rig to slap a Logitech G.* wheel on it. This is going to be bought by people who have, or will, drop a couple thousand euros on a DD and rims, plus 600 to a thousand on a set of upmarket pedals, not to mention the shifter and handbrake, and possibly a motion rig as well. All in all the rig might make it to 30% of the total cost of the setup, less if you include the high end PC.

As for me, well when I was younger I used to lust after stuff that I couldn't afford. Now that I can afford it I'm always asking myself this question - is it worth it? For the moment the answer for me is no as I'm still getting an immense amount of fun out of a TS-PC, Playseat Challenge and a couple of Buttkickers.
Yeah that’s a really good point I should have said the seat is a separate product at the start.

But yeah this is definitely not for everyone. I have a friend that when he gets into a hobby he goes all in, he’s got a ton of cash. This is the rig he would buy. It’s difficult to make aluminium profile look sexy but I really think NLR have done a good job with this.
 
I have heard that there will be an integrated solution coming from NLR in the near future.
On slanted uprights integrated monitor solution might be quite tricky, curios to see what they will come up with.
Why they are slanted anyway, is there a functional reason or just to look cool?
 
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Really nice review there Steve! I like the versatility of the rig although on the expensive side of things.
 
On slanted uprights integrated monitor solution might be quite tricky, curios to see what they will come up with.
Why they are slanted anyway, is there a functional reason or just to look cool?
I think the slant in the uprights are to enable the formula seating position.

One concern I have is how your eye position changes relative to the monitors for the different seating positions. Ideally your eye is level with the center of the screen.
 
Nice review.
"This thing just don't move" shows how it's moving :) Ok it's minor but still.
Unless you want that Formula/GT position swap option I don't see why should you pick this one over Sim-lab P1-X.
Btw it was hard to tell if that would solve monitor problem but it might be cheaper to buy extension for wheel shaft. Sim-lab and others have it.
 
Yeah that’s a really good point I should have said the seat is a separate product at the start.
Yeah, there's two things that I really want at the start of a review. One is the price, and the second is the product being reviewed with other additional chargeable products that might reasonably be expected to come with the product in question.

Both save me time and unwarranted excitement.
 

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