It's back, it's better than ever and it still looks outstanding on any sim rig - the Fanatec CSL Elite McLaren GT3 V2 sim racing steering wheel is here.
- 2nd generation McLaren sim wheel.
- Retails around 199.99 EU.
- Compatible with Fanatec wheelbase ecosystem.
I think it would be fair to say the original McLaren GT3 replica sim racing wheel from Fanatec was pretty well-received by the sim racing community, with drivers enjoying both the replica design of the real world car wheel, the functionality and the (relatively) reasonable price of purchase.
The passage of time would see a few issues crop up with the V1 design however, with some gamers pointing to a tendency to wear poorly over continued use, and the usual complaints about a less than robust shifting feeling when compared to something like the Podium wheel range alternatives.
Apparently Fanatec have been listening, and in recent days made the surprise announcement that a brand new V2 issue of this admittedly beautiful looking rim is on the way, with pre-orders already open ahead of a February 2021 provisional shipping date.
Improved in practically every area of the original design, but retaining the scale replica features of the original real world rim, the new V2 McLaren wheel can be considered a very worthy successor to its older brother, finally adding robustness to what was already an impressive looking piece of hardware.
- Scale replica of the real world McLaren GT3 rim.
- Compatible on both console and PC.
- Works with Fanatec CSL Elite and CSW v2 and Podium DD wheelbase with optional adaptor.
- Redesigned electronics over the original version.
- New magnetic shifters and duel clutch paddle system.
- Special multi-functional analogue paddle modes.
One of the most noticeable, and frankly most important aspects of the V2 wheel is the work Fanatec have put into improving both the feel and the functionality of the shifter mechanism within the design. Initially the first version felt a little "plastic" for want of a better word, and Fanatec appear to have addressed this issue with a new honeycomb design reinforced anodised aluminium single piece construction, with the added benefit of long throw magnetic shifting, very similar in design and feel to what players have become used to with the Podium Clubsport range of hardware.
As well as the actual materials used, Fanatec have also included a wide range of new functionality with the shifters on this latest rim. Throw into the pot a duel clutch mechanism for good measure, and players now have the ability to choose between four switchable modes of function, adding a fantastic clutch bite point feature for helping get a good launch from standing starts, a clutch and handbrake mode, a curious and quite nice option to program the paddles to act as brake and throttle rather than using the pedals, and a mappable axis mode for further customisation.
Another interesting aspect to this is the decision to form the shifters from a single piece of material on a rocker mechanism, which allows drivers the opportunity to shift up and down gears on the same side should you so choose, again opening up an option that doesn't appear too regularly with other wheel rim and button box designs currently within the marketplace today.
Material and construction wise, the V2 of this wheel is broadly rather similar to the original design, so shifters aside current owners of the V1 McLaren wheel should feel right at home once they bolt the new hardware onto their rigs at home.
Plenty of work has gone in behind the scenes to improve the electronics of the device, but from a visual point of view the McLaren V2 rim shares many characteristics of its older brother, although Fanatec have taken the opportunity to make some small adjustments and tweaks to the ergonomics and visuals of the rim.
Key changes from a visual perspective has to be the addition of a useful if somewhat small LCD in the middle of the rim, designed to help easily identify different modes engaged, plus nicely refreshed and updated rotary switches and of course the return of replaceable and customisation friendly button caps - something of a feature within the Fanatec range of wheel rims.
Retailing initially at 199,95 EUROS for the pre-order, this is a very, very nice piece of hardware at a more than reasonably price point. Anyone who likes officially licenced wheel rims and is part of the Fanatec ecosystem will undoubtedly find themselves plenty pleased with this surprise new release.
In summary, Fanatec seem to be stealing something of a march on the competition when it comes to officially licenced sim racing steering wheels, with this new rim coming hot off the heels of the recent big budget BMW GT3 wheel that the German brand announced not only for sim racing, but also to be used in the real GT3 car.
Of course, the CSL Elite McLaren GT3 V2 is certainly not in the same range of quality or price point as its BMW cousin, and to me that's very much a good thing, as Fanatec firmly look to place this wheel within the financial realities of a much wider range of sim drivers than some of their higher end products within the Fanatec family.
Improved significantly over the original wheel design, and with the welcome addition of a much more robust and satisfying shifter mechanism, it is surely going to prove difficult for Fanatec ecosystem owners to look past this rim when looking to add that touch of flair to their sim racing setup.