RD Tech Review | VPG Elemento First Impressions

I’ve been fortunate enough to lay my hands on the upcoming Elemento high-end sim racing wheel from the team at VPG – and despite its pre-production status, the signs all point to this being a spectacular piece of hardware.
  • Standalone USB racing wheel.
  • Compatible with all quick release systems.
VPG Elemento 2.jpg


Firstly I will have to admit I’m rather addicted to sim racing wheels. Rally, road, oval or formula – custom-made or off the shelf – if it bolts to my wheelbase and I can go racing with it I’m usually pretty excited to get myself involved in the action.

Having now amassed a collection of wheels that constantly makes my wife both question my sanity and also my expenditure levels, I think it's reasonable to say I’ve got a fair idea of what a good piece of hardware looks like when I see it.

Normally I’m very much in favour of the replica race car design that you find so often within the sim racing marketplace, and when I started talking with the team over at VPG a few months ago, and they promised to send me over a wheel to review, I got pretty excited about the prospect of one of their Porsche or Ferrari rims coming my way.

Alas, as the weeks and months passed, the idea was floated to me about having a look at a new wheel currently in the design phase, that was broadly described as “a bit different, and based on the kind of style you might find in an aircraft”. Needless to say, at this statement my interest was piqued, but my heart sank a little. This was only ever going to go one of two ways – awesome, or awful.

VPG Elemento 11.jpg


Early renderings and teaser shots came my way in the following weeks, and I’ll readily admit I found myself surprised by how much I’d started to like the concept, from the flow of the lines to the obvious attention to detail that had been lavished on the wheel to ensure both form and function would be served in equal measure – however I’d still not seen the finished article in full – that would have to wait until a box arrived in the post a few weeks later.

VPG | More Information: Click Here.

While awaiting a pre-production prototype to be built, tested and shipped, I decided to have a little look at the company more closely, as it’s fair to say that I suspect many of the people reading this article probably won’t be aware of VPG, and frankly they certainly had all the right things to say about their products and goals, and in conversation everyone with whom I spoke to all came across as very warm and friendly, but in an age of home built sim racing hardware, promises of premium products aren’t always backed up when the money changes hands, and you take possession of the items in question.

Running through the various social media posts it certainly looks like the team have an impressive start to life as a wheel manufacturer, progressing from 3D printed designs to much more durable and solid aluminium and carbon fibre constructions with their previous Porsche and Ferrari products, with the Elemento representing the first attempt of the company to bring to the market their own custom designed wheel. It would be fair to say my level of expectation had already risen considerably ahead of receiving an early build version to review.

Then came the day of shipment…

Now, I’m not going to go into considerable detail here about the wheel itself, that I will leave to the full review video and article we will produce once the team send out the finalized public version of the rim in early April, however even in this pre-production state I was immediately hit by not only by the striking visuals of the design, but by the sheer quality of the materials and build of the rim – it really does immediately feel like a very high end and well build piece of hardware – from the inch perfect finish to the outer shell and backing of the wheel, to the virtually seamless and rock solid integration of the LCD that makes up much of the front of the design. Even little things like how the shifters and clutch are formed to complement each other in their shape – those little details, that small aesthetic touch really stands out the moment you lift it into your hands.

VPG Elemento 5.jpg


Damn pretty, customizable and solid as a rock – that’s a pretty fine foundation on which to start.

Having run the rim now for a week or so I’ve come across precisely zero issues in either the design or construction, although I did suggest to the team it would be nice to have slightly firmer buttons on the rim, which is feedback they have taken onboard and will be added to the public release version of the hardware.

VPG Elemento | Pre-Order: Click Here.

I’ve not had a significant amount of time with a formula style rim like this one before, and I really enjoyed the benefits of the LCD (powered by SimHub with the Elemento specific profile – although you can set your own if you so wish), and I’ve found it comfortable on both long and short runs in the rig, as well as it performing exactly as I expected.

VPG Elemento 8.jpg


Having spoken with the team just recently, the new version of the wheel will differ slightly from the one that I’ve been running up to now, as it will include a single USB lead that powers both the screen and the electronics within the wheel itself, it will have injection moulded rubber grips as opposed to the Alcántara on this version, changes to the buttons to add a firmer press will be applied and the rear of the wheel with the adapter for the quick release will be enhanced to give a more uniform and aesthetically pleasing finish. Oh and yes, folks who pick one up for themselves will also have a choice of colours to choose from, their name and number engraved on the back, and a unique model number that shows which of the planned 75 units they own (with this one being 00 for pre-production).

VPG Elemento 12.jpg


All in all my expectations have been surpassed with this wheel, and I can’t wait to give the finished version a try and share with you all my full final thoughts and review in the coming months!



Stay tuned to RaceDepartment.com in the coming months for the full VPG Elemento final version wheel review video and article – coming this April!

For more information on VPG, check them out here.



VPG Elemento 7.jpg

VPG Elemento 9.jpg
VPG Elemento 6.jpg
 
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RaceDepartment Editor-in-Chief, occasional YouTuber, commentator and broadcaster, with a passion for motorsport on both the real and virtual racetrack.

CC

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Build quality looks exceptional on it but spending that kind of money I’d really want some injected moulded grips which would last, just my personal preference.
 

Paul Jeffrey

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Build quality looks exceptional on it but spending that kind of money I’d really want some injected moulded grips which would last, just my personal preference.

Hey Scott - actually that's one of the changes that comes to the public release version. Injection moulded as standard with Alcántara as an option. Same thoughts I had, Alcántara looks epic but just doesn't have the long term durability
 
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Barry Waterfield

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Its a shame any Quality simracing hardware is beyond the average racers wallet.

I am running a G29 and had to wait for a deal so I could justify spending over £200 on what is essentially a game controller.
From what I can see due to prices and from what I have seen on servers "simracing" is "pay to win"

I am in awe of the interchangeable wheels and high quality pedal sets etc and until I can afford (lottory win needed) this gear I will not be able to make up the 2 second deficit on ANY online server in any sim. This seems to be due from lack of pedal feel on my G29 set.


Back to topic though that does look pretty nice, but for over £1k it should do.
 

CC

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Hey Scott - actually that's one of the changes that comes to the public release version. Injection moulded as standard with Alcántara as an option. Same thoughts I had, Alcántara looks epic but just doesn't have the long term durability
Yes its good to have that option with them also be really nice to have a good set of labels also feels Vesaro like to me you know like colored F1 labels set with it when it comes those yellow ones too much for me, build quality is awesome though and the names on the back is a great touch!

dont under estimate the power of color!
 
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TheNatural

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build quality and features seem nice, but i'm not sold at that price, especially when it's profile looks like ET's skull shape
 

CDwyer

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This is my hobby, not my profession, nor my family, nor house maintenance, or anything else I'd spend that kind of money on a peripheral.
Am I jealous of those that have the spare cash for this? Too bloody right I am!
 
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Slapped

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Its a shame any Quality simracing hardware is beyond the average racers wallet.

I am running a G29 and had to wait for a deal so I could justify spending over £200 on what is essentially a game controller.
From what I can see due to prices and from what I have seen on servers "simracing" is "pay to win"

I am in awe of the interchangeable wheels and high quality pedal sets etc and until I can afford (lottory win needed) this gear I will not be able to make up the 2 second deficit on ANY online server in any sim. This seems to be due from lack of pedal feel on my G29 set.


Back to topic though that does look pretty nice, but for over £1k it should do.
It's not really. There's a lot of top sim racers that still use beaten up old G25s. It's like many sports; having really good equipment might give you a slight edge if you are absolutely at the top, but for everybody else it is essentially a vanity purchase.

Having a top end DD wheel with load cell pedals isn't going to turn a sim racing Lord Maheveer into a sim racing Senna simply through an equipment upgrade. A talented driver with a G29 is always going to dominate a klutz with €50'000 of equipment.

If anything sim racing hardware is very much more pay for immersion rather than pay to win.
 

TheNatural

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From what I can see due to prices and from what I have seen on servers "simracing" is "pay to win"
There are websites that tell you the fastest laps in AC with any given car on any given track, you can also see the equipment many of them use, it's overwhelmingly "cheaper" simracing equipment.

Outside of a load cell pedal there is really nothing pay-to-win at any level, tbh. In fact, I would say that once you go into the realm of motion/VR you're probably sacrificing a bit of performance.
 

VernWozza

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It's not really. There's a lot of top sim racers that still use beaten up old G25s. It's like many sports; having really good equipment might give you a slight edge if you are absolutely at the top, but for everybody else it is essentially a vanity purchase.

Having a top end DD wheel with load cell pedals isn't going to turn a sim racing Lord Maheveer into a sim racing Senna simply through an equipment upgrade. A talented driver with a G29 is always going to dominate a klutz with €50'000 of equipment.

If anything sim racing hardware is very much more pay for immersion rather than pay to win.
Couldn't agree more. I am still quicker on my CSL elite over the DD2 I have on loan at the moment. Why? because I have thousands of hours on my CSL and only a handful on the DD2, i'm just more practiced with the CSL. I am more consistent with the DD2 but not quicker over a lap per se.

Some of the fastest folks I know won't let go of their G27s.
 

TheNatural

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Couldn't agree more. I am still quicker on my CSL elite over the DD2 I have on loan at the moment. Why? because I have thousands of hours on my CSL and only a handful on the DD2, i'm just more practiced with the CSL. I am more consistent with the DD2 but not quicker over a lap per se.

Some of the fastest folks I know won't let go of their G27s.
Also I had a SC2 with a really amazing button box, an incredible rig, and a valve index and I was slow. So I think I wholly disprove the pay-to-win theory.
 

TRASGU

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I am running a G29 and had to wait for a deal so I could justify spending over £200 on what is essentially a game controller.
From what I can see due to prices and from what I have seen on servers "simracing" is "pay to win"

until I can afford
(lottory win needed) this gear I will not be able to make up the 2 second deficit on ANY online server in any sim. This seems to be due from lack of pedal feel on my G29 set.
Oh boy, I have very bad news for you. The hardware that you need to change is the one that sits just behind the wheel and pedals and it isn't your gloves and socks.

Let's have a quick watch to the RSR hotlapping leaderboard to see the best laps ever done in a popular combination: Ferrari GT2 at Spa.

Fastest laptime from 247 people taking part: Accuforce wheel with Fanatec clubsport V3 pedals
Second fastest 0.168 seconds slower: Logitech g920 wheel and pedals
Third fastest 3 tenths slower: Logitech G27 wheel and pedals
Fourth fastest 5 tenths slower: Logitech G27 wheel and pedals

Other popular combo, BMW M3 gt2 at imola:

Fastest laptime from 326 drivers: Fanatec clubsport wheel and pedals
Second fastest 0.067s slower: Logitech G25 wheel and pedals
Third fastest 0.247 from best ever: Logitech G25 wheel and pedals
Fourth fastest 0.327 from best ever: Logitech G27 wheel and pedals

Other popular Abarth 500 EsseEsse at Vallelunga - Club:

Fastest laptime from 934 drivers: Fanatec clubsport wheel and pedals
Second fastest 0.112s slower: Logitech G27 wheel and fanatec pedals
Third fastest 0.276 from best ever: Logitech G25 wheel and pedals
Fourth fastest 0.369 from best ever: Logitech G25 wheel and revzped pedals

Bonus: Gregger Huttu leaded the gplrank hotlap in where at the time took part more than 11000 people and he beated people with g25 and with g27 with this wheel and pedals:



I wouldn't classify G25 and G27 as Pay to win, let's see for how much those wheels have been sold recently in ebay:

A G25 has been sold at uk at feb 13 2021 for 102.85€ with both wheel and pedals.

A G27 has been sold at Italy at feb 14 2021 for 150€.

You have said to have a G29: a g29 has been sold for 189.78€ at the US at feb 14 2021.

With all that data gathered the g25 seems to be the fastest hardware available, and it can be purchased from 102.82€, so basically if you sell your G29 for 189.78 and you buy a G25 you will have a faster hardware and earn 89.93€ in the process. But that is only if we suppose that it really is pay to win. The reality is that a G29 is newer and more evolved hardware than a G25. So, you are 2 seconds slower, not your gear.

And you wasted 89.93€.
 
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Andrew_WOT

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Looks like thumbs are in contact with unpadded plastic portion at the top. First time I see design like this, might not be super ergonomic for longer stints.
 
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CC

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Looks like thumbs are in contact with unpadded plastic portion at the top. First time I see design like this, might not be super ergonomic for longer stints.
Yes it’s up there with top tier cube controls, Rexing and PSE kind of prices, although I really like the quality the manufacturing of it + the engraving which is nice for the owner but be an hard sell trying to pass it on to another user unless it was much cheaper with it been so customised and personal, I think out of 3/4 wheels in this price range would be my last choice, seems 30/40% overpriced.
 
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2stains

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I wonder how long before Fanatec put a decent size screen like this in one of their affordable type wheels? People are going to say cost but I can get a fairly nice phone that is more than a screen new for $100. Why should it cost so much to incorporate a nice LCD screen into a wheel rim?
I'm waiting Fanatec.
 
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Slapped

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The hardware that you need to change is the one that sits just behind the wheel and pedals and it isn't your gloves and socks.
It's meatware, not hardware, just sayin

I know you didn't direct this at me, but honestly I'm 2 - 3 seconds a lap off the best drivers - and that's with a tailwind going downhill, but I'm happy with my "meatware". I'm not into sim racing to be the best, I'm into it because I enjoy it.

I don't think it's fair to criticise somebody who maybe slower than you like that. A lot of us here are pushing a fair few years and don't have the reactions and precision we could demonstrate 30 or 40 years ago. Even back then I doubt I would be anything more than average.