Sim racing is serious business these days. It was already a big deal before being thrust into the spotlight earlier this as the non-virtual racing world was paused by Covid-19, and as a neat example of how far online motorsport has come, we have this steering wheel.
Built via a partnership between Fanatec and BMW, what you see here is both a gaming wheel and the steering wheel for the new 2022 M4 GT3. All of the wheels are built on the same production line, and if the gaming customer wants to, they can simply take the thing off Fanatec’s PS4/PS5 wheel base (it’s also PC compatible) using the quick release, and slot it straight into the racing car.
The main body of the 310mm diameter wheel is built from eight layers of carbon fibre, with the whole piece weighing in at a pleasingly substantial 1400g. Fanatec says it “meets rigorous environmental condition specifications for shock and vibration,” and it even has an IP65 rating for dust and water resistance. Unlikely to be something you’ll need in your living room, but it’s nice to know the wheel is exceptionally well made.
There are a total of 14 push buttons (12 on the front, two on the rear) which each require 700g of force to actuate, so there’s little chance of knocking something accidentally during some unintended opposite lock. The shift paddles are magnetic for satisfying action, and they’re a push/pull design, allowing you to up or downshift with the same paddle. There’s also a trio of backlit, 12-position rotary switches, two clutch paddles and a one-inch OLED screen.
BMW works driver Philipp Eng is clearly a fan. He said this to say of the wheel:
“You have to take your hat off to the pioneering role that BMW Motorsport and Fanatec have taken on here, and to the courage to implement a project of this kind. I know the people who were involved in the development at BMW Motorsport and at Fanatec, and never doubted that they would design a superb steering wheel.
Compared to the steering wheel in the BMW M6 GT3, for example, the new wheel has extremely good ergonomics. It is very comfortable to hold. You can tell that real professionals have been at work in every area.”
It’ll be available to buy at some point during the first half of 2021. No price has been given, but it doesn’t exactly sound cheap, does it? The M4 GT3 customer racer, meanwhile, will make its competition debut in 2022.