In the autumn of 2015 Fanatec released upgraded versions of their most serious simulator gadgets for the dedicated sim racing enthusiast. We received them in November last year and are now ready to tell you exactly what we think of the following combination: Fanatec ClubSport Wheel Base V2, Club Sport GT Xbox One Wheel, Club Sport Steering Wheel Universal Hub Xbox One and Club Sport Pedals V3. The latest line of Club Sport products are all compatible with PC, PS4 or Xbox One. Of course it is support for Microsoft's latest console that is the big thing here, Fanatec has made a specific wheel embroidered with the logo of Forza Motorsport 6, plus a dedicated Xbox One hub which is wonderfully well-done. It's expensive, though... very expensive.
About £1500 is the price tag for all of this gear, everything is purchased separately, and you can both choose a simpler hub, a more straightforward wheel, and use cheaper pedals from Logitech or Thrustmaster, but if you want the best that the Germans at Fanatec have to offer then you'll have to spend a significant amount of money. Racing at the highest of levels is expensive, but then again we are talking about hand-built peripherals made from the same basic material used in the construction of, among other things, Porsche GT cars. Fanatec is not playing around here when they claim that they are making equipment of the same quality as real world racing gear from professional teams and organisations.
Let's start with the steering wheel base - the Fanatec ClubSport Wheel Base V2 - which is a lovely upgrade on the V1 version and an outrageously capable lump of technology. On the inside we find a brush-less, belt driven, high powered, servo motor that offers lots of dynamic control. The engine operates quietly, offering force feedback that at the highest settings will most likely snatch the arms off of weaker players. The base is made entirely in machine-cut, powder coated aircraft grade aluminum and the build feel is completely brilliant. This does not remind us for one second of traditional gaming peripherals, but brings fully fledged racing parts you'll find if you should rummage around in spare parts drawer of any LeMans racing team.
The Fanatec ClubSport Wheel Base V2 provides an incredibly soft and smooth handling of the rotation, and even though we really went looking it is completely impossible to find any sort of dead spot in this system. Impossible. It support 900-degree rotation and the engine works in 500 Hz to update every single input much faster than you can perceive it. The base weighs 4.3 kg and the integrated Direct Sensor technology does wonders for sensitivity and precision. There is no doubt that this is a flawless product. We can't think of a single negative thing to say here except perhaps the price. About £575 for the base itself and, although it is worth every penny, it's only about half of what you need to get started.
The steering wheel base is compatible with PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One. You can use the pedals of both the Logitech G25, G27 and the newly released G29 if you would rather use them than Fanatecs own. The Club Sport Steering Wheel Universal Hub is a device packed with screw holes and buttons that can be attached to the back of an actual wheel, and then it can slide onto the steering base by means of a quick coupling procedure (the same type that we see in professional race cars).
Here we find 16 keys, including joysticks and the face-buttons on the Xbox One controller, everything to make the experience of Project CARS or Forza Motorsport 5/6 as smooth as possible.
The steering wheel we tested is recently released (the Xbox One specific Club Sport GT wheel) and it's a mildly erotic experience for any serious enthusiast. Brushed aluminum, genuine suede around the rim and a grip that is perfect. It weighs just enough, providing an incredible grip and my thumbs sneak up behind the crossbar in a perfect fit. The steering wheel is, like most sports wheels today, flat underneath and has a white mark on top to make it easy to keep track of how you're positioned in the corners when it comes to steering angle and centering.
Last but not least we have the new pedals that now support 12-bit transfer, and these are the single best racing pedals we have ever tested. The pedals are just like the rest of the products made of CNC aluminum, they feel great and the quality is sublime. The brake supports pressure of up to 90 kg and the clutch has just the right amount of resistance at the start before it gives in, just like in a proper race car. The accuracy and precision of how the pedals work is much higher than what Mad Catz, Logitech and Thrustmaster devices offer. An easy way to get quite a lot faster in, for example iRacing, Assetto Corsa or rFactor 2, is to upgrade to these pedals when you can feel the car's limits and choose narrower braking points with the kind of precision that the Clubsport Pedals V3 offer. The resistance of the brake pedals are fully adjustable and gas now gives feedback in the form of vibrations, this unlike V1 pedals (which we previously tested), which contributes to a very realistic feel.
Fanatec's latest Clubsport package is of course not for the uninitiated arcade player who intends to spend some time with Need for Speed or a spot of Forza Horizon 2. This is serious simulation gear for the super-dedicated sim enthusiast, and it's the best we've tested, ever. Certainly SimXperience Accuforce, Ricmotech and Sim Racing HW's custom stuff are also really good products for those who want to trim their best times on iRacing, but Fanatec is currently operating on a different level, and their overall setup is brilliant, stuffed with ingenious design solutions that demonstrate clever engineers and dedication to the simulated racing experience.