Simulator games allow us to partake in enjoyable activities at a fraction of how much they would usually cost in real life, with none of the consequences from crashing or from accidents. Flight simulators see you soar the skies, combat flight sims give you the opportunity to take down enemies again and again, and racing simulators let us experience iconic tracks in various cars without having to shell out some serious cash for either.
One of the long-awaited steering wheels in the race simulator sphere has finally arrived: the Fanatec Gran Turismo DD Pro. The kit comes with the Gran Turismo-specific wheel, the CSL DD. When we found out that we had a unit that we could try for ourselves in the office, pretty much every single one of us got giddy with excitement.
The first thing you notice with the DD Pro is how much force feedback you get from the wheel, thanks to it being a direct-drive wheel. We got the 8Nm version as well, and boy, does the extra torque show! Admittedly, I haven’t been on top of my exercise routine lately, but two laps around the Nordschleife and I had to take a break as my arms started aching from fatigue. Unless you’re expecting the forces that may result from hitting a barrier, your best bet to avoid injuring a limp wrist would be to simply let go of the wheel before you crash.
Granted, the amount of weighting and feedback that you get from it does enhance your experience by quite a massive amount. You can actually feel when the car starts to get squirrelly at speed, and the minute force transfers you get from the surface texture of the track just make the whole experience that much more realistic. The added weight of the wheel alongside the nuanced feeling of how the steering axis wants to center itself helps with making me a better driver as well. I notice how I’ve been much more adventurous with how close I’m getting to the track edge, yet my confidence as to where I can point the car never falters.
The steering wheel that comes with the GT DD Pro has been designed with Polyphony Digital, and the integrations you get not only on the PlayStation platform but also on the Gran Turismo 7 are evident and very much welcome. All the usual buttons that you see on a typical DualShock controller have been arranged on the wheel face, negating the need for a separate controller when accessing the menus. You also get a RevLED strip that lights up the top of the wheel when you need to shift, and an OLED display that gives you telemetry information (or speed).
Swapping the stock wheel out for the CSL McLaren GT3 V2 wheel gives a whole new layer of realism, with the wheel being a 1:1-scale replica of the actual GT3 steering wheel. It’s licensed by McLaren itself, so you know it’s legit. Shifting is incredibly crisp with the flappy paddles, and the on-the-fly turn switch remappable analog paddles give you control as you need it. The wheel is light yet incredibly sturdy, making for an incredible experience overall.
The pedals that come with the GT DD Pro are good, and that’s great praise considering those are some of the hardest things to get right with any simulator setup. You get incredibly fine and precise control for modulating either the brakes or the throttle, and the whole thing barely flexes nor creaks when doing quick inputs. You end up not having to think about them given how dependable they actually are, so you focus more on your footwork and driving in general. I can only imagine how good the brakes would actually feel with the optional load-cell upgrade, but the stock ones are definitely more than serviceable for quick and accurate pedal dancing.
Such a great experience does come with a caveat though: the price. This whole rig costs P68,000—definitely not chump change—with the McLaren wheel costing P17,500. Pricey for what is essentially just a gaming controller, but the performance and the precision that you get in exchange make for a rather compelling purchase. It’s a definite step up from the usual wheels you get, and it may be out of reach for the lot of us who have been putting their rigs together on a tight budget, but trust me when I say it will make the whole experience that much more amazing.