There is a new kid in town again in the Fanatec product range. Well, new? Fanatec recently announced the ‘CSL Elite Steering Wheel McLaren GT3 V2‘ as the successor to the ‘CSL Elite Steering Wheel McLaren GT3’. It wasn’t available from Fanatec for a while, and now we know why. The steering wheel can be purchased for € 199.95 and for an additional € 99.95 you can purchase the optional metal ClubSport Quick Release adapter. Fanatec again kindly sent us a copy along with the optional ClubSport Quick Release. So we were allowed to put him to the test and share our findings with you. Something that we love to do for you!
The steering wheel
It’s fair to say that the original Fanatec McLaren GT3 steering wheel is quite popular within the sim racing community. A nice replica design of the real car steering wheel with good functionalities for a reasonable price. However, there were also many complaints about a number of problems with the previous design, such as the wear and the feeling during shifting (which was not there) with the analog paddles. Fanatec listened carefully to the community and from this the V2 was born. This is a greatly improved McLaren GT3 steering wheel while retaining the characteristics of the steering wheel used in the racing world in the McLaren 650S GT3 and MP4 12C GT3.
Since we have not tried the previous version ourselves, we can only say very little about a comparison between the old version and the new V2. This wheel is a completely new experience for us. The steering wheel is compatible with Xbox, Playstation (when used in combination with a compatible wheelbase) and with PC. This means you can use is on any platform and if there are any restrictions they will be coming from within the games themselves.
In the beginning we were a bit skeptical about the quality due to its low price, but the build quality is surprisingly good. It consists of a fully plastic housing with a carbon print and the striking McLaren GT3 logo. The handles are made of a thick elastomer which feels nice and has a good grip to it.
On the front you will find a new (revised) type of rotary encoders between the necessary buttons, with which you could operate up to 54 functions. The N (neutral) and P (pit limiter) buttons are slightly larger than the other buttons and have a protective edge so that you cannot accidentally press it while racing. In the center of the steering wheel you will find a 1 inch white OLED display which shows your usual information such as speed and your current gear. However it also allows you to open the menu, using the small button, to make changes on the fly in one of the 5 profiles.
On the back we immediately see the reinforced anodized orange aluminum shift mechanism. This one has been completely revised and features a longer throw with magnetic shifters. The result should provide better resistance and tactile feedback. Because the shifting system consists of one lever, it is possible to shift up and down with one hand. The analogue paddles (double-clutch) have also been revised, they now consist of a clearly visible honeycomb structure, meaning that they should be a lot firmer.
Where the previous version had a clamping system which you had to tighten with a bolt, it now features the simplified Quick Release adapter with which you can clamp the steering wheel to the wheelbase with a single turn. There is also an optional metal Quick Release for sale so the steering wheel is more suitable for use on the ClubSport wheelbase and for unlocking the high-torque mode on the Podium Wheelbases.
Using the wheel
Since the steering wheel carries the McLaren brand name, it is most inviting to play games such as Assetto Corsa Competizione, rFactor 2, Forza Motorsport 7 and Automobilista 2. In terms of ergonomics, the steering wheel would feel less suitable for F1 2020, but also in this game, or an open-wheel class in general, you can race it just fine. Since we race on PC, our preference with the McLaren GT3 V2 steering wheel is to drive the McLaren 650S GT3 in Assetto Corsa Competizione. We connected the steering wheel to the DD1 wheelbase and tested it extensively.
The steering wheel feels a bit light at first, but once you have mounted the optional metal Quick Release system, it feels better in terms of weight. Assembling this is a job of a few minutes where you have to be careful not to bend the pins. The optional Quick Release is not a must on a CSL wheelbase, but it is recommended on the ClubSport wheelbase. On Podium wheelbases it is desirable to use it to be able to use the high-torque mode.
We think it’s cool to get into a virtual car and have the right steering wheel to create an environment that is as real as possible. For us, this improves the experience and we really imagine ourselves in the McLaren 650S GT3 on the virtual track. The handles are well suited to use without gloves, but the tension quickly becomes too much for us in the heat of the battle and after a while we get clammy hands. This will be entirely up to us, and for that reason we always drive with gloves on. Driving with gloves gives a very comfortable feeling while steering and is no problem for us to find the right buttons.
On the steering wheel you will find enough buttons that you can assign to various functions in your favorite racing sim. if necessary, you can provide it with the correct label with the adjustable button caps, which we have done. The N and P buttons have a protective edge so that you cannot accidentally press it while racing. However, you have to exert quite a bit of force to press them and we think they feel a bit too heavy. The rotary encoders are good and easy to operate while racing. If you put the middle encoder in the A, B and C position, the functions of the other 2 encoders are fixed. If you put the middle one in the D position, you are free to determine the functions of the other 2 encoders yourself. Very useful for the TC (Traction Control) and BB (Brake Balance) for example.
The new magnetic shifters consist of a single unit in orange anodized aluminum. These feel good and provide direct feedback with a tactile feel. Just what we like to feel in a shifter. They are not on the level of the ClubSport Magnetic Paddle Module or Advanced Paddle Module, but they just function really well. Since it is one single part, you can basically shift up or down with 1 hand, very useful if you decide to drink something and shift at the same time. The analog paddles are reinforced and that causes exactly how strong they feel. They are used to act as a dual-clutch system. The dual-clutch system is your secret weapon at the start of the race! You let go of the first and the second slowly come up and away you are without wheelspin. Of course you are also free to give them their own function.
Due to its 300mm diameter, it is slightly larger than, for example, a Formula steering wheel. While driving we had to get used to its slightly larger size for a few laps. We do not often drive with these diameter steering wheels here, but by using the McLaren steering wheel we have discovered a new side of sim racing for ourselves. Where we are usually active in open-wheel classes, this has been expanded by participating almost daily in online GT3 competitions in Assetto Corsa Competizione. On the one hand, this naturally benefits Assetto Corsa Competizione, but also in combination with the comfort and experience provided by the McLaren GT3 steering wheel. The disadvantage of this experience is that “if you really go for immersion”, you just don’t want to drive a Porsche or Ferrari with a McLaren steering wheel. But hey, that’s just a luxury problem.