Simplace is an online store that aims to offer the largest and widest range of sim racing and flight simulator equipment worldwide. In addition to the products sold in the web store, they have recently launched their own steering wheel. We had the honor of being the first to test and review the GT3 steering wheel.
The steering wheel is available on the Simplace web store and has a price tag of € 539.00. In their own words, the limited edition Simplace GT3 steering wheel is one of the best GT3 steering wheels on the market! If you drive a lot of GT cars in iRacing or Assetto Corsa (Competizione) for example, then this steering wheel should suit you perfectly. Is that really the case? We’re going to find out in this review.
Packaging and Content
We received the steering wheel in a cardboard box, because the official box was still at the print shop and was not ready in time when the steering wheel came our way. It doesn’t matter, this has happened to us before and after all it’s about the content. Simplace has indicated that it will ship that box to us as soon as it is available. Of course we will show you it when we receive it.
The contents of the box are well protected and look fine overall. In addition to the steering wheel, there is also a bag of screws to mount the steering wheel on the Quick-Release of your wheelbase.
The steering wheel
The GT3 steering wheel, with a compatible quick-release or adapter, is suitable for all wheelbases available from Simucube, Fanatec, Thrustmaster, Logitech etc. The steering wheel has a diameter of 300mm and consist of two parts. The base consists of a 5mm aluminum front plate with an aluminum housing. The sharp edges of the aluminum are neatly rounded and smoothed out. Weighing in at 1120 grams, the steering wheel feels very firm and solid.
The high-quality shift modules are located at the rear of the steering wheel. The shift modules and paddles are CNC machined from aluminum and then black anodized. Here, too, all sharp edges are neatly smoothed out. Inside the switch modules we find a cruzer microswitch which is also used in real race cars. So you could say reliability at its best! We do miss the possibility to adjust the shift modules and/or paddles. There are no other options than moving the paddles to the other side of the holder so that they come 3 mm closer.
On the front of the steering wheel we find 9 high precision and quality APEM buttons, 3 rotary CTS 288 encoders with push button functionality and 1 multifunctional 4-way joystick with rotary encoder.
Both the front plate and the buttons are provided with stickers/labels. We believe that the quality of these leaves something to be desired. With a premium price for the steering wheel, we think a little more attention should be paid to the vinyl to really give it the premium look it deserves.
The handles are made of a hard plastic and are covered with a thick Alcantara-like fabric and finished with blue stitching. The whole looks very nice and feels a bit sturdy but still very comfortable. Both with and without wearing gloves you have a perfect grip on the steering wheel.
In terms of technology, the steering wheel is equipped with a Leo Bodnar BU0836A controller with modified firmware “Innato SW” which is responsible for communication with the computer via the fixed stretchable USB cable. The USB cable feels a bit thin and fragile and we don’t think a fixed USB cable is appropriate on a steering wheel of this price range, we would have preferred a separate USB cable with a DIN connection.
Assembly and Use
When mounting on our Fanatec Podium Hub we encountered a very small problem. The supplied screws are just 5mm too long, so we couldn’t mount our Podium Hub. Standard M5x40 bolts with a countersunk head are included, so you need M5x35 with countersunk head for mounting on the Podium Hub. Unfortunately we didn’t have these bolts at home, we had to order them and because of that we were able to use the steering wheel a little later than planned.
Finally, with the right mounting materials, the Podium Hub was mounted in a few seconds and we could get started. Because the distance from the wheelbase to the PC is often too long for the average supplied USB cable, we by default have a USB extension cable from our PC to the wheelbase, so that we can use steering wheels other than Fanatec on our Podium DD wheelbase quite easily. In this case we also used it. You wrap the USB cable from the steering wheel around the QR of the Podium Hub, as it were, then plug it into the extension cable and start racing!
We like to drive Assetto Corsa (Competizione) in GT3 cars and the use of this steering wheel fits well with that. In our virtual Audi we were able to put the steering wheel to the test. We have regularly done sessions of more than 2 hours and the GT3 steering wheel really came into its own.
The APEM push buttons always work well and really add to this steering wheel. The rotary encoders also work great and are easy to operate during racing. The handles feel sturdy and although they are harder than we are used to, they still felt very comfortable, even after the longer sessions. We should note that most of our time we raced with gloves on, but we also felt comfortable in the sessions without gloves.
The switch modules are very solidly built and of good quality. They provide good feedback and feel and you clearly hear a clear clicking sound while shifting. The travel and range of the paddles is fine for us, but we do miss the possibility to adjust them a little more to your liking. You can move the paddle to the other side of the unit so that they come 3mm closer, but that’s really where the possibilities end.
Despite the fact that the steering wheel, in our experience, has some minor shortcomings, we enjoy driving around in our virtual GT3 cars. The beauty of this steering wheel is that there is no car brand on it and it does not matter in which GT3 car you virtually take a seat. The experience is always right and that is why we think this is an excellent universal steering wheel.
The Simplace GT3 steering wheel is a great steering wheel that you can use in all directions in iRacing, Assetto Corsa (Competizione) and many other racing sims. The price tag of € 539.00 is considerable and for that money we think that the steering wheel deserves a little more attention in terms of finishing the stickers. We would also have liked to have seen a separate USB cable with a DIN connection. The steering wheel feels sturdy and comfortable due to its aluminum front plate and housing. In terms of electronics, high-end push buttons, rotary encoders and a Leo Bodnar controller have been chosen. The handles feel a bit firm but good and riding either with or without gloves provides excellent comfort. The switch modules have excellent travel, give good feedback and are of excellent quality. However, we would like it if there were some more options to adjust them to your liking.