Fanatec Forza Motorsport CSR Wheels – E3 Hands-On

Last week, Fanatec unveiled their brand new Forza Motorsport CSR & CSR Elite Wheels. As usual, the SRT guys were on site to give the prototypes a try and Darin Gangi is sharing his initial impressions of the wheels below.

By: Darin Gangi

As usual, Thomas Jackermeier the CEO of Fanatec had some big surprises in store for us this year at E3. I had actually heard about the CSR Elite wheel months ago as Thomas and I talk frequently. Not only had I heard about this wheel, I tried a prototype of it last year while he was here for E3 2010. He brought a version of it for us to evaluate and test for him. (I hope I don’t get in trouble for saying that)

The wheel is not going to come cheap. We tried to squeeze a price out of Thomas, but he wouldn’t give an exact figure. If I had to put a price tag on it, I would say at least $500 for the wheel by itself without pedals. There was a mention of $700 on the show floor, but that was not confirmed and may have included pedals and a shifter.

The build quality is amazing and so is how it looks esthetically. The main shaft mechanism is very similar to what you would find in a Frex wheel and it’s referred to as a worm drive. The biggest difference between this CSR Elite and the Frex wheel is the size.. Fanatec is doing it in half the size with the same amount or maybe more precision.

It’s branded in Forza motorsport colors and is Xbox 360, PC and PS3 compatible. It has a joystick and all the buttons you would find on an Xbox controller. The wheel is approximately 13’ in diameter with wheel that’s made of a hard plastic with rubber grips at the points that you would normally handle a wheel.

I really don’t have enough time with the wheel to give a proper evaluation of it.. I can say this.. It is one of the smoothest steering mechanisms in all of sim racing. The Force Feedback is very strong while being precise. The location of the paddle shifters were placed in close proximity to your hand for positive shifts and are similar in size to what you might find on a G27. One of my complaints with the current Fanatec line of wheels is the paddle shifter or button,. This is no longer the case. This wheel and the standard CSR have a much better paddle shifting system.

We will have more on this wheel and the rest of the line up in our E3 Fanatec special report that will be out by the end of this week. It will include an interview with some tech guy at Fanatec named “Mr T”. He was quiet a character. Jessica ran into him at the Codemasters booth while we were checking out F1 2011. Besides the interview, our crew captured some never before seen footage of something that will shock many sim racers. We also got to see the first images of the Clubsport Shifter that we will share with everyone as well.

I’ve included some images from our time with the CSR Elite at E3. Some are 1920 x 1080 and the others aren’t as large unfortunately because I captured them from footage we have of the wheel. We’ll have more on this wheel, the CSR, Clubsport Handbrake and Shifter as well as a special surprise that you’ll have to watch our Fanatec E3 special.

GTOmegaRacing.com

  • Ernie

    “Besides the interview, our crew captured some never before seen footage of something that will shock many sim racers…..”
    =-O What will it be? What is this “something”? Oh…….. Darin, please tell it. =-O

  • Nismo

    depending on price i am seriously digging that wheel. Only thing i’m not sold on is the hard plastic wheel itself, just not sure on that. But LOVE the look of the inside of the wheel.

  • Alex

    I’ll wait till the real Clubsport wheel is out from Fanatec without Forza branding, hopefully with a propper automative design (not digging the mechanical design and gimmicky see thru window) and a propper none plastic wheel in full alcantara ‘leather’.. assuming it would also have 360 support in some form additional cost or otherwise. It’s great to see the mechanical aspect of it sounds upto snuff; and certainly thats key, but really want to see some polish and design in the aesthetic and tactile feel of the materials used, not just slabs of metal bolted together and plastic rims :-S, More Sports Car than Track Car please

  • F1Racer

    Gregor Huttu driving Dirt 3 ?

  • gpfan

    +1 If true (same feeling than Frex wheel) i´m intrested!…… but…… hard plastic mount on the wheel it self???!!! for a 500 euro Wheel dont seem to be the right solution i think.

    Would like to know what if is possible to change by another wheel like i did on my G25 (put a Sparco) on it? 

    Like the case of the FFB and hope to see a modable wheel where you can change parts like i said above……

  • gpfan

    ….And great photo of Jessica!!!!  Better than ever!!  :)

  • Darin Gangi

    I can’t tell.. I’ll show you soon !  :D

  • Ed Luna aka eddiespag

    At this price range and quality level, it would be nice to have the option, like Frex does, to have other attatchable wheel options like authentic GT or open wheel steering wheels with button and dials (optional).  Maybe this initial release with the MS Forza branding is because of Thomas’ deal (funding) with Microsoft.  If MS helped to pay for the R&D, then I understand that Thomas’ hands maybe tied, but hopefully only for awhile. 

  • lilbro209

    Darin,

      Lately you have given me confidence with your slight criticisms of Fanatec’s QA stuff. This has made me feel you are more honest with your views and not so much saying nice things just because he is your friend. I have been holding back on buying Fanatec stuff untill they sorted this out and I stopped seeing the horrid stories being plastered all over the Sim Racing world about broken stuff on DOA equipment along with no response or late response from Fanatec. I hope this new line is something they spent more time on to make sure they had the quality down pat before shipping. I am sure you will let us kow your serious and honest opinion.

     Matt

  • Captain Underpants

    It’s a new version of the Buttkicker with high voltage electrodes into the seat that simulate the feeling of being on fire. Am I close?

  • Captain Underpants

    It’s a new version of the Buttkicker with high voltage electrodes into the seat that simulate the feeling of being on fire.

    rFactor 2 on consoles?

    Am I close?

  • Captain Underpants

    It’s a new version of the Buttkicker with high voltage electrodes into the seat that simulate the feeling of being on fire.

    Am I close?

  • lemming 77

    $500, huh… *opens wallet just to see a spider fall out* … :(

  • Ghoults

    I think it is necessary to simulate the fire effect realistically. Fire feedback. It’s like having your girlfriend hit you with hot iron kettle every time you crash. But with this new technology the impact is not felt on the face but on the arse.

  • Ghoults

    I’d call it the clubsport fire arse GT.

  • Silly(c)One

    More like ClubSport First Arse SM, no ? ;)
    (djeez, people have some weird fantasies nowadays  :-P )

  • Silly(c)One

    Damn, the Frex mechanism in a Fanatec wheel ? That’s the best news ever ! I am happy Frex waited so long to produce their latest wheel, as this is going to be muuuch cheaper and much more practical !

    Like the best of both worlds : high-end mechanics, broad connectivity… and the Fanatec LCD menu that I can’t live without anymore… woohooo :)
    Though as others said before, that plastic rim is ridiculous on such a quality wheel… as is the consoles compatibility as you’re very limited by the games themselves on PS3 and XBOX360 (at least the compatibility doesn’t do any harm). It would be nice indeed to either use Alcantara (which is not leather, btw, it’s a synthetic material) or the option to use a wheel of choice like Frex.
    Anyways, whatever the details, it’s the FFB that matters most, the rest is cosmetic, so I can’t wait to put my hands on that new Fanatec wheel !

  • joe pineapples

    LOL – I know what you mean.  Maybe I can feed my moth to your spider :) .

  • joe pineapples

    My guess would be safety car footage from F1 2011

  • kuato

    Agreed, the plastic rim is the weakest point.  And the way the it’s molded into the hub/paddle assembly, will not make things easy if you want to attach a real wheel.  Bummer..

  • SergeantBoner

    yep, the wheel slightly squeezing the ‘goods’…

  • Carbonfibre

    Are Logitech ever going to properly reply to this I wonder, where’s the G29?

  • aaltomar

    Hear, hear. I don’t mind the buttons but I do want a round rim with a simple alcantara finish. Also make sure that the thumb area is larger at the base where the ‘spokes meet the rim’ as in my current GT3 RS wheel the thumbs are a bit too tight against the base and the rim…

  • Marcelo Amaral

    you want a piece of grap that will break after 2 days? yes that’s how long it will last if you are lucky. fanatec wants an 700 bucks wheel? they are not worth 69 bucks!

  • Think Again

    I, too, am expecting that Fanatec will offer a clubsport wheel soon (a proper racing wheel for PC Sims? ) since Thomas stated in his blog that there will be three product lines:
    Clubsport wheels > CSR wheels > Porsche wheels

    I don´t want to see any plastic on this wheel !!!

  • Steve Farrell

    I want one , especially as its compatible with PS3 , Xbox 360 and PC. I wonder is it as good as the T500R (Or whatever that expensive wheel is named). It looks like it will be much better than my G25. I also dig the handbrake.

  • ctd

    I will be Jessica showing her tits. :-P

  • Richard Osborne

    Stop being such a tease and release that new episode! Already rockin a t500rs though. But still- looking forward to seeing what Fanatec is up to nonetheless

  • Ghoults

    I don’t think they are using any kind of worm drive (ball screw if you know frex). From the pictures it looks like an ordinary belt driven wheel and the “worm gear” is used to control the maximum rotation only. Mechanical stoppers. Although that is just very expensive way of doing so maybe I’m wrong.

  • Samuel Korthof

    Looks like a cheap xbox360 wheel. Will not buy this for that price. They keep the price high because fanatec is the only company who makes descent 360 wheels. Monopoly prices aren’t good for the consumer.

  • Ross Siggers

    Because everyone bases their purchases on relatively shallow things like how your PC wheel looks. If its anything as good to use as other Fanatec wheels then I’d be sold.

  • DevonK

    Judging only from the posted photos, it appears that wheel will mount extremely high on a desk, at least compared to my G25. If your monitor stand doesn’t push your screen up 2 feet, your view will be badly obscured.

  • Nismo

    The only thing that looks cheap on this wheel is the rim itself IMO, i still can’t get why they chose this plastic route, it just puts a dampner on the wheel for me TBH. If it’s around the same price as the Trustmaster then i would maybe consider that more even though i was put offf that by the rubbber but i would rather that finish than this hard plastic, i don’t understand what they were thinking with this. I have owned the Alcentera GT3 and it just seems like a downgrade going to plastic for some reason

  • Ed Luna aka eddiespag

    I am concerned about this as well. 

  • guinnness

    Well, saying that they will use the same kind of mecanism as Frex use in their wheels actually don’t mean that it will be as good.
    The HUGE difference is that the Frex is made in Japan with high quality standards and from high grade materials (mostly aluminium) where the Fanatec will probably be cheaply made in China with plastics everywhere like all their current products.

    Adding to that  the poor looking plastic wheel with console-pad looking/buttons, who will spend so much money for a wheel that looks so cheap ? (not me for sure)
    When you’re going to ask 500$+ for a wheel you must at least make some effort on the overall look.
    A generic racing wheel, like on Logitechs, build in metal/leather would be a far better choice (no console brands or car make brands)

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