Fanatec has been known for introducing several innovations to the mainstream steering wheel market such as usage of high-quality materials and never before seen cross compatibility.
What happens if the most sought-after features of all their wheels are melt into one single product? Read the Porsche 911 GT2 wheel review to find out.
Back in early 2009, Fanatec announced the Porsche 911 GT3 RS wheel, offering the first-ever mass market steering wheel made with a genuine Alcantara rim. A few months later, the Turbo S was announced, being the first ever upper-market steering wheel compatible to both next-gen gaming consoles.
Marketed alongside Forza Motorsport 3, the 10.000 units of the Turbo S quickly sold out, leaving sim racers looking for a more professional Xbox 360 wheel out in the dry again.
This changes now as the 911 GT2 wheel combines the best of both worlds, pairing up the Alcantara goodness of the GT3 RS with unrivaled cross compatibility to the PC, the Playstation 3 and the Xbox 360.
Aside from these marquee features, the 911 GT2 has a lot to offer as well, coming with a large 30 centimeter rim, 900 degree steering & wireless connectivity.
The wheel’s Mabuchi RS 550 force feedback motor is belt-driven for smooth effects with minimized dead zone, two additional force feedback actuators provide vibration to simulate engine revving and ABS vibration in the wheel.
A special feature of all Fanatec wheels is the built-in display that can not just be used to display simulation telemetry data via a plugin, it also offers the ability to quickly change wheel settings while driving, regardless of whether or not the used title allows to tweak these settings in-game.
Changeable settings include wheel rotation, force feedback strength, deadzone, linearity and more, giving players the ability to fine-tune the wheel without having to fiddle with driver settings.
The Porsche 911 GT2 offers aluminum paddle shifters for gear changes that are put onto the wheel and turn with it, a sequential stick-shift and 6+1 shifter unit are sold separately.
Design & Build Quality
As the name suggests, the Porsche 911 GT2 wheel is modeled after the steering wheel of the actual GT2 road car, using the same stitched Alcantara that is used in the production of the road car.
While the wheel design is slightly different, the GT2 shares many aspects of all Fanatec wheels such as the proven 14 button layout that includes a D-pad and the design of the wheel base.
When unpacking the wheel, the first thing you´ll notice is the fantastic smell as only Fanatec’s wheels give you the sensation of getting into a new car. The Alcantara wheel looks, feels and smells absolutely fantastic, giving the whole unit an almost luxury-like feel.
The wheel feels extremely rugged and made for longer driver sessions thanks to exceptional materials used and it is by far the most beautiful of all wheels on the market thanks to the nicely stitched Alcantara and the shiny Porsche badge.
The wheel’s base comes with a silver finish and falls a bit off in terms of build quality as the used plastic feels a little cheaper than what is used on the actual wheel and the clearance between the top and the lower part looked a bit odd as well.
Nevertheless, the build quality of the whole unit has been nothing to complain about during the whole course of my review.
Installation & Configuration
The 911 GT2 is sold without a pedal set and while Fanatec offers both their standard pedal set and the fabulous Clubsport Pedals as additional purchases, the company has also thought of all Logitech owners as the GT2 comes with an adapter for the Logitech G25/G27 pedal set.
Like all Fanatec wheels, the 911 GT2 comes with the usual built-in clamp mechanism I have mentioned in several reviews before. The mechanism allows very quick installation as the lower part of the clamp is held in position by a screw in the wheel’s base, the wheel is then affixed by pulling down the two clamps that push the wheel’s base to the table.
Without wanting to sound like a broken record, I´m still not too fond of the whole thing as the clamp can’t be put on as tight as other solutions from Thrustmaster or Logitech. For cockpit or wheel stand installation, the 911 GT2 comes with four screw-holes that should be used if possible as the clamp does not offer a tight-enough fit for my taste.
Getting the 911 GT2 started with consoles is as easy as it gets as of course, no driver installation is required. The Xbox 360 mode works wireless while PC and Playstation 3 modes make use of a traditional USB cable.
The system-mode is set by pressing certain buttons on the wheel, once you enter the chosen mode the backlit wheel buttons will show the button layout of the chosen system. All of this is easily explained in the neat written quick start guide.
For PC usage, Fanatec provides both 32bit & 64bit drivers that need to be downloaded from the Fanatec website. Ever since the release of their first wheel, the company has been steadily putting out new driver & firmware versions, adding new features and getting rid of bugs.
As it is now, the drivers work like a charm on both 32bit & 64bit Windows Vista & 7 systems.
Driving & Force Feedback
The 911 GT2’s appearance promises a premium-grade product and, to no surprise, the wheel doesn’t disappoint. Like the GT3 RS and the Turbo S, the wheel provides smooth and silent force feedback that can be very strong if desired.
The wheel feels very smooth and responsive, driving is precise with no mechanical play or center deadzone. The wheel’s built-in tuning options allow for detailed changes that can match everyone’s preferences, whether you´re looking for ultra-strong FFB or a a loose wheel for drifting – The 911 GT2 can do it all.
The aluminum shifting paddles add to the positive impression, coming perfectly shaped and having a rugged feel about them. The build-in vibration motors add some more immersion to the driving, the vibration effects can be turned off for those who don’t fancy them.
Even though there are three motors at work, the 911 GT2 stays remarkably silent all the time with neither the motors nor the cooling fans reaching a noise level that would bother you while driving.
On the consoles, the feeling is a little less spectacular which is by no means the fault of the wheel as most console titles don’t deliver as good force feedback effects as most PC sims do.
The built-in display & tuning settings become even more important on the console as most titles don’t offer detailed steering wheel settings. While owners of other wheels are stuck with the standard settings, Fanatec owners can tweak the settings to their liking using the wheel’s display, adding some artificial deadzone does wonders in Gran Turismo 5 for example.
All in all, driving with the 911 GT2 is a pleasant experience on all platforms, the wheel especially exceeds on the PC where it can make most of its powerful force feedback motor.
When Fanatec announced to pair up the most exciting features of their top wheels in one single product, expectations were fairly high. The Porsche 911 GT2 delivers across the board, being easily the best wheel Fanatec has ever made.
The 911 GT2 is a pleasure for all senses and comes with great force feedback & precision and ever-improving software support that leaves nothing to be desired.
The wheel is unrivaled in terms of compatibility & console support, making it easily the best choice for all sim racers who own a console as the built-in tuning makes using it on the console more fun than any other product on the market.
The wheel is only edged out by Thrustmaster’s T500 RS which is just a tad more precise, strong and silent. But while Thrutmasters new wheel sells for 499€ without offering a load cell pedal set, Fanatec’s offering is a sweeter deal.
The Porsche 911 GT2 sells for 249€/$ without pedals, adding Fanatec’s fabulous Porsche Clubsport pedals to the mix still keeps the combination under 500€/$, making it the best value combination of all upper-market steering wheels.
The wheel can be bought exclusively on the Fanatec website, lots of demand requires a bit of patience though as customers who order now will receive their wheels by mid March (EU) and May (US/Canada).