Thrustmaster Ferrari Wireless GT Cockpit 430 – Review
Back in November 2008, Thrustmaster introduced its Ferrari F430 Maranello wheel, offering a reasonably-priced steering wheel aimed at semi-serious racers.
Now, the company has taken the Ferrari F430 wheel design and combined it with a Ferrari-themed wheel-stand, creating the Thrustmaster Ferrari Wireless GT Cockpit 430 Scuderia Edition.
Can the Scuderia Cockpit pick up where the F430 wheel left off? Read the review to find out!
With more and more players of mass-marketing console driving titles like Forza Motorsport 3 or Gran Turismo using a wheel instead of a gamepad, the hardware market as been addressing the problem that such players are rarely confined sitting in front of a desk where a steering wheel could be attached.
There’s a wide variety of products available for living-room racers including racing rigs & seats as well as wheel stands from various manufacturers. Following Fanatec and its Rennsport Wheel Stand, Thrustmaster is the second major steering wheel manufacturer to offer a wheel stand solution.
Unlike Fanatec’s product that is design to accommodate various wheels, the Ferrari Wireless GT Cockpit isn’t just a wheelstand but has an integrated steering wheel and pedals that can not be switched.
The base data sound pretty promising as the Ferrari Wireless GT Cockpit combines the Thrustmaster F430 wheel and a two-pedal unit in a durable and heavy Ferrari-designed wheel stand.
The whole unit is fully wireless and works both on the PC and the Playstation 3, the wheel stand’s height and angle can be fully adjusted, suiting both grown up and younger racers of all sizes.
Heart of the product is the 28cm diameter Ferrari F430 wheel, an exact replica of the wheel that can be found in the Ferrari F430 road car.
The wheel offers 12 buttons on the wheel and the base, a D-Pad hiding behind the “start engine” button and the wheel’s most innovative feature – The Manettino.
The Manettino is a combination of rotary switch and button and can be used to tweak settings such as traction control, break bias and other stuff. The switch comes with two modes, automatic and manual. While the automatic mode works with a handful of supported titles, manual mode will allow you to map several features to the switch.
The wheel features two durable aluminum shifting levers for sequential gear change, a gear stick for manual transmission is not available. Being a wheel not aimed at professional sim racers, it only comes with 420 degrees of steering.
Compared to its older desktop-brother, the design of the wheel has only been marginally changed as two new buttons have been added on the rim and the wheel now features an on/off switch under the left shifting lever.
The biggest difference to the F430 Maranello wheel is the fact that the Ferrari Wireless GT Cockpit does not have Force Feedback, a significant feature loss as the FFB on the desktop version worked rather well, especially considering the price.
Design & Build Quality
When it comes to look and feel, the Thrustmaster Ferrari Wireless GT Cockpit is an almost flawless product. The wheel stand looks pretty sleek thanks to the Ferrari design & color scheme, the whole unit feels well built with mostly metallic parts where needed.
The whole unit weighs more than 10 kilograms, the heavy base insures a durable feeling while using it as nothing is wobbling or moving even if the on-track action gets a little wilder.
Even though Thrustmaster has not been using expensive materials like real leather that can be found on other upper-class wheels, the F430 wheel feels durable enough to sustain quite a beating. From the backlit Manettino-button to the nice and grippy rubber rim, build quality is nothing to complain about.
The gas & brake pedal are non-adjustable, the plastic base of each pedal is equipped with a metal plate. The most unusual aspect about the pedals is certainly the rather large space between the two pedals as the wheel post is designed to be sitting between the pedals when the unit is collapsed.
Installation & Configuration
The Ferrari Wireless GT Cockpit ships almost completely assembled, leaving the player with only a few tasks to complete before the driving starts.
After unpacking, only the steering wheel needs to be attached to the base as Thrustmaster has opted to make the wheel detachable for easier storage.
The wheel is put on using a metal clamp mechanism on the base of the cockpit as well as a small cable that is connected to the wheel under the left shifting lever. Since the wheel offers only 420 degrees of steering, the short cable doesn’t turn out be a distraction while driving at all.
Once the wheel is put on, the Cockpit needs to be equipped with four AA batteries, the unit’s sole power source. Unlike Fanatec’s wireless solution that only gets rid of the data cable, the missing Force Feedback has allowed Thrustmaster to make the Ferrari Wireless GT Cockpit the first truly wireless steering wheel solution so far.
The battery compartment behind the pedals also hides the USB stick transmitter that is either plugged in into a Playstation 3 or the PC. While the unit works without any further delay on the Playstation 3, PC users will have to install the steering wheel drivers as with any other wheel.
This is the point where using the Ferrari Wireless GT Cockpit becomes disappointing. While the nice build quality and the comfort of having a wireless piece of hardware are certainly the positive sides this product has to offer, using it is much less pleasurable because of the missing force feedback.
With the Ferrari F430 Modena wheel having decent Force Feedback and selling for under a 100 Euros, it’s hard to understand why Thrustmaster sacrificed this feature for the Wireless GT Cockpit that costs more than twice as much.
Part of it may be the fact that the Cockpit was designed to be completely wireless, it still feels like way too high of a price to give up on ffb just to get rid of the power cord.
Aside from the missing force feedback, the wheel does pretty well, my only other big complaint being that it is a tad too noisy for not having any ffb. There’s a constant plastic grinding noise when turning the wheel all the way to the left or the right, making the wheel nosier than some wheels with ffb on.
There are positive sides though, the metallic shifting levers feel durable and have pretty much the best design I´ve come across on any wheel as size and positioning is just right. The pedals are also neat and stiff enough despite not being adjustable.
Finally, the base of the Wireless GT Cockpit probably has the best rubber stops I´ve ever come across as the base won’t move an inch on any type of floor.
At the end of the day, the Ferrari Wireless GT Cockpit feels like a wasted opportunity for Thrustmaster. There’s obviously a market for wheelstands and well-designed wheels like that, the good build quality and overall appearance can’t make up for the lack of features though.
With only 420 degrees of steering, no clutch pedal and, most importantly, no force feedback it’s impossible to recommend the Ferrari Wireless GT Cockpit to any half-serious racing gamer.
Force feedback is simply too important to the overall driving experience to trade it in for a feature like wireless connection. Even though the product seems to be heavily targeted at living-room racers using titles like GT5, even most of the console crowd will be let down by the missing feedback effects as ffb has become much more than a gadget even in console racers.
Hopefully, Thrustmaster will learn from this and equip possible future Cockpit models with Force Feedback, the wheelstand itself works flawlessly and is just spoiled by the hardware attached to it.
The Thrustmaster Ferrari Wireless GT Cockpit 430 Scuderia Edition sells for 249.99 Euros/Dollars, sim racers who like the Ferrari wheel design and are looking for a reasonably-priced starter wheel should check out the Thrustmaster Ferrari F430 Modena wheel instead. It offers the exact same wheel design & pedals with added Force Feedback for under 100 Euros.