Racing fans often face a dilemma when selecting a racing sim setup. With a vast array of racing categories covered in sim racing titles, which should you choose to model your racing sim on ? Next Level Racing’s latest creation, the F-GT sim aims to address exactly this challenge by being a transformer, converting into either a GT racing setup (similar seating position to your road car), or more of a Formula setup.
Naturally a racing sim needs to service the essentials, like somewhere to sit, somewhere to mount your wheel, pedals and shifter, but having the ability to physically reflect the racing mode you’re currently racing is an exciting prospect, as sim racing is all about tricking your brain into thinking you’re really there, driving the real thing.
Looks great, feels great, super strong
The Next Level Racing F-GT racing sim cockpit is made from a matt-black finish and from the moment you open the box and take a look at the size of the support bars, you know this is made with strength in mind. Not only does the matt black finish look stealthy and tough, the detail of the welds in corners is also pretty special craftsmanship.
The design of the F-GT is to support both GT racing, like GT3 cars, or Formula-style, like F1s or other open wheeler categories. When you assemble the racing sim, you’ll need to make that decision as to which one you’re building for. As I already own a GT Ultimate V2 sim, I went first for the F1-style, but close to the ground, feet elevated option.
After racing through some F1 2018, it was time to transform the sim into GT mode to compare and contrast against my other sim. The change over took about 15-20 minutes the first time because I was unfamiliar with the process, but it’s safely under 10 minutes for someone with experience. The biggest thing that caught me out was the need to re-adjust not just the seating position, but that had impact on the placement of almost everything else, the pedal placement and the wheel placement both needing to be changed to make the new configuration usable.
In both configurations, racing felt incredibly real, like you were behind the wheel of both types of vehicles. What I know about my racing behaviour is that with a new game, I’ll pour 20-30hrs into it before really ever venturing back to the growing list of racing titles I have available to me. Personally this makes the change cost (time) of transitioning between the two states a non issue. That said, I can imagine a scenario where some racers switch more frequently that myself, so if there was a way to construct this with a no-bolt switch, that’d definitely be welcomed. It’d be a difficult challenge, given the strength requirements of the sim framework needs to be robust given the forces applied by the sim driver or drivers.
Being a taller guy, I found there was plenty of adjustability, from the seat to get comfortable, the wheel and shifter to get the right reach and turn, as well as the pedal positions. The setup really just takes a little trial and error, but once you have it dialled in, it fits like a glove and helps trick your brain into thinking your in the seat of a million dollar supercar, not your home office or living room.
You want options?
The F-GT’s biggest feature is it’s ability to change formats relatively quickly. Not only is the transform-ability present in the form of its layout, but its also the adaptability in supporting a wide array of wheel and pedals that makes this product great for a wide array of sim lovers.
All major wheel and pedals are supported here, thanks to pre-drilled holes for Thrustmaster, Logitech, Fanatec & Simxperience Accuforce wheels. Personally I bolted on the Logitech G920 to the F-GT and it worked a treat. The ability to perfectly angle the wheel and pedals to your liking is a real attribute. Far too many sims don’t provide this level of flexibility and the last thing you need in the middle of a long race is to be uncomfortable. Thanks to the robust design of the metal structure, it’s got the strength to withstand some serious forces with direct drive wheels.
The sim includes a seat slider, making it great for anyone trying to support multiple sized drivers. I have the 6-speed manual shifter accessory for the G920 and the gear shifter support made it quick and simple to bolt on. Another feature of the F-GT is a familiar lumbar support cushion, also found on the GT Ultimate V2.
The F-GT can support a max weight of 130 kg. The dimensions of the sim are an efficient 170 x 60 x 100 cm in F mode, while the GT takes up 140 x 60 x 125 cm. Given anyone who buys this will likely experience both setups, its worth allowing for both configurations.
In terms of the weight, the product weighs 45 kg, so you should plan on getting some help when moving it.
There’s a couple of options you should consider when buying this racing sim.
- F-GT Monitor Stand (Can hold 1-3 screens) – Supports Upto 1 x 65” screen or 3 x 27” screens
- Lockable Castor Wheels – Used to move your simulator with ease
If you’ve already made an investment in a wheel and pedals, you’ll want to know that the following are compatible with this product. If you haven’t, then perhaps the list below will server as a great starting point for your decision.
- Thrustmaster Wheels: Tx 458, T500 RS, T300RS, T300 Ferrari Edition, 458 Italia, Spider Xbone, T80,T300GT
- Fanatec Wheels: All Fanatec wheels on the market
- Logitech Wheels: G25, G27, G29, G920 wheels on the market (Pre-drilled for wheel, pedals and shifter and we even include screws to hardmount straight on)
- Built to support professional direct drive wheels and pedals.
NLR previously had a product known as the F1GT, the new F-GT differs in some very important ways.
- New electroplated Matte Black finish on the frame. All bolts, nuts and washers changed to Black for a stealth look
- New sliding holes for faster adjustment of wheel, pedal and shifter positions
- 3 more levels of angle adjustment added for the wheel, pedals and seat
- 8 height adjustable feet that screw into the frame of the cockpit
- Adaptor included for Buttkicker Gamer 2
- Product name change to F-GT to reflect formula seating position
- Compatibility with Next Level Racing® Lockable Wheel Castors (available separately)
PRICE & AVAILABILITY
How much and when can you get one ?
Next Level Racing’s F-GT racing sim is available now. The Australian distributor is Pagnian Imports and they currently have the matte black sim, with floor mat, for A$699.00.
With Microsoft’s Store recently adding a hardware section, you’ll also find it’s available for A$699.00 with free standard delivery. What’s really neat is Microsoft have extended their student, parent and teacher pricing to this item, making it as low as A$629.96 for eligible customers.
The NLR F-GT is also available from JB Hi-Fi for, you guessed it – A$649.00. Just remember, if picking it up in-store is more convenient, make sure it’ll fit in your car. The boxed dimensions are: 96 x 50 x 40 cm
If you live playing racing games and have been eyeing a racing sim for a while, this would be a fantastic place to start. The transforming nature of the F-GT, along with its support for an array of popular wheel and pedal sets, means you’ll be able to feel like you’re really driving almost any car you select in-game.
Next Level Racing have done a great job at simplifying the design so entry and exit from the sim is far easier than other alternatives, and the comfort of the seat itself is great for quick little bursts, or for extended sessions.
In terms of putting a racing sim in your home (or business), you want it to look the part and this most certainly does. The matte black finish looks stealthy, strong and great in almost any environment. The sim comes with some extra stickers to bolster the look and add some red, white and yellow to the structure, proudly showing off the Next Level Racing branding to any of your friends who will certainly be jealous and want to know where to get one.
In terms of space, this is quite efficient as far as sims go. It’s long and skinny and can be easily parked in front of a TV on a lowline unit. more serious setups can include triple monitor stand if you’re really going next level.
If you’ve spent $500+ on a wheel and pedal set, then you definitely want to spend $700 more for a chassis that’ll turn those accessories into a racing simulator and make you feel like you’re not driving virtually, but actually driving the real thing.