Fanatec Formula Rim for CSR Elite
In the world of racing wheels, German manufacturer, Fanatec, has been setting the standards for several years, especially when it comes to multiplatform racing hardware. Last year, we reviewed the company’s astounding ClubSport Wheel, an extreme controller for the most fanatical of racing game fans. Fanatec also makes another version of this Formula One inspired accessory, which will leave a smaller dent in your wallet, while still providing the immersion and thrills that sim-racers yearn for.
The Formula Rim for the CSR Elite Wheel, is an optional accessory which replaces the original wheel rim on Fanatec’s Forza Motorsport CSR Elite Wheel. The stock CSR Elite is Fanatec’s mid-range product. It provides smoother and more immediate force feedback than the cheaper CSR wheel (which we have also reviewed), but has less powerful motors than the more expensive ClubSport Wheel.
The CSR Elite Formula Rim costs £179.95 in addition to the cost of the original CSR Elite Wheel, which goes for between around £400 but is no longer available directly from Fanatec. It’s a serious investment, but if you already own the CSR Elite Wheel then this is the cheapest way to get a Formula One experience, rather than the £679.99 it would cost to buy the ClubSport version including the required ClubSport Wheel Base.
Your £179.95 gets you one of the coolest looking racing wheels on the market. The shape of the rim and the button layout is the perfect way to immerse yourself in Formula One, on almost any platform. The CSR Elite is supported on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC, so it’s ideal for playing the Codemasters F1 games, or more simulation F1 racing in iRacing and Rfactor. However, it’s not clear at the moment whether Fanatec’s products will be supported on the new consoles. It looks pretty certain that they will never work on Xbox One, but in theory they might be supported on PS4. However, PS4 racing game developers will be required to write code specifically for each wheel, meaning that support will vary dramatically depending on the game.
If you’re used to using a round wheel, the Formula One shape can take some getting used to. In my first few F1 races using the Formula Rim I had some cramp in my left hand, but after a week or so of racing I got used to the new sensations. It’s perfectly suited to F1 racing, with the buttons placed nicely for activating KERS & DRS and tweaking brake balance and other settings from the cockpit, without taking your hands off the wheel. You stay in control all of the time. The Formula Rim also drops the Xbox 360 button labelling that appears on the stock CSR Elite Wheel, which makes it feel less like a toy and more like a real racing car accessory.
The only disappointments come when you compare this CSR Elite Formula Rim with the Clubsport version. The Clubsport version is £50 more expensive, but for that you get some neat features that are missing from the CSR Elite option. The ClubSport Formula Rim has working LED rev lights, alcantara grips instead of artificial leather and more coloured buttons.
The ClubSport Wheel also has a “quick release” system for swapping wheel rims, whereas changing between the original CSR Elite Wheel and the Formula Rim requires a couple of tools. This means that regularly swapping the Formula Rim for the original wheel is not really an option with the CSR Elite. It doesn’t simply pull on and off and requires you to manually disconnect some internal cables and access some screws to swap rims. So, if you’re thinking of picking this up you really need to be a dedicated Formula One or Le Mans Prototype fan, because swapping back to the original, street-car like rim isn’t really advised. In fact, Fanatec themselves warn that doing this too often will damage the thread of the screw holes and make it impossible to secure either wheel securely to the base.
If you don’t already own the original CSR Elite Wheel, then your only choice now to get hold of a Fanatec Formula Rim is to go for the more expensive ClubSport package, because Fanatec no-longer stocks the base CSR Elite Wheel. If you want to know more about the ClubSport experience, you can check out our review.
If you do already have the original CSR Elite Wheel and you’re after a more authentic racing car experience then this is the perfect way to achieve the ultimate immersion in Formula One. If you use your CSR Elite wheel mainly on PC, this is a great addition for your setup, but if you’re a console racing fan, you might want to hold off on your purchase. This wheel definitely won’t work on Xbox One and with no serious racing games out yet for PS4, we can’t be sure how it will feel on that platform or even whether PS4 developers will choose to support it.
The CSR Elite Formula Rim isn’t the ultimate racing wheel, that’s the ClubSport, but it is a more affordable and still thoroughly enjoyable way to have a fantastic F1 experience at home.