One of the many things that Gran Turismo 5 is particularly good at is displaying the many shortcomings of Sony's Sixaxis and DualShock 3 controllers. Logitech's official Driving Force GT wheel is a fantastic solution for gamers on a budget, but the small plastic pedals leave a lot to be desired for many lounge-room racers. The latest racing wheel with official Gran Turismo cred is the Thrustmaster T500 RS, and it looks to set the benchmark for some time.
“The goal that I set for the Thrustmaster team was to design for me the most precise wheel ever developed, without any latency – to accurately reproduce the sensations of GT5, and let users truly feel the emotions experienced by drivers on real racing circuits” said Kazunori Yamauchi, CEO of Gran Turismo developer Polyphony Digital and Senior Vice President of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc.
Apparently the first thing you'll notice is how heavy this thing is, due to the large quantities of metal used in the construction. The wheel unit weighs 4.6 kg (10.1 lbs) and the pedal set weighs 7.3 kg (16 lbs).
The pedals, which are constructed entirely from metal (apart from the electronics, of course), can be configured in a “floor-mounted” F1 style, or “suspended” GT style, and feature adjustable resistance on the brake pedal.
Force feedback comes courtesy of a 65 W industrial motor, capable of generating 150mNm of torque at 3000 RPM, but despite all that power, Thrustmaster promise that the T500 RS will behave itself due to a large dual-belt system.
Thrustmaster's patent-pending magnetic sensor-based H.E.A.R.T HallEffect AccuRate Technology, first seen in its HOTAS WARTHOG flight stick, makes an appearance in the T500 RS, which gives the wheel 65536 discrete positional values along its 1080 degrees of rotation. The inclusion of a motorized stop means you can choose the maximum amount of rotation on the wheel to suit the car you're driving and the circuit you're driving on.
The T500 RS will be available from January 5 in North America and Europe and from January 25 in Japan, at a suggested retail price of US$599.99 / £449.99 / €499.99. A gear stick add-on will be available in "coming months", so you'll have to make do with the sequential paddle shifter until then.