Fanatec Porsche 911 Turbo S (CE) Review

Author: Gabriel Vega
Editor: Howard Ha
Publish Date: Friday, November 6th, 2009
Originally Published on Neoseeker (http://www.neoseeker.com)
Article Link: http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Hardware/Reviews/911_turbo_s/
Copyright Neo Era Media, Inc. - please do not redistribute or use for commercial purposes.

Accessories on the Xbox are a limited group; they face a requirement of having a specialized chip to authorize them to play, killing advances in technology for the console and limiting players to a censored view of what the market is, something we’ve seen this with the X-Arcade and products like the Logitech G25/ G27. Gamers today get a glimpse of light in all of this chaos: Fanatec comes to the Xbox platform once again with the Porsche 911 Turbo S Clubsport Edition for the 360. Packing a huge set of accessories with it, the Fanatec might be one of the most complete wheels on the market.

The 911 Turbo S Clubsport Edition comes with the following:

It’s a simple package full of boxes with new parts all over; after we finished unboxing everything and celebrating like it was our birthday it came to building the 911 Turbo S. Construction of the wheel is simple; it uses predrilled holes to push and set the gear support rods in on the left or right side depending on preferences of the gamer. One item we have to stress is that a good connection is everything with this wheel; we placed the rods in the wheel and the gearshift on the other end and used heavy force to get them stable. The penalty for not doing this is the shifter acts flimsy and likes to wiggle in use (this is prominent in the 6+1 shifter with such tight channels) which makes securing the wheel essential.

For those with a custom mounting setup, the Fanatec comes with preset holes for drilling and a template to help make drilling easy. If one has the means to do this we recommend it as the rewards are noticeable, bringing stable control while fighting cars in each race. We used a classic mounting setup that worked with the Driving Force Pro and the original Fanatec Speedster, a low cost TV tray the wheel and shifter mounted on with the pedals right below. We can say this isn’t the ideal mounting situation; the 911 Turbo S is a strong wheel and it bent our table in many directions. Using our legs for stability and some tape on the bottom of the pedals to hold it to the hardwood floor, we were almost ready.

The Fanatec has a few stages of work before it launches right into play; we used the Xbox 360 as our first subject and ran through the configuration stages to sync the wheel to our console. Connection takes a few minutes and only uses the dedicated Xbox button on the side. With PC and PS3 users the Fanatec uses a few extra steps with the connect and back buttons before it is ready for use which keeps the installation streamlined. PC users should keep in mind they need to install the Windows driver before jumping into their games.

Our first game was Forza 3 on the Xbox 360, designed as a simulation game able to take gamers to the limit with full clutch and gearbox support. Forza 3 features various super cars of the past decade and many standard consumer models as well, each able to put the 6+1 to the test. For testing purposes we tossed reason out of the window and ran with the Bugatti Veyron, a Porsche 914 with engine swap and 4WD as well as the Opel #5 OPC Team Phoenix Astra V8. Our courses spanned Laguna Seca, Amalfi Coast, Tsukuba Circuit and Sedona for the Drag Strip testing.

The tracks awaited our arrival, the AI begging us to jump in. The Opel was the flagship benchmark for us as it is a Touring model and has incredible grip and traction on any track. Taking to the track we pushed it onto the course at Laguna Seca for the benchmark known as the Corkscrew pass. From the start the Fanatec and Forza let us know the clutch handling is everything; our first bad start the car shook and the wheels spun wild on the pavement. Shift timing and clutch handling are everything on this wheel; the margin of error is so small slips or bad timings make themselves known as the tachometer bounces between gears. The wheel itself was responsive to our driving, letting us feel out the ground as we rode the rumble strip like a rail through fast corners helping us keep grip. As we came up on the monster we used engine braking to slow down, dumping the Opel into the corner with a hard turn in trying to keep to the center of the apex. The Fanatec kept us on target and we pulled through the Corkscrew with flying colors as we powered out of the bottom of the turn with the AI right on our tail.

We kept this pace up, tackling Amalfi Coast in the overpowered Veyron, testing how well we could handle the beast on the tight track. The Veyron was even less forgiving on our rough starts; trying to handle the 1001HP beast as we lay the throttle on, each launch as we repeated was just as unforgiving. The 911 Turbo S is a great wheel but it doesn’t make miracles; it took awhile before we could time the shifts and make the most of the power in the Veyron. For the short openings we could find on the track, we felt the car understeering as we carried too much speed into the corners leaving the car to plow under heavy braking. The Fanatec helped keep us in the loop, letting us feel the wheel resist our turn and our corrections with the pedals translating straight to the wheel as the car fought back. We thought it would be fun to take the Veyron to Sedona but we found it destroyed the competition on the track even with missed shifts.

The 914 was our car built on pure insanity; using lightweight and impressive power and a 4WD drivetrain, we found it to be a horrible car to abuse on tight tracks. The Fanatec helped guide us through Tsukuba at record pace, allowing us to set the back end free as we swung the car into low speed corners, feeling the traction break and feathering the pedals to get us back on course in the heat of the race. When we hit the 914, the timing for our shifting improved. We hit the power right on the spot when doing so and felt the sturdy build of the wheel; the shifter didn’t budge. For all the torture we put it through, the Fanatec held in and kept helping us improve our lap times and find new lines in each run.

Our time was short with the 911 Turbo S so we put it through the paces on more popular titles using the sequential shifter and the paddles on the wheel. Our first game up was DiRT 2, the latest racing game from Codemasters on the Xbox 360 featuring various off-road races. The Fanatec synced up to the game with no issue; we set off into the mountains of Croatia and had at it in the 2006 WRX STI Group N car. The handling through the Fanatec was jittering over the rough terrain; we adapted to the handling and pushed on, finding we could hang the tail of the car out even more in tough corners. We found ourselves able to push the STI to the limit with the live feedback in the wheel telling us how well the car was gripping the gravel or tarmac. Overall the 911 Turbo S delivered a memorable run through two stages of the country and had us feeling stronger about our abilities in the game.

We cut across the field and jumped into GRID on the PC, a favourite for street racing on the platform. The Fanatec had no problem with recognition. As we had already devoted a huge portion of time with the 6+1 to Forza, we changed focus to the paddle shifting on the wheel. GRID was a treat to play with it; we could feel the difference between the 911 Turbo S and the Driving Force Pro, our prior racing favourite. As we hit each corner the Fanatec shined more and more with subtle jumps and pulls; the motor brought our response to new levels; paddle shifting worked like a dream as we threw the car hard into the corner, clipping the rumble strip, running on three wheels.

Leaving nothing behind we headed back to the Xbox 360 with Project Gotham 4. Here the fast paced racing and quick drift action had us tangling with the wheel and focusing on the paddle shifting even more. We took to the streets of New York which act as one of the tougher tracks to pull off in the game; to take on the handling challenge we raced the Mitsubishi FQ400, pushing it hard and letting it slide through tight S turns and hard hairpins. With the car screaming and the paddles hard at work keeping the power on, we pushed forward to set a fast lap. The Fanatec aided us in hanging on for dear life in the race, feeling the car out as we took it to the next level. 

Our power testing ended there; with more time we would have loved to run the wheel in Need for Speed: SHIFT and next year in Gran Turismo 5. We have to thank the folks at Fanatec for giving us a run with their latest dose of madness -- the 911 Turbo S defines what a solid racing wheel should be with sleek looks and even the choice of interchanging parts with Logitech wheels. The price may be steep for some racers with a tag of $499 for the Clubsport Edition on the Fanatec Shop, but the wheel delivers on every cent invested with great craftsmanship in the construction and rigid handling. Add onto this the ability to play on the Playstation 3, PC and Xbox 360 and it starts to show why it’s such a value, particularly with extremely limited inventory on the 360 platform.

»Neoseeker.com

Copyright Neo Era Media, Inc., 1999-2014.
All Rights Reserved.

Please do not redistribute or use this article in whole, or in part, for commercial purposes.