It’s a common problem: You enjoy sim racing, but the steering wheel you use to compete virtually simply isn’t as sharp or well-built as the one inside your 2022 BMW M4 GT3 race car. We’ve all been there and, thankfully, Fanatec is finally doing something to address this growing problem.
Over the weekend, Fanatec and BMW Motorsport announced the Podium Steering Wheel — a literal BMW M4 GT3 steering wheel that is CAN bus compliant and incorporates a quick-release mechanism, so it can be used inside the actual race car as well as with Fanatec’s sim racing wheel bases.
The Podium Steering Wheel is built on the very same production line as the wheels that ordinarily go in BMW’s GT3 machines, but it’s also compatible with Windows and PlayStation. One steering wheel for all your real-life and esports racing: It’s a win-win!
Lots of carbon fibre evidently went into the construction of the Podium Steering Wheel, just as you’d expect for a component inside a GT3 machine. It “meets rigorous environmental condition specifications for shock and vibration,” according to Fanatec, comes IP65-rated water- and dust-resistant and features magnetic shifter paddles. And, because this is still a sim racing gadget at heart, there are lots of RGB backlit buttons and dials for you to fiddle with, that apparently feel very satisfying to toggle and turn. There’s even a D-pad cleverly hidden under the BMW emblem.
By now you’ve likely noticed that we haven’t mentioned a price for the Podium Steering Wheel. That’s because Fanatec hasn’t announced one, though the product is planned to ship in the second quarter of next year. It’s been said that the steering wheel inside a Formula One car costs $US50,000 ($67,450); apparently, the wheel in Mazda’s DPi prototype will set you back $US30,000 ($40,470). Knowing this, I’d guestimate a price well into four- or maybe five-digit territory is not out of the question here.
I must admit that I rolled my eyes when I first found out about the Podium Steering Wheel. I’m not sure those who actually drive M4 GT3s really think all the much about the wheel on their simulator used for training, but then, what do I know? This seems more like a clever marketing stunt from Fanatec than anything else, so the company can claim it produces pro-calibre equipment. Still, I can’t deny it’s neat and of course I want one, are you kidding me?