Gaming Review: Fanatec CSL DD wheelbase

By topgear, 17 August 2021

Gaming Review: Fanatec CSL DD wheelbase

When it comes to direct drive simracing steering wheels, up until now there have been two incontrovertible truths. The first is that, with the rim essentially bolted directly to the motor, they are undoubtedly the best, most responsive and most realistic way to interact with a racing game. The second is that they all cost at least a grand, putting them out of reach of all but the most committed, or loaded, pretend racing drivers.

With the CSL DD, for PC and Xbox, Fanatec aims to do something about that second one, offering a genuine direct drive wheelbase for roughly the same price of its previous entry-level, belt-driven product, around £300 (RM1757). It's a prospect that appears too good to be true, to the point where the wags at Fanatec initially announced it as an April Fool's joke before revealing that it was very real and already in development. That's either supreme swagger or a complete misunderstanding that 1 April is supposed to be all about crushing disappointment...

Having now tested the CSL DD for ourselves, we're confident in saying the democratisation of direct drive makes this unassuming-looking cube the most significant piece of simracing hardware in well over a decade. The fidelity and detail offered by a DD wheel is incomparable and while by default the CSL DD's peak torque is a modest 5nm, which isn't going to win any sausage measuring contests, the immediacy of response and lack of slack and slip in the innards makes it feel immediately superior to comparatively priced kit, regardless of manufacturer.

A full setup with a wheelrim and the new CSL pedals will run you closer to £530 (RM3104), but if you can stretch to an additional £110 (RM644) after that, we'd also recommend the optional 'boost kit', a more punchy power supply that brings that torque figure up to a healthier 8nm. Even with the boost kit, it's not as eager to snap your thumbs clean off than the £1000 (RM5857) DD1 model, which peaks at 20nm, but it's still more than enough to help work off any lockdown bingo wings you might have picked up over the last 18 months.

If you're new to the Fanatec 'ecosystem' the combined package is still likely to make your wallet weep, but the fact remains that there's nothing else out there at the same price that can touch the CSL DD. If you aren't concerned with the extremes of torque offered by more expensive direct drive wheels, it might even be all the steering wheel you ever need. And you'll get to keep your thumbs intact. Result.