If you’re a fan of racing games, you need to get a racing wheel. I implore you, even if it’s one of the cheap as chips offerings, a racing wheel provides a level of immersion that no controller with buttons can replicate.
That being said, if you’re serious about racing games, you should really consider a higher-end racing wheel, one where features and quality justifies the high initial cost.
The Logitech G27 is an expensive, high-end racing set – complete with wheel, paddle shift, stick shift and pedals, and retails locally for around the R2,999 mark. Can it justify the price tag which would give a full console a run for its money?
The short answer is yes, go buy it, now. For the long answer, read on.
The G27 is the high-end racing wheel from Logitech, which means it’s a feature-rich offering with nearly every bit of kit you could want.
Gear-shift paddles come standard on the G27 and are located just behind the steering wheel. They’re connected with the steering wheel in the same way real paddle-shifts are, so they move along as you turn the wheel to the left or right, allowing you to easily gear up or down while cornering. The distance between the wheel where your palm rests and the back of the paddles is comfortable, though those with shorter fingers may find shifting a bit uncomfortable in the beginning.
The other option of shifting comes in the form of a stick-shifter. This is a separate unit to the main body of the G27, and houses the shift-stick as well as various controls (more on those, later). The stick-shifter is a six-speed configuration and moves through the gears with relative ease. The gear knob is a bit small compared to those found in real cars, but it becomes comfortable enough after some use.
There is also a reverse gear on the stick-shifter which you can access by pressing the knob down and moving it to the correct position on the unit.
Getting back to the controls I mentioned earlier – on the stick-shifter unit there is an array of buttons to control menu systems. A four-way D-pad is present, along with the 4 buttons you would find on a console controller. They aren’t marked with symbols, but anyone who is familiar with a console will feel right at home. Below the D-pad is a row of four red buttons for other functions – such as start and select, or escape and enter on a keyboard.
The G27 also comes bundled with a set of three pedals – clutch, brake and accelerator respectively. They are housed in a plastic casing, though the plastic is of high quality and feels sturdy enough. My only gripe with the pedals is the spacing, they could’ve been spread out slightly wider, but once you get used to them you shouldn’t have any issues.
The amount of force required to press the pedals in, varies – with the brake being the hardest to push in and the clutch being the easiest. All of the pedals feel responsive and do well to emulate real driving conditions. The pedal unit features “no-slip” grips for flat floors, and a fold-out bar with spikes on it to grip on carpets. Using the pedals on tiles proved to be annoying as they would slip every now and then, but on carpet the unit stayed in place no matter how much force was applied.
Attaching the steering wheel and stick-shifter housing to a desk is extremely easy. The former connects to a desk via two front-mounted right-angle clamps that the user can tighten by turning plastic protrusions on top of the unit. Once adequately tightened, the protrusions can be depressed and clipped out of the way.
The same system is in place on the stick-shifter, along with a third plastic screw towards the rear of the unit. This is needed as gear shifts during a heated race can become rather violent, and the third screw makes sure the stick shifter unit remains in place.
Other features include a power-on test where the steering wheel completes rotations left and right before centring itself; a row of indicator LED’s that moved from green to yellow to red depending on how high your revs are; and six steering wheel mounted assignable buttons.
Build quality on the G27 is excellent. Particular attention was paid to the steering wheel and paddle shifters. The wheel itself is covered in a leather-like material which is easy to grip and feels comfortable to hold for extended periods of time. Inside, it’s made out of thick aluminium, which feels solid even when you’re gripping it tightly and thrashing the wheel left and right.
The paddles are also made of thick aluminium, and show no signs of flexing even under force. What I would have preferred is a slightly rougher surface on the rear of the pedals for increased grip while shifting, though the smooth feel of the aluminium isn’t bad at all.
The plastic housing of the steering wheel unit (as well as the stick shifter unit and the pedals) is high quality and suites the overall package quite nicely. It should stand up to many years of racing abuse, though it will crack if the unit falls off the side of a table.
The stick-shifter is built to last, while each gear slides in with ease. It also comes with a leather covering similar to what you would find in a high end German saloon, a nice touch. As for the buttons, they’re good quality, responsive, easy to press, about as good as buttons can be on a racing wheel.
The pedals are made from thick aluminium and work surprisingly well, even when the driver is barefoot. The hard plastic shell will stand up to a fair amount of abuse and the grip bar seems to hold the unit in place with great ease.
Using the G27
The G27 is a pleasure to use. Most games recognise the unit and automatically assign the correct functions to the various user inputs of the G27; meaning setup time is negligible. There is an interesting cable management system that keeps all cables tucked away neatly after installation, which is done in less than 5 minutes.
Racing with the G27, particularly in a simulator like Gran Turismo 5, is sublime. The wheel provides amazingly accurate feedback when cornering at high speed, giving enough opposing force without being overwhelming. Understeer, oversteer and loss of grip (when you drive over grass for example) are all replicated perfectly, it really does feel as if you’re connected to the car you’re racing around a track.
Shifting is responsive no matter which shift system you use; not once did I find myself in the wrong gear or pressing the shifter twice before it would gear down, it all adds to a fluid experience.
The pedals are what you would expect from any performance vehicle, and behave accurately. You have a level of control on accelerating and braking that a button on a controller just can’t replicate, and you’ll find that once you get used to using a G27 instead of a controller, your lap times will improve dramatically.
Every racing enthusiast should own a dedicated racing wheel. The amount of immersion and control it provides over a gamepad or keyboard and mouse is on a whole other level. However there is a level of immersion even higher than this, that only a top quality racing wheel can provide: one where you feel completely connected to the car, one that makes you cringe each time you go off into a sand trap, and recoil every time another racer rear ends you.
The G27 is capable of taking you to that next level, and while it may seem like an expensive toy to own, the smile on your face as you enjoy each second of racing is enough to justify the price three times over.
The Logitech G27 comes highly recommended, if you’re in the market for a racing wheel and can afford the price tag, look no further.
- Pros: Great build Quality, Feature Rich, easy to set up
- Cons: A tad pricy at around R2,999, though it’s completely justifiable.