My fondest memories involving the racing genre mostly come from the arcade games that I played as a kid. Being able to sit in a replica car and speed down a track for a mere loonie was a rush unlike any other, and as I grew older that rush began to fade away—until I tried out the Thrustmaster T-GT, which somehow managed to not only bring back that childhood feeling but improve upon it and deliver a genuine racing experience.
Design-wise, the Thrustmaster T-GT pedals feel great and can be customized to your preferred level of resistance. The wheel is covered in a nice, elegant leather finish, complete with a shiny Gran Turismo emblem in the middle. It comes complete with an assortment of button inputs and wheels that you can tailor to your specific play-style. In Grand Turismo Sport this means that you can tinker with brake balance, traction control, torque settings, and more mid-race. Overall there are a lot of options to suit every player’s preferred settings. One of the few drawbacks with the inputs is that it’s very easy to brush up against the wrong one, which can be annoying—especially in the middle of the race—but is also something that happens less and less as you get used to it.
If you’re a racing fan who owns a PlayStation 4 then the good news is that the wheel is built especially for use with Gran Turismo and it has an exclusive operating mode that only works with that specific game. This mode is extremely impressive and it gives every car a distinct feeling on the track. Two-wheel and four-wheel drive vehicles feel unique and the haptic feedback is strong and feels quite polished. Fast cars fight you far more on turns than slow cars do and they can actually give you a pretty good arm workout, especially if you’re driving on longer courses. You can even feel when your wheels are slipping which allows for on the fly adjustments that bring a real rush to the game experience.
Another crucial thing to note about the wheel and pedal combo is that they also work with PC racing games and newer PlayStation racing titles, and it works quite well. While playing Truck Simulator Europe the rumble of my idling truck reverberated through the wheel in a way that felt extremely authentic to how a real truck vibrates. That authenticity is key, especially in a sim-heavy game like Truck Simulator and Thrustmaster’s wheel is a joy to use. It’s also very easy to map the controller schemes that you want onto the wheel, which makes the PC experience quite intuitive.
The biggest drawback with the setup actually involves the process of putting it together. To be blunt, setting up the wheel is a pain, especially if you’ve never assembled a racing wheel before. The instruction booklet does list all the pieces but its step-by-step instructions are so vague and unclear that it makes it very easy to set up your wheel incorrectly and risk damaging it. With such an expensive piece of tech that is a terrifying notion and an unfortunate drawback. Still, once you make your way through the building process successfully the payoff is nothing short of exceptional.
Which brings us to the $1,100 question. Is the value that the wheel gives worth the premium price tag that comes with it? In a word, yes. In a few more words, yes, but only for the most dedicated racing fans. If you’re someone who loves racing games and is looking for a fantastic and authentic experience, then it’s definitely worth the buy. I don’t think that anyone who buys the wheel will be disappointed, but I also feel that a lot of people won’t even consider buying it because of the high price point. This is very much a niche product.
As it stands, the Thrustmaster is a great wheel for the racing aficionado in your life, especially if they have a PlayStation 4. The wheel has a wide assortment of functionalities and the custom touches that it brings to Gran Turismo are simply astounding. It works well for PC racing fans as well and is a high-quality racing peripheral overall. While it’s not for everyone, the Thrustmaster T-GT is a well-done piece of racing tech that manages to capture the rush of racing.