Thursday Thrustmaster revealed its plans to launch a $199.99 gaming peripheral intent on pulling racing fans into the driving experience of their life. This isn't just some steering wheel yanked off the street and fitted for the PlayStation 3 and PC: it's an officially licensed controller replicating the actual Ferrari 150° Italia racing wheel at full size, but with loads of rotary knobs, switches and action buttons.
According to the company, this pricy gadget will be an add-on: it will fit snug onto the T500 RS racing simulator wheel base for the PC and PlayStation 3. Currently this set includes a realistic force feedback racing wheel and column, and a realistic pedal set. The Ferrari 150° Italia racing wheel, set for an early October launch, merely replaces the wheel that comes with the T500 RS package.
"Designed to attach to T500 RS wheel base, it offers the power and precision that make this racing wheel such a unique experience," the company said. "The Thrustmaster Quick Release attachment system enables users to easily attach the wheel face to the T500 RS base in just a few seconds. This innovative concept allows all RS Series wheel base owners to invest in the wheels alone to enjoy optimum realism in all types of races."
Thrustmaster said the Ferrari F1 Wheel Add-On will feature a scratch-brushed reinforced metal facing. It will also sport scratch-brushed metal F1 Push & Pull sequential shifters that are directly attached to the wheel (in true F1 tradition), and will even feature rubber-textured grips so that out-of-control turns don't transform into Wii remote mishaps.
As for all the buttons and switches mounted in the middle, they will include two rotary encoder switches (allowing direct, on-the-track optimization of the car's race settings), eight push-buttons (with a 6.5 N dual detent pressure), three 4.5 N metal switches with 3 positions and an automatic centering feature, two 2.5 N 8-directional D-Pads and two up/down shifters. The add-on wheel will also provide two game modes: Normal with 13 action buttons and 3 D-Pads (PC and PS3-compatible), and Advanced with 25 action buttons and 1 D-Pad (PC only).
The Ferrari F1 Wheel Add-On will be available in early October online at Amazon for the suggested retail price of $199.99. Other e-tailers and brick-and-mortar shops have yet to be revealed.