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Next Level Racing F-GT Elite 160 review: a new segment leader

Next Level Racing’s Elite Cockpit series has a new flagship model – the F-GT Elite 160. The new, big brother to the sim racing gear maker’s previous top model, the 160 version is bigger, bulkier and rumored to be in everyone way better.

So it wouldn’t be a Traxion.GG review where we share our experience of using this device over the last few weeks and let you know if it’s worth the premium price.

specifications

First we have to consider who this cockpit is for, and we’d say it’s for the wealthy sim racer or those who are fully committed to the most solid and unfiltered virtual driving experience possible.

We’re talking strong wheelbases with direct drive and up to 20Nm of torque and heavy pedals – we’ve tested it with some Asetek hydraulic systems, for example. Any less extreme peripherals would go to waste on this behemoth.

This top-of-the-line vehicle offers an equally premium price point: £1,149/$1,149 or £1,300/$1,300 for the Officially Licensed Ferrari Edition, both without a seat.

For these prices one would expect near perfection…

The build process

The Next Level Racing FGT Elite 160 comes in a huge box that is extremely heavy – a first indication of how tough this rig is going to be.

Despite the long journey to our UK testing ground, it arrived in perfect condition, with every part packed tightly and neatly in styrofoam. Packaged so perfectly that some parts were impossible to remove without breaking the styrofoam. So make sure you have a vacuum cleaner handy.

The construction process alone took three and a half to four hours at a time. That was on the floor, but having a table and a friend to help you would make things easier on you and your joints.

Next Level Racing F-GT Elite 160 build process

Luckily, the profile tubes are all pre-drilled and tapped for a perfect fit the first time, with no need for angle brackets!

An essential help is the manual, which is clear and concise, making the creation process as smooth as possible. It includes a QR code that also links to Next Level Racing’s own building instructions so you can follow along as the rig is assembled.

This is probably the easiest rig building process I’ve ever experienced for an aluminum profile setup and a key selling point for the Elite Series sim racing cockpits.

It’s the thought that counts

During construction you will appreciate the attention to detail that has gone into the design, starting with the t-nuts themselves. They are much wider and chunkier than anything I’ve seen on a rig before. That should mean every bolt, joint and connection is stiffer and more secure.

They can only be inserted at the end of each profile piece, but Next Level Racing has you covered and will tell you exactly where and how many to add to each profile piece in the instructions.

Next Level Racing F-GT Elite 160 ratchet

Another very helpful addition from NLR is a dual hex head ratchet, which makes installing and tightening all the bolts a lot easier. However, we would recommend using the standard Allen wrench for the final turn of tightening, as towards the end of the build from excessive stress our ratchet began to slip.

As such, I would also recommend purchasing your own ratchet kit if you plan to adjust your rig on a regular basis.

Other useful accessories included a spirit level and felt pads for the mating surfaces on the seat rails and wheel deck – to keep your cockpit looking like a $1000 bill even after assembly and adjustment.

ergonomics

Once assembled, all you have to do is adjust it to your body and desired riding position. The latter is of course one of the unique selling points of the F-GT range and gives you the option of sitting like a GT or single-seater race car; FG-T of course stands for Formula, GT.

The adjustment possibilities of this rig are extensive and the scope for individual adjustments is enormous, again thanks to the F-GT design. While you can change driving position from Formula to GT and everywhere in between, it’s no easy task and requires tools, screws and a significant amount of time.

Customization of the Next Level Racing F-GT Elite 160

They will likely adjust this rig to the position I want and then leave it again as we feel that changing position more than a few times a year would become tedious.

There should be plenty of adjustment options for most people, with the ability to change seat height and angle, as well as pedal angle, height and pedal spacing, and finally steering wheel spacing and height. Making sure everything is square and symmetrical is also made easier by the reference lines printed on the main rails.

Make yourself comfortable

One of the main strengths of this rig is its sturdiness, due in part to the number of solid connections in each section. However, as a result, the initial setup can be time consuming as the steering arms, shifter mount and pedal brackets are all interconnected. Move one and the rest will follow.

Adjusting the wheel deck is a bit fiddly and it binds easily. So I highly recommend asking a friend for help as trying to lift, tilt and tighten two bolts at the same time is quite difficult, speaking from experience…

Next Level Racing F-GT Elite 160 Sim Racing Cockpit

The cleat plates don’t have one correct position, so you’ll need to figure that out based on your desired seating position as well. It may take a few tries to find the right position, but it’s worth it.

The building and tuning of this setup are just a small part of the reasons you would buy it. Of course, the most important thing about this machine is how it drives…

rock solid

You can immediately feel how solid it is, despite a powerful wheelbase and a very powerful brake pedal with no flex. The only flex we saw was in the wheel and the wheel base shafts themselves.

The wheel deck is made of steel and is attached to the very strong side pillars, which are significantly thicker than the non-160 F GT. The same applies to the two transverse pedal mounting arms. We could not detect any flexing movements, despite a set that can withstand up to 200 kg of pressure and averages around 60-70 kg.

Next Level Racing F-GT Elite 160 Pedals

The right shifter mount was in the ideal location for us and required no further adjustment from the original position. However, it can also be mounted on the left side if you prefer, and angular, fore/aft, and left-to-right changes are all possible. Hell, it could even be mounted on the side of your seat.

Aside from practicality and towards the subjective realm of design, we happened to find that the anodized black finish looked elegant and seemed to maintain its color confidently despite the shifting of several elements – contributing to a premium experience. Goodbye scratches.

Next Level Racing F-GT Elite 160 Sim Racing Rig

The layout is not perfect in our opinion. The wheelbase mounting arms, while sturdier than a rugby player’s and sporting that coveted anodized finish, rise quite high and, at least in our testing, overlap with your field of view at the bottom of the monitors.

We’ve found it also limits the ability to get the screens closer to the driver, something to consider with smaller monitor sizes.

ERS2 seat

Matching the Elite 160, we were now also able to test the ERS2 sim racing seat. Conveniently, it has an easy-to-use, adjustable rail system that’s great for multi-user use, and it can also be reclined for added comfort.

However, the ability to recline does add some flex or movement during heated sim racing moments, but it’s understandable for a seat of this nature and we didn’t find it a distraction.

ERS2 Seat Next Level Racing

The value proposition is strong too at £299/$299.

However, if you want the maximum Formula 1 style experience, might we recommend the ES1 sculpted and rigid tail? However, keep in mind that it is £150/$150 more expensive.

Market leading

make no mistake The Next Level Racing F-GT Elite 160 is the most stable ride I’ve ever used, and flexibility isn’t an issue here. The building process is as simple as any product of this nature and the instructions help make it as painless as possible.

As an added bonus, we think it looks great as each piece is perfectly finished in that alluring black anodized finish. The Ferrari logo option for an additional £150/$200 is also a great deal.

Review of the Next Level Racing F-GT Elite 160

As promised, a Formula or GT driving position is indeed possible and with almost unlimited tuning possibilities you will find a position that suits you.

On the track you’ll feel every detail of the force feedback and even the heaviest lead feet will be contained. The long steering arms are an inconvenience for triple monitor users and may be a problem for some, but it’s a minor drawback.

The premium price is offset by the added value of attention to detail, overall quality, and added extras that most other rigs can’t match. It’s the details like the workmanship, the tools, the cable management and the excellent instructions that justify the price, not just the concrete-like construction.

Full Disclosure: This product was provided by the manufacturer for testing purposes. You can find our evaluation guidelines here.

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