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Next Level Racing GTElite sim racing cockpit review

We here at Traxion.GG do love sim racing cockpits by Next Level Racing. Its GT Track rig was the cockpit of choice in our studio up until very recently, with its F-GT Elite now taking point for John when he’s making videos.

It was released back in September 2021, but if £999/$1,009 for a cockpit without a seat is a bit too much, Next Level Racing has now created a more budget-friendly option – but with the same approach to build quality and customisability. 

Say hello to the GTElite. This is an aluminium profile cockpit coming in at only around two-thirds of the price (bar the seat) of its bigger brother, the FGT Elite. Yes, Next Level Racing’s naming conventions are tough to get your head around.

While you could buy aluminium extrusion yourself and build a cockpit independently, many prefer pre-fabricated pieces to make the whole process easier, and these Elite cockpits from Next Level Racing are no different. 

When you’re first opening the box, just the way the loose parts are packaged deserves that premium price tag. Bespoke-cut polystyrene keeps everything tidy and secure, and in a surprisingly small box when you think about what it becomes.

All of your bolts and bits are bagged up individually and labelled, as are a few of the aluminium parts if they’re specific to the left or right side of the build. Next Level Racing’s instruction booklets have improved massively, being much more specific and clear than before. As for putting the cockpit together, it’s really easy, and you can do pretty much all of it yourself. 

Pre-drilled holes, bespoke mounting hardware, and a lot of clear pre-placement of tee nuts in the instructions make building the GTElite a breeze. When I built and reviewed the Simplexity V12 last year, for example, while the whole process was similar throughout, I was sick of seeing these triangular brackets.

The GTElite uses none of these. 16mm M8 bolts put the vast majority of things together apart from a few instances of longer M8 bolts or some countersunk bits, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s a really straightforward build process. 

One element I must mention is, along with your usual pair of Allen keys and flat spanner, you get a mildly magnetic spirit level for when you’re mounting the wheel plate for the first time. A fantastic little inclusion to make things as painless as possible, though the wheel plate itself is quite heavy. While you can put it on yourself, I’d definitely recommend getting someone else to help you out at this point.

So far, the GT and F-GT Elite cockpits are quite similar, and from a building perspective, they very much are. That is until you’re sorting the pedal construction and building the shifter plate if you require it. 

The F-GT Elite features a different pedal mounting construction, meaning the pedals can be positioned much higher, making a formula-style seating position possible – hence the ‘F’ prefix. The GTElite doesn’t feature the same mounting hardware. It’s much smaller and simplified, and I honestly prefer it.

If you’re happy sitting in more of a GT position, these brackets will handle you with aplomb. I mentioned in the review for the F-GT Elite that while its brackets are ingenious in their design, the out of the box parts don’t actually work too well with it. The GTElite features very basic, screw the pedal beams in, and you’re done. Simple.

I also prefer the single beam shifter mounting to a right-angled piece which is more of a faff to put together. It’s not going to be as stable of course, but if you crank the bolts tight on the GTElite’s mounting, you’ll be fine. 

Those aren’t the only differences between the budget GT and premium F-GT Elite offerings from Next Level Racing, however.

The base rectangle on the GTElite is comparatively squatter to that of the F-GT Elite’s, which isn’t a dealbreaker whatsoever, but the laser-etched markings on the top of the base to get your vertical wheel plate pieces lined up are absent. It means you’ll have to eyeball or measure up your vertical pieces to get them in line, but once the wheel plate itself is on, adjustability after the fact is easy. 

Next, the rather flash logo-emblazoned ‘safety step’ included in the F-GT Elite is absent in the budget version, and you’re not getting the ratchet tool in the GTElite either. Also not a dealbreaker.

However, the tool storage thing that you mount to the shifter beam still features a cut-out for it, even though you don’t have it, obviously to save on manufacturing costs. None of those absences have put me off the GTElite, however. They’re all quality-of-life things, nice additions for the FGT Elite absolutely, but don’t think you’re getting half a product by going for the cheaper option. 

Once you’ve got it all built and adjusted for whoever is going to be using the rig, (we’ve got their new, lovely ERS1 Elite seat on ours), you’ve got one solid cockpit.

All the benefits to having an aluminium profile sim are here. Infinite adjustability and customisability, a plethora of accessories to ensure it’s never ever complete, and it’s built like a tank. No wobble, no flex, no nothing. You almost forget it’s there. 

Speaking of new accessories, we also got our hands on the new Elite Direct Monitor mount, meaning the footprint of your complete cockpit is smaller, more stable, and just looks the business.

In the end, this is an easy to build, infinitely customisable and upgradable cockpit, that doesn’t move under load, and is visually really clean. It’s definitely the best-looking aluminium profile cockpit out there, something I also said for the F-GT Elite.

Just one more thing, about what I mentioned earlier. I really do think Next Level Racing need to look at their naming conventions. They really are confusing at times. The ‘F’ prefix does make sense, but F-GT Elite and GTElite being two different products are just too same-y. That also goes for the F-GT Lite and GT Lite, you’ve got the GT Track, then there’s just the ‘F-GT.’

While you can’t really rename products post-launch, going forwards I don’t feel it’s too much to ask to get some variation going in these names. It must have gone to the Xbox school of naming conventions…

But if you’re pretty keen on either of these cockpits, which should you go for?

For the premium FGT Elite with all those lovely quality-of-life trimmings, it’s £999/$1,009. The GTElite which is, for all intents and purposes, the same rig without the formula seating position and extra flair, is £649/$699. Both of those prices are without the chair. General consensus within the Traxion.GG team is we feel the GTElite is the better option since it’s obviously cheaper, but without any significant compromises.

You can also grab the GTElite with that ERS1 Elite seat for the same price as just the F-GT Elite alone. It’s almost a no-brainer unless you want to go formula-style, which you can still do since there’s an accessory to give the GTElite that capability.

It doesn’t mean the F-GTElite is a bad purchase though. If you’ve got the dough, why not? You just get more premium for an already premium product. We have loved having these two rigs on-site. If you’re picking up either the GTElite or F-GT Elite, you’ll have a great time. You may never need to buy a rig again.

Reviewed using the Fanatec Gran Turismo DD Pro wheel base and wheel rim, plus CSL Pedals.

Full disclosure: The GTElite and the Elite Direct Monitor mount were provided by the manufacturer for review purposes. The ELITE ES1 seat was purchased for review. Here is our review policy.

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