When I was 16, I wanted to play Gran Turismo 4. I wanted to play it with a racing wheel, specifically the Logitech Driving Force Pro. I wasn’t able to even think about more expensive wheels from Fanatec and Thrustmaster at the time, so the DFP was my only choice. I even remember where I purchased it and the price: R1,299, bundled with GT4, from Musica at The Bridge in Port Elizabeth.
It brought me much joy over the next six years, before finally succumbing to water damage from heavy rains and a leaky roof. When I sat down to use the new G29 Driving Force, I was transported back to when I first used my DFP – which means it made a very good first impression.
Being the first racing wheel that Logitech has made in over five years, there was significant pressure on the company to deliver a better product than the G27, which was one of the best budget wheels on the market. They chose to not reinvent the wheel, instead iterating on the G27’s base by improving the internals. The force feedback motors are quieter and the helical gearing feels smoother, and somewhat more precise than the G27’s was. There’s no longer the annoying clunk-clunk of the vibrating motors when you roll over the shoulder of a corner on the track.
With the steering response feeling spot on without calibration, I took a closer look at the wheel itself. The rim is clad in hand-stitched leather with a blue centring strip at the top, which is replaceable (a Phillips screw head is required). There’s a spot on the unit I reviewed where some human error had been made in the application of the leather. Far from being a drawback, though, this adds some character to the wheel, and I don’t mind it at all. The centre spokes are made of black brushed aluminium, and this gives the wheel a very rigid frame that feels like it’ll last decades.
Unlike the G27, buttons adorn the face of the G29, with some being taken from the Driving Force GT for added functionality. The response of the L and R buttons is very linear and precise, but they’re the only ones that feel good; the rest feel muted or mushy, with the D-pad and action buttons feeling the most unsubstantial. At the top of the centre spoke a set of green, yellow, and red LEDs light up to represent your rev counter in-game, and at the very top edge of the rim is a switch to set the base to PS3 or PS4 mode. Just behind the wheel rim are two paddle shifters made of brushed steel. These have a linear response and a quiet click, and although they’re too close for comfort for anyone with larger hands than mine, they feel good.
At this point, the only issue I have with the design is the inclusion of the Share, Options and PS Home buttons on the wheel itself. Making the Home button larger than the other two results in me often hitting that instead of Options, and I often hit the Share button when not looking at the wheel while navigating menus. Moving these buttons to the base instead would’ve solved this.
Included in the box with the G29 is the pedal set, which includes an accelerator, brake and clutch pedal. All three feel good, and they’re completely adjustable. If you have an Allen-key set lying around, you can change the spacing of the pedals as well as remove them from the base for mounting to custom racing frames. They’re almost identical to the pedals from the G25 and G27, but the springs are tensioned to require more force to press the brake and clutch, though you can set the spring strength as well.
I ran into a couple of things that hindered my thorough enjoyment of the G29. One of those is game support. While it worked just fine for Gran Turismo 6 on PS3 and for Project Cars on PS4, there was only partial support for Driveclub and the new Need for Speed didn’t pick it up at all. Perhaps it’s just a case of the NFS developers not working with Logitech before release, but it’s disappointing nonetheless. Though Driveclub picked up the wheel just fine, it didn’t make use of the extra buttons taken from the DFGT, and it didn’t pick up the shifter either.
On PC, where I expected considerably better support, it worked with the simulators I had on hand to test (Assetto Corsa, Euro Truck Simulator 2), but it had flaky support for Dirt Rally, and in Grid Autosport the car wouldn’t stop turning left. I didn’t expect flawless support, but I did expect that most games would pick it up as they do the G27 and work from there. Navigating menus with the buttons was also hit-and-miss. Still, I’ve never had this much fun with Euro Truck before.
After calibrating the wheel for each game that supported it, the feedback and response was really good, and I didn’t feel like any of the experiences were a let-down. Project Cars feels particularly good, but arcade racers like The Crew don’t do as well. I dislike how each game approaches force feedback differently. Project Cars really ramps things up, so much so that I can’t keep my hands on the wheel when losing control of the car, because there’s the very real threat of the wheel breaking my wrist if I try to grip inside the rim while drifting. When I press the Options button in Driveclub and Project Cars, the wheel snaps back to the default position with serious force. There aren’t any options to change this, while on the PC Dirt Rally and Euro Truck Simulator 2 revert to default more slowly.
Giving the G29 a definitive score is difficult because of two reasons – one is the lack of support for certain games, which isn’t Logitech’s fault entirely. It’s slightly annoying that many games don’t pick up the rev counter LEDs, but that’s just nit-picking, and I don’t expect other potential G29 owners to feel the same. The second reason is a combination of the price and the packaging.
The Logitech G29 Driving Force costs R4,699 at retail. The shifter, a separate add-on, adds another R800 to that price. It’s a bit odd that you then get a three-pedal set with the G29, because who is going to use the clutch in manual mode with paddle shifts, really? Buying all-in to the product sets you back about R5,500, which puts the G29 in the same territory occupied by belt-driven wheels from Fanatec and Thrustmaster. That’s some tough competition for Logitech. That said, the fit and finish of the G29 more than makes up for the fact that it doesn’t have a belt drive.