Thrustmaster T500 RS Gran Turismo 5 Wheel Gets Release Date & Ridiculously High MSRP

A while back Thrustmaster’s new offical Gran Turismo 5 wheel, the T500 RS was teased on Engadget.  Of course then it was just a rumor.  However, recently the curtain has been pulled back and Thrustmaster is revealing all the details on the T500 RS including the release date and the MSRP.

Here in America we can expect to see the new wheel in stores on January 5th, 2011 (In Europe the wheel was released on Christmas day).  The real whopper is the price which weighs in at $599 before taxes!  That’s $100 more than the rumor price!  Although the rumors also suggested that the T500 wouldn’t come with a pedal set which turns out to be false.  Not only will the pedal set be included but its a special metal set that can be swapped between a “floor mounted” F1 style or “suspended” GT style positioning.  What the T500 will not include is an H-pattern gear selector.  There will be a unit coming but its release date and price have yet to be released.

Right now you’re probably asking “what makes the T500 RS worth $600?”  Well the short answer is research, development, and lots of metal.  Thrustmaster put a lot of time and effort into making this wheel as good as they feel they could make it.  The wheel rotates 1080 degrees (3 full turns) in either direction and is adjustable thanks to a 65 watt industrial strength electric motor with a dual belt drive.  It has 16-bit resolution firmware with 65,536 numerical values on its steering axis.  They also used metal everywhere they could use it.  The wheel assembly weighs in at 10lbs while the metal pedal set tips the scales at 17lbs.

Still, the price tag is pretty lofty.  Especially considering the fact that you can buy the flagship 320GB Sony PS3 console, the Gran Turismo 5 game disc, and the Logitech Driving Force GT wheel for less (559.97 before taxes) than what you would pay for the T500 RS alone.  That figure shrinks even more if you buy the Gran Turismo 5 160GB PS3 bundle instead of the 320GB version.  Also note the fact that the Logitech Driving Force GT wheel is perfectly calibrated for Gran Turismo 5 (it has its own screen in the game’s menu options) and the T500 RS starts to look really unnecessary.

However, no one outside of Thrustmaster has touched the T500 yet so outside of the company there isn’t a single soul who can say if the user experience makes the wheel worth the astronomical price tag.  Although CES is coming up and Thrustmaster will have a booth and the T500 on display so I guess we’ll have to wait for the reviews to come in to see if the T500 merits forking over 600 bones.


Press Release:

Preview at CES Las Vegas 2011 North Hall, Grand Lobby, Lower Level Thrustmaster Booth # 5015 & 5018

New York, NY – (December 23, 2010) – Thrustmaster, the innovative PC and console accessory brand, is pleased to unveil  today the T500 RS wheel and pedal set specially designed for Gran Turismo 5: a racing assembly that lets gamers live the most realistic, powerful driving experience, with no compromises.

The T500 RS is a real driving simulator, combining power and precision. Thrustmaster has drawn from more than 20 years of expertise in racing wheels, with a single goal:  to develop a wheel and pedal set that allows users to go as far as possible in the GT5 experience.  The designers have taken into account the expectations of the most demanding gamers, while also adhering to the technical choices of the developers of this new opus in the benchmark car racing series.

The T500 RS’s dual official GT5 and PlayStation® licenses are the result of this unique positioning, as Kazunori Yamauchi, CEO of Polyphony Digital and Senior Vice President of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc., explains: “The goal that I set for the Thrustmaster team was to design for me the most precise wheel ever developed, without any latency – to accurately reproduce the sensations of GT5, and let users truly feel the emotions experienced by drivers on real racing circuits.”

An Infinite Number of Driving Styles

Size and Dimensions: Completely optimized for GT5, the T500 RS meets the demand for absolute realism. The first thing users will notice when setting it up is its weight: 4.6kg for the wheel, and 7.3kg for the pedal set. Another instantly visible feature is the omnipresent use of metal – for the gearshift levers, the wheel’s central spokes section (30cm in diameter) and the pedal set. This has required a mechanical design with no compromises.

Wheel and Gearlevers: Ergonomics was at the heart of the wheel’s development, with an eye on optimizing game play, performance and driving sensations.  The sequential gearlevers mounted on the base feature large 17cm levers that are constantly accessible without letting go of the wheel.  The wheel itself offers a remarkable 1080° rotation.  These 3 full turns are also adjustable, thanks to a motorized stop, allowing the gamer choose the maximum degree of rotation according to the type of racing circuit and the car being driven.

Metal Pedal Set: The spacing and height of the 100% metal pedal set is also fully adjustable and accommodate individual driving preferences by offering 2 positions:  “floor-mounted” F1 style, or “suspended” GT style.  The brake pedal has been given extra attention, with reinforced and adjustable resistance that lets users perfectly tailor their braking with near surgical precision, and which includes a removable mod. A textured foot rest, also crafted entirely of metal, completes the pedal set. Gamers will notice that having 3 pedals at their disposal not only enhances the level of realism, but it also gives them a taste of what’s to come with the addition of an independent gear stick, which will also be available from Thrustmaster in the coming months.

More Power and Precision to Push the Limits of Racing

Force Feedback Racing Simulator: The T500 RS is a true racing simulator designed for the most die-hard racing fans: its power is unmatched, with Force Feedback effects relayed via a 65W industrial motor, providing 150mNm at 3000 RPM. The Force Feedback mechanism is vigorous, fast-acting and extremely responsive. While the power is potent, the integrated large dual-belt system ensures backlash-free and smooth behavior.

Totally Precise Wheel: Fans of even the most intense racing experience know that power alone does not allow them to achieve the best performance.  With this in mind, the T500 RS provides total precision which never decreases over time. The T500 RS employs the same technology developed for the world’s latest benchmark flight stick, the HOTAS WARTHOGTM. The magnetic sensor-based H.E.A.R.T HallEffect AccuRate TechnologyTM is incorporated into the wheel’s steering mechanism.   As a result the wheel is super-precise with 16-bit resolution and 65536 values on its steering axis.
With this wheel and pedal set, users will go farther than ever before in the thrill of the ultimate GT5 experience. Get ready for an extraordinary ride…

The T500 RS will be available from January 5 in North America and Europe and from January 25 in Japan, at a suggested retail price of $599.99.
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