Earlier this year, I reviewed Next Level Racing’s new flagship cockpit—the F-GT Elite. With the gorgeous post anodised carbon grey finish, and aggressive shear angle of the uprights, it’s arguably the best looking aluminium profile rig currently on the market. Plus, the ability to switch between GT, formula, and multiple hybrid driving configurations makes it one of the most adaptable too.
As a complete package, considering all the included extras and inclusive shipping cost, I think the F-GT Elite represents good value for money. However, as a premium cockpit, the price point is still a bit too high for many sim racing hobbyists to justify.
Next Level Racing GT Elite
Like the Aussie brand’s entry-level GT Lite—which has been a huge success—the Next Level Racing GT Elite is a GT-only version of its more versatile sibling. However, thanks to the extended range of Elite series products and accessories, it’s fully upgradable. This offers aspiring sim racers a path to expand their rig’s functionality as their virtual motorsports career progresses and budget allows. It also means that many of the innovations that make the F-GT Elite so unique have trickled down to the GT Elite.
Impressively, this even includes the superb packaging. Opening the box reveals the EPS foam mould that both protects and organises each piece of aluminium profile. Additionally, all the mounting components and hardware are labelled and laid out in exactly the order you need them. This is something you’ll certainly appreciate if it’s your first time working with aluminium profile, along with the included easy-to-follow instruction booklet.
As with the F-GT Elite, the assembly process is quite involved, so you’ll need to set aside a full day or a couple of afternoons to assemble the rig, mount your equipment and fine-tune your driving position. However, due to the lighter grade aluminium profile (more on that later), it’s much easier to complete the build solo, as I did.
Though, Next Level Racing still recommends that you get a helping hand if you can, and has released an excellent instructional video (for additional guidance) on its YouTube channel.
Like its bigger brother, the GT Elite negates the need for unsightly corner brackets to join pieces. Instead, the base profile is pre-machined so that it simply bolts together directly. Aside from looking a lot cleaner, this results in a more rigid frame.
Custom brackets are then used to connect other pieces of profile. These are secured with M8 socket cap screws and T-nuts which are spring-loaded to help hold them in place. Unlike the F-GT Elite, which uses some roll-in T-nuts to connect less-load bearing components, the GT Elite utilises full-width T-nuts exclusively throughout the entire build. These need to be slid along the aluminium profile before you bolt it together, which can be a little tricky to do, but create much sturdier connection points.
The laser etched lines along the wheel mount uprights and pedal deck make it a lot easier to line up the mounting plates without the need of a tape measure. The included magnetic spirit level comes in pretty handy here too. However, presumably as a cost-saving measure, the alignment lines are absent from the base profile, so take your time to correctly line up the uprights to avoid skewing.
GT Elite design
Fully assembled, the GT Elite has the same base footprint as the F-GT Elite—just 121 x 65cm. However, the shorter pedal deck makes it feel like a much more compact rig. It’s 33% lighter too, at 35kg, due to the lighter grade aluminium profile utilised by Next Level Racing.
The design team has selected 4080 profile (measuring 40 x 80mm) for most of the rig, with four pieces of 4040 profile (which, you guessed it, measures 40 x 40mm) for the seat rails and pedal deck. This is comparable to most other mid-range models on the market. However, the aluminium extrusion is the thinnest I’ve seen amongst the big brands, with a smaller core width than Sim-Lab profile and that utilised by the F-GT Elite.
Thankfully, some clever engineering wizardry has more than compensated for this. The combination of a fully enclosed base, exclusive use of full-width T-nuts and custom 8mm carbon steel brackets, results in what Next Level Racing claims to be “the most rigid mid-range cockpit” currently available. The team has even published results from a Finite Element Analysis test to prove this.
Now, while I obviously don’t have facilities to check these results, I can confirm that the GT Elite feels just as sturdy as the Sim-Lab GT1 Evo; I didn’t notice any difference in flex-resistance during my testing.
On that note, the profile is nicely finished with a black anodised coating. It’s not quite as luxurious as the F-GT Elite’s carbon grey exterior, but—at least in my experience—it seems to be slightly harder wearing. And, with the GT Elite flaunting the same aggressive shear angle of the uprights, it’s still a very attractive rig.
Included seat brackets
As with the F-GT Elite, the Next Level Racing GT Elite doesn’t come with a seat as standard, leaving it up to the buyer’s personal preference. However, you do get a set of side-mount seat brackets, which most brands only supply separately. These are constructed from beefy 4mm thick carbon steel, for a flex-free connection, and have been specifically designed to support multiple GT seating positions, with 55 adjustment points.
Side mounting the ES1 sim racing seat—which I reviewed alongside the F-GT Elite—unlocks even more options. In the most upright GT driving position, the seat can be raised by 7cm, to better replicate a rally or touring car cockpit. However, the entire seat can also be tilted back as one unit by up to 10°. Factoring in the existing 105° fixed-recline angle of the seat backrest and an impressively adjustable pedal deck (more on that later) means that the GT Elite can also support multiple hybrid configurations out-of-the-box.
Additionally, the Elite formula upgrade kit—which includes the F-GT Elite’s larger seat bracket and pedal deck upright set—is an easy way to convert the GT-Elite into a full formula rig with maximum adjustability.
Next Level Racing ERS1 reclining sim racing seat
For those looking for a slightly more casual racing experience, the GT Elite pairs perfectly with Next Level Racing’s new ERS1 reclining sim racing seat, that you can currently pick up for £349 (UK) / $399 (US). Boasting a classic sport seat profile, the ERS1 is extremely comfortable, with tightly packed cushioning covered in breathable synthetic suede.
The wide frame and open shape suits larger sim racers well. But, for smaller users, the seat bolsters hug the lower torso and do a great job of keeping you centred in the seat. The backrest features cutouts for a 4-point harness, which—unlike the ES1—is not included and can’t be bolted directly to the seat. However, if you do choose to upgrade the GT Elite with the motion adapter upgrade kit, you can simply bolt a seatbelt directly to the frame.
Out of the box, the ERS1 comes in two parts, with some basic assembly required to attach the seat backrest to the base. Mounting the seat to the rig itself is a bit trickier to do, as you need to shift the pre-attached slider rails forward and back to access the four mounting points. On that note, the instructions advise that you use the low-profile bolts, included with the seat, to bolt through the slider rails. However, I found that the bolt heads were too wide to fit into the channels, which resulted in there not being enough available thread to do the job. Thankfully, swapping these out with some spare M8 16mm bolts, included with the GT Elite, fixed the issue.
In any case, once the bolts are firmly cinched down, the slider rails run smoothly and are easily operated via a lever under the seat. Alone, they allow you to adjust the position of the seat (on the fly) by about 14cm. Which is great for when you want to quickly swap out drivers, or if you just need a bit more wiggle room to exit the cockpit. However, to extend the slider range further, the seat can also be used in combination with the GT Elite’s in-build seat slider system. Just like the F-GT Elite, this works using custom slider tabs that bolt onto to the end of the seat rails. Thanks to a few felt pads underneath, these slide along the base profile with ease, without scratching the anodised coating.
Alternatively, you can indirectly mount the ERS1 to the GT Elite’s seat brackets. To do this, you need to mount the seat brackets directly to the base of the rig. This does mean that you sacrifice the ability to use the rig’s in-built seat sliders. But you can still use the seat’s slider rails and you gain some height and angle adjustability.
With the ERS1, however, it’s not really needed as the backrest can be reclined through a huge range. This is really easy to do (on the fly) by pulling the locking levers on either side and leaning back. Next Level Racing has designed the ERS1 with both double locking recliners and seat sliders for better rigidity. There is some movement in the backrest, if you deliberately push back into the seat. But, I didn’t notice this when racing, even when pushing hard on the brake pedal. Still, those looking for a completely flex-free experience may be better served by a single-shell bucket seat, like the ES1.
Similar to the F-GT Elite, the GT Elite comes in two flavours to suit different wheel types. The front & side mount edition is ideal for most direct drive wheels and works in exactly the same way as the F-GT Elite version I previously reviewed. However, the GT-Elite variant is not quite as flamboyant, with the anodised red aluminium spacer plates and side-mount brackets being replaced with black carbon steel equivalents.
The wheel plate version though, suitable for base-mounted wheels, is a complete carbon copy and features an identical wheel deck laser cut from 5mm thick carbon steel. Folded for extra strength, it’s pre-drilled to fit most Thrustmaster, Logitech and Fanatec wheels, with enough space left over to mount additional accessories and peripherals. Adjusting the tilt angle is a little trickier to do than with the front & side mount edition, requiring you to loosen and tighten the four mounting bolts. However, the range of adjustability is huge, and the included toolkit means that you’ll always have a hex key on hand.
Regardless of which edition you choose though, the two wheel mount uprights measure 87cm in length and support a maximum wheel height of 82cm (as measured from the floor). This is slightly shorter than the F-GT Elite, but still substantially higher than most other rigs on the market, allowing more leg clearance for a wider range of users and driving positions.
You can also lift the entire cockpit using the included shock-absorbing feet. However, I chose not to do this because the rig slides reasonably well on carpet without them. And this enables me to move it to the corner of my room when not in use.
With my Fanatec CSL DD boosted to 8Nm and mounted with four bolts, I found the entire wheel mount to be impressively strong and stable. I didn’t notice any flex while driving, but some of the more nuanced force feedback characteristics felt slightly attenuated compared to the side-mount setup. That being said, the wheel mount uprights remained rock solid throughout my testing, despite the GT Elite lacking the additional reinforcement from a shifter support bar.
Shifter & handbrake mount
Instead, Next Level Racing’s mid-range model ships with a shifter arm only. Like the F-GT Elite though, this is attached (in the same way) to either the left or right wheel mount upright. Similarly, the included shifter plate can be moved forward or back, by about 15cm, along the shifter arm. With a maximum extension of 30cm, it can also be adjusted to your desired height.
Made from 2mm thick carbon steel, the shifter plate provides a flex-resistant platform for most shifters on the market. There are also additional mounting slots to pair this with a handbrake. The tilt angle can be adjusted by 30°. And, thanks to the dual slot design, it works regardless of whether you mount your shifter on the left or right side of the rig.
After a bit of experimentation, I was able to mount my Thrustmaster TH8A (with four bolts) in a comfortable position for GT racing. And, even with the lack of an additional support bar, I was able to confidently paddle through the gears without the shifter slipping.
Moving down to the pedal deck, the GT Elite sports a very similar design to its bigger brother. However, since the rig doesn’t need to support a formula driving position, the F-GT Elite’s over-sized pedal deck uprights have been shortened down to 16cm.
Even so, by moving the uprights as far back as possible, you can actually tilt the pedal deck to an impressive 30°. As I discussed earlier, this means that the GT-Elite is capable of supporting multiple hybrid driving positions out-of-the-box. So, you don’t necessarily need to purchase the Elite formula upgrade kit, unless you require a full formula set-up. However, it’s worth pointing out that the pedal deck is not in its strongest configuration with the uprights positioned this far back. So, while I was perfectly happy running my Fanatec ClubSport V3 set (with a 90kg load cell), I don’t think it would be suitable for hydraulic pedals with higher brake forces.
In a regular GT position though, with the uprights shifted forward, the entire pedal deck is rock solid. Just like the wheel plate, the two pedal plate bars are constructed from 5mm thick carbon steel and folded for extra strength. They can be slid independently along the profile arms to match the bolt pattern of your pedals and to adjust the pedal distance.
Next Level Racing states that the GT Elite can support drivers ranging from 4ft – 6ft 9 inches and have addressed one of my only issues with the F-GT Elite. Due to the design of the F-GT Elite’s pedal arm brackets, the minimum pedal deck distance is limited by the position of the wheel mount uprights. However, with the GT Elite’s adjusted design, the entire pedal deck can now be slid back independently, making it much easier for shorter sim racers to fine-tune their driving position.
Next Level Racing Elite direct monitor mount
For those looking for an ultra-compact setup, Next Level Racing has released a direct monitor mount alongside the GT Elite. Starting at £229 (UK) / $249 (US), for the matching anodised black version, this single screen holder is a great alternative to a free-standing solution and can be extended further with an overhead monitor adapter.
Constructed out of two lengths of 4080 profile and three pieces of 4040 profile, it attaches to the wheel mount uprights via two brackets.
In my opinion, it’s the perfect option for running an ultrawide or one of the latest generation 49″ super ultrawides. It’s depth and height adjustable and mounts VESA patterns 100 x 100mm, 100 x 200mm and 200 x 200mm.
The adjustability makes it really easy to position your monitor perfectly and dial-in a realistic field of view. And, even though it adds a little extra load to the wheel mount, I found that it performed flawlessly with my setup—securely holding my 34″ Acer X34 in place.
In my F-GT Elite review, I praised Next Level Racing’s ability to innovate, and it’s great to see this continue with the GT Elite. By taking the best bits from the F-GT Elite and refining them into a simpler package, the team has crafted an outstanding mid-range aluminium profile cockpit at a price point that many sim racers will find more appealing.
While the GT Elite is not as flashy as Next Level Racing’s flagship model, its stealthy black exterior still looks the part. And, what’s more, it’s surprisingly versatile, with the ability to support multiple driving positions in addition to GT. Perhaps more importantly though, it can be upgraded with various add-ons down-the-line. So you won’t need to upgrade to a completely new rig to unlock more features.
Of course, to make the GT Elite more affordable, some sacrifices have had to be made. While most of these are more superficial, the lighter grade aluminum profile is more notable. That being said, the overall design of the rig means that, according to Next Level Racing at least, the GT Elite is still “the most rigid mid-range cockpit” currently on the market. And, though I obviously don’t have the facilitates to scientifically verify this, I have no reason to doubt the brand and I can confirm that the rig feels just as stable as other mid-range cockpits I’ve tested.
Plus, you get a lot of included extras; parts like the seat sliders, seat brackets, buttkicker mount and cable clips are things that other brands only supply separately.
While budget will probably be your primary consideration when selecting between Next Level Racing’s new aluminium profile rigs, the GT Elite has a couple of additional advantages to take into account. For one, it feels like a much more compact package, even though it has the same base footprint as the F-GT Elite. For shorter sim racers though, independent adjustment of the pedal deck position now makes things a lot easier.
If you were to ask me which of the two cockpits I would choose, my answer may surprise you. For my current setup, where I don’t have a dedicated sim racing room and I’m not yet running motion, I’d actually select the GT Elite. I race mostly in a GT or hybrid driving position anyway and the GT Elite offers a pathway to upgrade features as an when I need them. Either way, you won’t go wrong with any of Next Level Racing’s Elite series rigs.