Last year, Next Level Racing launched the innovative F-GT Lite cockpit as a foldable solution for those that don’t have enough space for a permanent sim racing rig. Prior to this, the Playseat Challenge provided the only viable alternative to sticking with a wheel stand or creating your own custom setup using an ironing board and office chair!
While Playseat’s offering is still a good option, I found that the F-GT Lite was a better all-round rig. For one thing, it comes with a shifter mount as standard and you can hard mount your pedals. But I also found that the seat was a little more comfortable during long driving sessions. And the F-GT Lite’s party trick—its ability to switch between GT and formula driving positions—was the icing on the cake.
Following on from this success, Next Level Racing has launched a second foldable sim racing cockpit, called the GT Lite.
Next Level Racing GT Lite
You can probably guess from the name that the GT Lite is a GT-only version of the F-GT Lite. It, therefore, has a very similar design. The seat is made from the same Alcantara and mesh blend. The wheel mount opens on a swivel arm to gain access to the cockpit. And it comes pre-drilled to hard mount your wheel, pedals, and shifter.
At first glance then, you might wonder why Next Level Racing has developed this new rig. After all, the F-GT Lite can do everything the GT Lite can and more.
Take a second look though, and you’ll notice a few things that might make the GT Lite a more appealing option for some sim racers. Firstly, it’s £50 cheaper at just £199 (UK) / $229 (US). That brings the price more inline with the Playseat Challenge, making the GT Lite a very affordable sim racing rig for those on a tight budget.
Additionally, because the GT-Lite only supports a GT driving position, Next Level Racing has removed most of the adjustment hubs, replacing them with fixed joints and simple pivots.
GT Lite Assembly
This simplified design makes the GT Lite a lot easier to set up and fold away for storage. It comes mostly assembled out of the box, so you should be able to get up and running within an hour. You just need to unfold the front leg (using the remaining adjustment hubs), bolt in the headrest and rear leg, and then attach the pedal deck and wheel mount assembly.
A quick tip is to take your time to align the headrest and rear leg correctly before slotting them into the frame. The tolerances are quite tight here, so it might take a bit of cajoling to get everything lined up. But, with a bit of patience, it won’t take you very long.
Thankfully, unlike with the F-GT Lite, there are no such problems when installing the shifter plate. This slots into one of the mounting points on either side of the seat and is secured in place with a single bolt.
Before you mount any hardware, I would recommend familiarising yourself with the adjustment hubs and practise folding and unfolding the rig a few times. There’s a knack to it, but the process is a lot easier than with the F-GT Lite. Next Level Racing has also put together a useful instruction & tips video which explains the process really well.
Due to the exclusion of most of the adjustment hubs, the GT Lite doesn’t fold down in the same way as its more versatile sibling. Instead, it collapses into a flatter form factor, much like the Playseat Challenge or a deck chair. Weighing in at under 15kg though, the GT Lite is very easy to carry around from room to room. It can also be conveniently stored in the corner of your room, by leaning it against a wall. In fact, in its folded configuration and with all hardware attached, the GT Lite will only take up a tiny portion of floorspace—just 61 x 45cm.
GT Lite Seat
The seat is primarily made from a breathable mesh material, with a bit of Alcantara thrown into the mix and two harness inserts to give it that race look. It actually works quite well and keeps you nice and cool when things get a bit heated out on track. There are also two foam inserts to provide lumbar support, but for me, these are positioned a little too far apart to get the maximum benefit. Still, adding an extra cushion is always an option if you need it.
At first glance, as with the F-GT Lite, the seat itself looks a bit oversized. That’s because the seat frame forms part of the structure of the chassis rather than just being attached to it like on other rigs. However, since the GT-Lite doesn’t need to support a formula driving position, Next Level Racing has been able to trim down the backrest. In my opinion, this helps to refine the overall look of the rig, while still enabling larger sim racers to take advantage of the extra seat width.
By swapping out the two adjustment hubs—at the base of the seat backrest—with hinge joints, the GT-Lite has also lost the ability to adjust the recline angle of the seat. Instead, the backrest is locked at a fixed angle of 105°. Moulded end-caps engage with the underside of the seat frame, to prevent the backrest from reclining further. And two latches are used to stop the seat collapsing forward under the tension of the material.
It’s not the most elegant solution I’ve seen, but it’s simple and effective. When leaning back on the seat, there is a slight movement in the backrest as it locks into place. But, once engaged, the seat provides quite a comfortable and supportive driving position for GT racing.
Both front and rear legs of the seat can be adjusted in height to accommodate drivers ranging from 4ft (120cm) – 6ft 6 inches (200cm). While the rear leg adjustment requires tools, you can increase the height of the front leg—on the fly—by 12cm in 2cm increments. This has the added benefit of pivoting the entire seat backward, providing a pseudo recline adjustment if you need it.
Wheel mount assembly
Attached to the left-hand side of the seat is a strap which connects to the wheel mount assembly. It somewhat reminds me of the window nets found in touring cars and adds to that immersive feel by enclosing you in the cockpit. The rig is structurally sound without it, but once you tighten this down it helps to stabilise the wheel mount and prevent lateral motion when steering.
For maximum rigidity, Next Level Racing recommends tightening down this strap prior to closing the wheel mount assembly. You can also utilise the extra webbing—that secures the rig during shipping—by looping it underneath the front leg and over the wheel bar. In my opinion though, this isn’t needed and just puts unnecessary stress on the frame.
That being said, I wouldn’t suggest running a direct drive wheel on the GT Lite. I’m not saying that the frame couldn’t handle it, but it’s not stable enough to get the most out of the extra torque; you’ll simple lose most of it through vibrations in the frame. However, you should have no problem running any belt or gear driven wheel, even with high force feedback.
On that note, the wheel deck is substantial, at 4mm-thick, and comes pre-drilled to fit most Thrustmaster, Logitech and Fanatec wheels. You can also adjust the tilt through a huge 60° range, using a toolless screw-in mechanism. This is really easy to do on the fly and holds the wheel deck securely in place.
For further refinement of the wheel position, the wheel deck can be brought forward or back in 2.5cm increments. To do this though, you need to unscrew and realign the four bolts that secure the wheel deck to the frame.
Getting in and out of the cockpit is made easy thanks to the wheel mount assembly opening outwards like a door. Again, this adds to the immersive feel of the rig and when you close the locking latch it’s almost as if you’ve just buckled into a five-point harness.
Adjustable pedal deck
As with the wheel mount, the GT Lite has inherited its pedal deck from the F-GT Lite, bar a slight modification. Considering ease of use and flexibility, it’s actually one of the best pedal deck designs I’ve used.
The two mounting bars slide smoothly along the rails of the frame to accommodate drivers with different leg lengths. These then lock in place, without requiring any tools, using the screw-in fasteners on either side.
To compensate for the lack of adjustment hubs, Next Level Racing has fitted the pedal deck with a removable support. With this support in the downward position, the wheel deck is tilted to 15° (perfect for GT racing). However, if you prefer to run your pedal set flat against the floor, then you can simply remove and rotate the support.
Thanks to the pre-drilled slots, you can also hard mount your pedals. This all results in an impressively sturdy platform that remains stable while performing heel and toe manoeuvres and other quick footwork.
Included shifter mount
At times when you are dancing around the pedals, you’ll most likely be changing gear using an H-pattern shifter. This can be attached to the GT Lite’s shifter mount that—like the F-GT Lite—comes as standard.
The mount can be fixed to either side of the cockpit and, even though you can’t refine the position further, it’s ideally situated for GT racing.
As with the other mounting points on this rig, the shifter plate is pre-drilled to fit the most popular models. With my Thrustmaster TH8A mounted with four bolts, I found that there was minimal movement in the mount and I was able to confidently paddle through the gears without the shifter slipping.
When I reviewed the F-GT Lite last year, I said that it was the best foldable sim racing rig on the market—beating the Playseat Challenge in a number of ways. And, considering how adaptable it is, I still stand by that statement.
However, if I was starting out in sim racing today, I would probably choose the GT Lite. I race mostly in a GT driving position anyway—even in formula classes. And I could put the extra £50 saving towards a better wheel and pedal set.
Additionally, I found that the F-GT Lite was a little tricky to fold down for storage. In fact, this is one way that the Playseat Challenge is easier to use. However, the GT Lite’s simplified design makes it much easier to fold down; I could easily see myself folding it away after every session if I needed to.
So, if you’re in the market for a sim racing rig that doesn’t take up much space and can be easily stored in the corner of your room, definitely check out the Next Level Racing GT Lite.