Sim racing is a fun hobby, but obviously a cost- and space-prohibitive one. If you have the ability to keep your setup in an office or perhaps its own room, more power to you. But if you live in a small apartment (ahem), shoehorning a wheel and pedals into your home along with some sort of apparatus to hold them up, while you’ve also got regular-person furniture like a coffee table and a sofa to deal with, quickly becomes a frustrating game of living room Tetris. The result is always a compromise and never elegant.
Fortunately, the clever folks over at BMW Designworks have cooked up a solution, just days after the automaker revealed a partnership with Fanatec to produce a real-life M4 GT3 racing wheel for sim use.
Called the Fusion SL and brought to our attention by the fine folks over at GTPlanet, this contraption essentially takes the form of a funky postmodern wheel stand crafted from recycled materials like flax, wood and PET plastic. It’s definitely out there, but at least it looks more like actual furniture than any cockpit. I think I’d be able to manage to keep one of these in my living room long term without drawing scorn from family, friends, or roommates.
The beauty of the Fusion SL is that it can be converted from a functioning rig to a desk or small table when not in use. The back portion that ordinarily slopes down behind the steering wheel moves up to become a flat surface you can actually place things on. The flap that holds the steering wheel pivots inwards so that the wheel tucks underneath the tabletop when stowed away. Sedus, the furniture company BMW partnered with to develop the Fusion SL, says the whole thing can be transformed in and out of race mode in “just a few seconds,” and it’s also supposedly a cinch to move thanks to built-in wheels and a handle.
BMW and Sedus remain tight-lipped on pricing, though it is clear that the Fusion SL is more than a design study and they’re intending to bring it to market eventually. Sedus also offers a lounge chair, appropriately named Wooom, that it says has been “technically optimized” for sim racing — though you may find an ordinary office chair suffices.
Whatever the Fusion SL ends up costing, it probably won’t be all that affordable. Sedus’ chairs already appear to be several times pricier than your typical Staples swivel chair; now consider a wheel stand that doubles as a table and needs to be built to withstand the rigors of both, and the result doesn’t scream “cheap to make.” As Michael Scully of BMW Designworks says:
It is not easy to strike the right balance between the necessary stability, portability, flat profile, torsional rigidity and a visual impression that will bring the piece of furniture out of the cellar and into the living room, as many of these aspects contradict each other. However, design is all about overcoming these challenges.
Those are indeed a lot of priorities to keep straight, which might explain why this sort of product is rare. Nevertheless, if BMW and Sedus can pull it off and somehow keep the price down as I pray they do, the Fusion SL might pose a welcome alternative to the folding tray tables that thrifty, space-conscious sim racers are unfortunately all too familiar with. You can register your interest for updates at this website.