Porsche’s most advanced race car to-date – the 919 Hybrid – has an appropriately advanced steering wheel. Who would have thought?
“Multifunction” sells the Porsche 919 wheel quite a bit short, as it comes equipped with a digital display, 6 paddles, and a whopping 24 buttons and switches on the front. The “wheel” is in actual fact more rectangular than round, a shape that’s proven advantageous during expedient driver-changes as it allows for more open legroom than a traditional till.
The screen on the Porsche 919 wheel is used to display in real-time various information such as vehicle speed, gear, battery-charge status, and the current motor-selection. A red control button (top, left) toggles through the various available readouts. A similar blue button at the top-right flashes the headlamps three times with each press to indicate the intent to pass to slower cars on the track.
In addition to these functions, there are buttons and knobs on the front face of the Porsche 919 wheel to perform every function from changing the pit-radio volume, to starting or killing the ignition for refueling, and everything in-between. There are even two “Multi” knobs, one with values reading “A, B, C,” and the other reading “1, 2, 3,” etc. that change the engine-mapping. Different maps are simply identified by an alphanumeric like “A2,” or “B1.”
Why doesn’t every car have that?
The six paddles on the back side are split into two columns, with three paddles on each side. The two biggest, center paddles are used (predictably) to change gears. Both bottom paddles are to operate the clutch, available on either side for easier operation no matter which direction the driver is cornering. The top-left paddle, meanwhile, is a redundant boost control (alternative to the button on the front face), while the top-right paddle toggles energy recuperation for the battery-pack that drives the front-axle’s electric motor.
The Porsche 919 wheel seems to us almost like the product of an explosion at the Logitech factory; perhaps a volatile vat of something detonated, sending game controller buttons flying like little multi-colored plastic projectiles every which way until they implanted themselves in a PC gaming wheel.
But then, who are we to judge? If the wheel fits, steer with it.