It's funny that you guys are talking about Pads VS. Wheels, as i tried out the Fanatec wheel last night. My friend is a sim fanatic, and ordered it months and months ago, and it finally arrived Monday. He gave me a call last night saying he has got it all setup and if i want to try it out.
First thing i done was drive a Ford Fiesta round Benchmark just to get used to the Clutch and Force Feedback. Surprisingly, i got used to it very quickly. With a wheel, it does feel very close to LFS. The Fiesta felt like the XFG, especially on slow tight turns. Lift off oversteer felt fantastic!
Next car i jumped into was an E36 M3, as i wanted to see how close it felt to the one i have on my driveway. I bought a completely stock one, and drove it on Silverstone. I was a little skeptical about how close it would feel to my car, but i was pleasantly surprised. The car felt incredibly close, and I'm not trying to say this as a fan boy either. It really was VERY close to my car.
It wasn't all perfect though. The car would understeer a fair bit on some corners, which wouldn't happen in mine at the same speeds on a similar corner. Maybe fiddling with the tyre pressures would have fixed this. The M3 in-game felt alot stiffer than mine too. Maybe, this could of been down to the fact that the M3 in FM3 is a Coupe, and mine is a Convertible. I suppose the Coupe would have less chassis flex, and i *think* the Convertible has slightly softer suspension to cope with the extra weight from strengthening the chassis.
Overall, i would rate the wheel a 8/10 and the similarity with my real car easily a 9/10.
I am seriously considering buying a Fanatec. I just need that £400....