It’s hard to think of a more exciting time to get into simracing than this current era of unparalleled choice and variety.many more games to look forward to over the year ahead.
But as racing sims have gotten more serious, sophisticated and expensive in recent years, so too has the hardware designed to help you get the most fun and immersion out of them. If you’ve even just casually glanced on a hardware manufacturer’s website to gauge what kind of price range you would be looking at, you’ve probably seen some eye-watering figures for modern day kit.
It’s pretty common to see figures north of £300-£500 these days – just for a wheel itself. And often that doesn’t even factor in a base, pedals and even accessories like a handbrake or manual gear shifter, let alone something to mount it all onto.
If it’s all just a bit too much money to justify and you wish there was a more affordable option to help you go racing, fear not – Thrustmaster have you firmly in mind with their T248 model for your consideration.
Compatible with both PlayStation 4 and 5 consoles as well as PC, at a RRP of around £300, it’s certainly not cheap, but it is designed to provide you with all the essentials you need. Not just to go racing online (or offline if you prefer), but to race seriously too.
But what kind of experience are you getting for your money?
For a start, you’re getting a great degree of convenience – especially on consoles. The term ‘plug and play’ definitely springs to mind here and it’s all thanks to the neat little LCD dashboard display in the centre and the menu system integrated with it.
Rather than messing about with calibration settings every time you go racing, you can adjust and modify so much from the dedicated UI that is built into the wheel itself. With just a few button presses, you can adjust global force feedback strength, wheel rotation range, or even invert the three pedals to suit your own personal rig set up.
It’s so quick to adjust settings using the wheel itself that it means you can jump between, say, F1 2021 and the 360 degree of lock required for an F1 car to 540 degrees for a GT car or even the full 900 for road cars in Gran Turismo Sport or Euro Truck Simulator.
You can switch through multiple functions on the LCD screen on the fly, allowing you to see your reference lap time, lap or position information or use it as a real time rev counter. In a nice touch, you can even choose the way that the rev counter is presented – such as left-to-right, from the inside-out or the outside-in. An incredibly minor detail that just allows you to personalise your experience that little bit more.
Out on track, the first major feature to note about the T248 is its fancy-sounding ‘hybrid drive’ force feedback system. While it’s not going to match up to the extreme power, nuance and quality offered by high end, direct drive wheels, it certainly offers an enhanced tactile sense of grip levels than wheels of even a generation ago.
There are enough buttons to map the majority of the functions you will require for most racing games you’ll want to play, especially on console. Don’t expect the same adjustable switches or dials that you’d get from a high-end wheel, but one plus-minus switch within easy reach of each thumb is perfect for quickly changing fuel mix or ERS modes.
Thrustmaster boast that their magnetic paddle shifters offer quicker response times and help to prolong the lifespan of the paddles and you can believe it as you punch up and down the gears. However, it’s hard to ignore just how clunky and loud the gear paddles can be.
If you’re racing in VR or with headphones on, it will be easy enough to ignore unless you’re sharing the space with other human beings. It’s pretty telling when someone comes down from upstairs to ask what the cause of all that clicking was. Don’t expect to able to get away with sneaking off in the night for a moonlit test session.
Beyond the wheel itself, the T248 comes packed with a very good quality set of three pedals with adjustable plates to alter the location and angle of each. The resistance of the brake pedal is even adjustable with various spring options included to make it firmer or softer depending what you like.
Be warned though – the default brake pedal setting is stiffer than a pit lane speeding fine and you’ll probably want to adjust it if you’re planning on using the pedals on your living room carpet, rather than a wheelstand or a full cockpit rig.
Don’t be put off from the idea of investing the time into adjusting the layout and resistance of the pedals to suit your own liking. It’s much less of a faff than you might expect thanks to the simple process of unscrewing the pedal plates and replacing the springs and it’s so worth the comfort that comes with having everything set up to your own personal preference.
For around £300, it’s fair to wonder if the T248 is good value for money. Given the price of the more premium options out there or older wheels like the T150 or Logitech’s G29, it’s definitely a good deal. Especially given the quality of the pedals and the improved force feedback over older models.
If you’ve wanted to dip your toes in some simracing kit for a while and have more money to spend on yourself after Christmas, you have a pretty enticing option to consider in this quality combo set.
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