We’ve been fortunate enough to get our hands on the Thrustmaster T248 Racing Wheel over the last few weeks and have spent plenty of hours showing off our driving skills in the likes of Gran Turismo 7, Dirt 5, and the newly released F1 22. Well… I use the term ‘driving skills’ very loosely, but hey, it has still been a lot of fun.
With plenty of racing wheels available on the market, we wanted to give our thoughts on the T248 and judge how it stands as an option for driving fans who want a taste of realism in their racing games at a reasonable price. And you know what? It’s pretty damn good, even IF you’ll need a decent setup to get the most out of the wheel.
So what are you getting with the T248? Well, there’s the racing wheel itself, a set of pedals, the clamp to fix it onto a hard surface, and a spring to adjust the pressure applied to the braking pedal. You’ve got a bunch of wires to connect everything together too, though they’re fairly insignificant – it’s easy to setup and they’re of a decent enough length to ensure you won’t have to sit too close to your PlayStation console to use the wheel.
Take a look at the Thrustmaster T248 in action in the video down below:
One thing that I feel is important to mention from the get-go is that you’re going to need a sturdy playing surface to clamp the wheel to. A table, desk, racing rig… anything that can hold the weight of the wheel and the pressure of its constant use. Think you can race with it on your lap? Think again (and get ready for a shock when it starts calibrating itself and the wheel starts spinning around against your legs). You’ll also want a surface that’s high enough to keep your legs under, otherwise you might struggle to have enough room to extend your legs and use the pedals with your feet.
It was something I initially had a bit of trouble setting up, so much so that I had to move my console and TV to my dining table in order to use the wheel effectively. Of course, this is something most people might’ve prepared for in advance, but casual gamers who might be a bit inexperienced with racing peripherals might find themselves in a bit of a rut when trying to simply find the best (and most comfortable) place to use the wheel. For me, it was the biggest issue I had, so it’s definitely something you have to consider before purchasing.
When it comes to the wheel itself, it’s hard not to be impressed by the quality. It’s solid, comfortable to hold, and has easy access to the different functions it offers, whilst the LCD display looks slick and is utilised in multiple ways – whether that’s when setting up the individual options of the wheel or when displaying in-game information. There are twenty-five buttons across the face of the wheel that allow you to perform typical tasks on your PlayStation console (it basically has everything you’d need with the exception of analogue sticks and the touch pad), whilst there are also a pair of paddles on the back of the wheel that players can use to change gears, with each ideally placed for those who like to drive ‘manual’. Personally, I’ve always preferred ‘automatic’ in my racing games and predominantly did so when using the T248, but it’s handy that it’s an easily accessible option for those who want that extra level of realism with their racing.
“It’s solid, comfortable to hold, and has easy access to the different functions it offers, whilst the LCD display looks slick and is utilised in multiple ways – whether that’s when setting up the individual options of the wheel or when displaying in-game information.”
With the brake pedals (which are pretty heavy I should add), it’s hard not to be satisfied. They’re sturdy to press down on, respond perfectly to the action, and can be easily adjusted to make braking more comfortable for the player. The only thing I will note was that the brakes could be a little slippery on surfaces when applying too much pressure or quickly hitting a pedal, with small movements occurring on a regular basis. You’ll definitely want to put something in place to grip them down or hold them in place, otherwise you’ll often find yourself having to pause a race to re-adjust their position.
Oh, and make sure you wear something on your feet when using them. I tried it with just socks on and it got VERY uncomfortable fast.
One of my favourite things about the T248 is the force feedback when hitting the brakes harshly, spinning out, and so forth – it feels like you’re genuinely wrestling with the wheel to maintain controls at times, which adds an extra degree of tension to the frantic racing action. You’ll feel the weight and pull of just about everything you do, whilst the vibrations help you feel the ferocious nature of the car you’re driving. It’s just really, REALLY cool. Of course, you can adjust the force feedback if you’d prefer it to be a little less intense, so you don’t have to feel intimidated if you’re worried that you’re going to spend half your time racing simply battling with the wheel.
It’s worth noting that there is going to be a learning curve when using the T248. In the last few years, I’ve only used a racing wheel in arcades, but having one at home where I was fully invested in my racing performance made me realise that I’m probably not as good at driving as I initially thought. I’d both oversteer and understeer on a regular basis, I’d find it tricky to find the sweet spot when braking, I’d get caught off-guard by the force feedback and lose control of my position… there are so many more things to consider when racing that you’ll feel like any lapse of concentration will throw you off. It could make it difficult to achieve victories in racing titles that I found easy with a controller, and, if I’m being honest, it put me off using the wheel at first.
Take a look at the Thrustmaster T248 in the images down below:
Practice makes perfect though and it didn’t take long before I figured everything out and was speeding to victories. In fact, I find that I’m having a lot more success when using the T248 than on a controller, with the added responsiveness of the wheel itself making it a heck of a lot easier to speed through topsy-turvy bends or when needing to hit a harsh handbrake turn. It was something I especially noticed when completing some of Gran Turismo 7’s licence challenges, where I was able to beat some of my previous times with ease and confidence.
One little detail that I found a bit of a distraction was the amount of noise made between the wheel and the pedals. Whether hitting the brakes harshly, swiftly turning the wheel, or switching gears with the paddles, there’s so much extra noise when using the T248 that you wouldn’t get with a traditional controller. In fairness, it probably won’t bother the majority of players, but those who do get irritated by a bunch of clicks or thumps may want to use headphones when playing.
Is it better than using a controller? Undoubtedly, both for the added immersion and fact that it’s simply more fun to use a wheel. Not only did it give me more control when racing, but it also felt more thrilling – especially when you’re jostling with the wheel when trying to recover after spinning off the track (which was something that happened a lot more often than I’d actually like to admit).
Is it worth the price? Whilst I’m not a connoisseur of racing wheels nor do I know the ins-and-outs of the specs of more expensive or cheaper models, I think that the £300 price tag of the T248 is very fair. Everything feels well built and sturdy, it’s intuitive to use, whilst it also has a lot of cool little features that make it more accessible and add to the immersion. It doesn’t feel like a poorly made piece of kit, but a heavy-duty peripheral that’s built to last.
What games does it work with? Lots. You can find a full list here, but I tried it out on F1 22, F1 21, Gran Turismo 7, Dirt 5, Wreckfest, and Monster Truck Championship. It felt great with each game, though it is worth noting that each will feel completely different to play. Driving an F1 car felt different to driving an off-road rally car with the T248, for example, whilst using a monster truck was a whole different ball game. I even noticed a difference between the F1 cars of F1 21 and F1 22 due to the different setup of each car with the recent rule changes, so it’s clear than an effort has been made to strive for authenticity. It adds to the realism and it’s really cool that it manages to capture the differences of vehicles, but it does mean that each game will bring with it its own learning curve. But hey, that’s part of the fun, right?
The Thrustmaster T248 Racing Wheel is an excellent peripheral that I’d thoroughly recommend to both veteran and casual racing fans. It looks sleek, its feels robust, and it’s a lot of fun to use, whilst features like the force feedback add a whole new level of immersion to the racing experience. It does have a bit of a learning curve to use, but when you figure it out, you’ll quickly find that your skills in racing games will improve ten-fold thanks to the extra level of control and precision that the wheel offers.
There is one caveat: it can be a pain to set up perfectly if you don’t have the right amount of space. You’ll need a solid surface to clamp the wheel to and a nice distance between your feet and the pedals, otherwise you’ll find yourself uncomfortable and unable to use the wheel efficiently. It’s something you’ll DEFINITELY need to consider before purchasing.
Other than that, I had a blast playing with the Thrustmaster T248 Racing Wheel. It’s not too pricey for what you’re getting, it looks and feels sturdy, it has an array of accessibility features, and it’s fun to race with… what more could you want?
Platform(s): PlayStation 5 (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, PC