Thrustmaster T248 steering wheel test – racing pleasure for 350 euros, only one thing bothers me again

There’s really one thing that always struck me negatively with all the steering wheels I’ve looked at over the past few years. And the new Thrustmaster T248 doesn’t do anything better in this regard. These steering wheels are just not made for desks that still have drawers underneath. A real tragedy – at least for me. If I put 350 euros on the table for this, I would expect that I wouldn’t have to unscrew my drawer to use it. But as I said, the T248 is not alone in this. On the other hand: it is definitely worth clearing space for it.

So first unscrew the drawer and mount the steering wheel on the desk. In doing so, forget that I still have to attach the cables to the pedals and to the computer, so I do it again and a second time. But now … Seriously: the assembly is, if you want to call it that, not complex. Simply place the pedals in the desired position, plug them into the steering wheel, then connect the steering wheel to the computer / console and socket, done. To lay the cables, you have a couple of practical brackets on the steering wheel in which you can clamp the cables so that they don’t swirl around wildly. There is also a connection for an optional handbrake or a gear stick, if you want to treat yourself to something extra.

The setup of the T248 works without any major problems

After connecting, of course, the setup follows. This also happens without any major problems. The T248 calibrates itself after switching on, rotates once completely in the respective direction and then locks in the normal position. So don’t be frightened if you put on the good piece for the first time and it suddenly starts to turn.

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The standard spring attached to the brake pedal can be exchanged for an alternative supplied with the T248.

With a PlayStation 4 or PlayStation 5 you just have to connect the T248, the rest is mostly done by itself. If you connect the steering wheel to your gaming PC, it basically works there without any further installation. However, you should still get the force feedback drivers from Thrustmaster’s website downloadif you want to feel vibrations. And on top of that, it is important that you set the correct mode using the mode button on the steering wheel. For example, if you’re wondering when you connect it to your PC and nothing happens, then PlayStation mode is probably still active.

There are also other setting options for the T248. You regulate the strength of the vibrations in three stages, the angle of rotation is adjustable and you can turn the standard setting on the pedals and swap the throttle and clutch. If you wish, the steering wheel can even show you the engine temperature in real time. If you play on the PC, you can also use the Thrustmaster Control Panel to make further settings and calibrations until everything is regulated the way you want it to be.

Is the Thrustmaster T248 worth its 350 euros?

From a visual point of view, the Thrustmaster T248 definitely leaves a high-quality impression. The diameter is 28cm and there are decorations in a chic metallic look, while the outer side is covered with leather. Can be gripped well and feels comfortable without it slipping out of your fingers. You definitely have a good grip on the steering wheel, for me it feels better than a rubberized surface. Overall, the set delivers a convincing performance, everything leaves an impression of quality that is appropriate for the price. Everything fits, nothing wobbles, creaks or hooks.

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And then, as I said, there is the display on the steering wheel. Although I’m not convinced that this is really useful. It can show various speed or telemetry data if a game supports it. However, I then have to move my eyes away from the screen to see the speed or other things on the steering wheel display. Which I didn’t really do when playing F1 2021 and Co. because my eyes were always on the screen. So does it make sense? Perhaps less for casual racers, but those who professionally drive virtual races or play more simulation-heavy titles will probably be more pleased with the precisely displayed information.

The structure of the T248 and its functions

Otherwise, Thrustmaster has distributed 25 buttons on the steering wheel. The PlayStation buttons are arranged as you know them, you have a D-Pad for easier operation of menus and so on. L2, R2, L3 and R3 can also be freely programmed, which also applies to the rocker switches on the sides. Again, it depends on the support from the respective game, but you can use it to adjust traction control or ABS, for example, if you want and configure the switches accordingly.

If you want to change gear manually – who doesn’t want that when you’ve already bought a steering wheel? -, uses the two paddle shifters behind the steering wheel. They are very easy to reach with the fingertips and enable quick reactions when necessary. Thrustmaster uses a magnet system to prevent wear and tear on the respective parts due to friction. Sometimes it clicks really well when you let go of these rocker switches, but it’s not a huge disruptive factor, unless you want to drive in absolute silence. If you wear a headset, you won’t notice much of it anyway.

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The vibration function of the steering wheel lets you feel different surfaces just as much as an erupting rear end, oversteer and understeer and whatever else you can imagine. The simulation works excellently and, for example, brings over the subtleties of the individual surfaces well. The T248 uses a hybrid drive inside, it combines a gear drive with a more advanced belt drive. As I said, this ensures precise playback and fewer problems than with steering wheels equipped with a purely gear drive. It’s a good mean between this and even better (and more expensive) direct drives.

Just as important as the steering wheel is of course the pedal unit, consisting of three pedals made of metal, the inclination and position of which can be adjusted. Thrustmaster even supplies a replaceable spring for the brake pedal, which has a different strength than the built-in one, and you can also adjust the pressure resistance using a damping ring. If you can’t handle the built-in spring, just try the other one! Depending on the setting, the brake can be used very sensitively or depressed powerfully if, for example, you have to brake hard before tight bends. The result is a realistic, delay-free feeling, although at least there you don’t feel anything in terms of force feedback due to the non-existent vibration motor.

The T248 and its setting options

A total of four different brake pressure modes can be set, depending on the structure of your setup. For the pedals, Thrustmaster uses the same magnetic technology as for the paddle shifters on the steering wheel. This ensures precise, fast input recognition and results in less wear and tear. It’s a win-win situation. Regardless of whether you press the accelerator or brake pedal, your inputs feel correctly implemented in the respective games and at no point does the feeling arise that something is going wrong and, for example, despite the brake pedal being depressed, the car has problems braking. This also applies to specific situations in which sensitive control is important, for example in long corners or when you let the slipstream approach an opponent.

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Of course, there is also the option of connecting the pedal set (and the steering wheel) to a wheelstand, racing seat and similar structures. There are five different threaded holes in the pedal that help. If you don’t have something like that, you put it on the floor. Theoretically, five anti-slip rubber pads should ensure a non-slip stand. In practice, this is not as easy as usual and depends on the position and flooring. Assume that the pedal set will slide on laminate or carpet if you exert a lot of force, especially on the brake pedal. If you put it under a desk, the wall behind it can keep it from moving. Otherwise, as I said, a racing seat or similar things are helpful to prevent slipping.

So much for the prevailing practice. I have already outlined a bit that your entries will be transferred well and realistically. And that applies to more arcade and more realistic driving experiences. Whether in F1 2021, in GRID or in Assetto Corsa, the T248 did its job with flying colors and you always have the feeling of having your virtual car under control. It proves to be flexible and adaptable, whether with the brake settings or with force feedback. It lets you feel when you are next to the track, when you drive over different surfaces or when your rear is about to break out. It conveys an excellent driving experience with all the forces that are at work. So you can be pretty sure that if you make a mistake, it’s probably your fault and not this setup.

You can use the Thrustmaster T248 for example order from Amazon.de.

Thrustmaster T248 Test – Fazit

At around 350 euros, the Thrustmaster T248 is a good deal above the price level of entry-level steering wheels, but also offers more than adequate performance for this price. The hybrid system that Thrustmaster has chosen for this does a wonderful job and ensures an all-round successful feeling when driving virtual with the real steering wheel. And that goes for both arcade racing games and Sims. As far as the distance down towards entry-level systems is, it is as far upwards towards the professional steering wheels. With the T248, Thrustmaster has found a good middle ground, although I once again have to complain about the incompatibility with desks with drawers. And at least for me, I actually found the display on the steering wheel really nice, but I practically didn’t look at it while driving, which of course can vary depending on the game and player. In short: if you want to spend a little more money on a steering wheel, the Thrustmaster T248 is a good investment.

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