Sim racing is an almost entirely new concept to me. If you'd asked me a year ago what I thought of the Alpine Esports Series, or my best lap time on Spa in iRacing, I'd have had no idea how to respond. But the phenomenon around immersive, realistic sim racing experiences is only growing, and I've been swept away.
As such, getting my hands on the T248, French brand Thrustmaster's entry-level wheel and pedals for newcomers to sim racing, was a delight. It's the perfect rig if you want to dip your toes in the water and try out sim racing without spending the eye-watering amounts that top-level equipment can set you back.
It isn't without its flaws, but for newcomers to the sim racing scene, you really can't go wrong with the T248. If you've got a PlayStation console and you're ready to hit the track, Thrustmaster has the solution for you.
For a newcomer, driving with the T248 is the perfect entry-level experience. Priced at a reasonable £300, the wheel sits at 11 inches in diameter, slightly smaller than you may expect from a normal steering wheel, but perfectly suited to most setups. The size makes handling that bit easier, with less of a need to yank the sides to cope with a particularly challenging corner.
Handling itself feels very smooth too, without any sort of drag or resistance to get in the way of your racing. The gradual learning curve of knowing how to handle a corner is a satisfying one, and the T248 is malleable enough to make it feel incredibly satisfying as you start to find your feet. I tested out the wheel on both Gran Turismo 7 and F1 2021, and the wheel excelled at handling the slower nature of the former game and the intense reactionary steering required in Formula 1 games.
The force feedback is no doubt a huge contributor to how accessible the T248 wheel feels. If you nick the kerb on a tough corner the wheel will pulsate to mimic the resistance you'd feel from your tyres, adding a whole extra layer to the immersion. If you oversteer and start spinning out, the wheel will spin leaving you the task of anchoring it before you crash. For a beginner's wheel, it's an exceptionally well-done feature, letting you learn the ropes of sim racing without ever feeling overwhelmed.
The T248 wheel also comes with Thrustmaster's standard pedal set, the T3PM. Their standout feature is the precision on offer, with a range of swappable springs included to adjust the brake to your liking. From my experience the default spring worked more than well enough, catering to gradual presses on the brakes by giving a realistic level of resistance. The same can be said for the throttle, which doesn't have a spring feature but feels equally precise due to the tread you can do with it. Most of the time you'll have your foot to the floor though, so don't worry too much.
When it comes to the clutch and gear shifters, I found that they weren't used a great deal. As a newcomer it was all too much at once to start worrying about gear changes when simply staying on the track did the trick. However, the magnetic paddle shifters found behind the wheel were more than a little noisy, giving a distinct clicking sound when pulled. It won't matter once you've got a headset on and can hear the roar of the engine, but those around you will certainly notice if you're fast on the downshifts.
One thing the T248 really needs to be commended for is the range of games with built-in compatibility. More than just letting you race with the wheel, many PS4 and PS5 games are also calibrated to the built-in display on the T248. This can be customised to your liking, showing metrics ranging from your current gear to fastest lap time. I chose to set it by default to my car's RPM, though having to manually swap over each time I switched on the wheel was a pain.
That said, if you can think of a racing game on PlayStation, Team Sonic Racing aside, the chances are it'll work with the T248. Whether you want to hit the top speeds in F1 22 or simply mope around on Bus Simulator, you're covered.
While it's hard to pick apart a beginner's wheel that does so much right, the T248 does have some drawbacks. Setup can be a difficult process, mainly due to the desk clamp that is included in the box. For most people it will be fine, but in my case, the clamp wasn't big enough to go over the circumference of my desk. It's a minor gripe that was resolved by simply using it on a different table, but for a beginner's wheel, it really ought to cater to players with all sorts of setups.
Equally, I found after a few days that the brake pedal in particular was starting to squeak when pressed, giving some slight resistance too. It's likely due to the intense use it received in those first few days, but again as a newcomer's product, these are problems that novice drivers would most likely want to avoid.
Those are but minor nitpicks in a piece of sim racing hardware that is otherwise pretty much faultless. It does exactly what it says on the tin by giving you a premium feel at a discounted price, and is perfect for anybody curious about the scene but not willing to blow out the big bucks just yet. It won't match up to some of the higher-grade hardware on the market, but if you're ready to explore sim racing for the first time, look no further.
Reviewed on PS5. A sample unit was provided by Thrustmaster.