If you’ve ever looked for simulation peripherals to take your gaming to the next level, you’re going to have heard of Thrustmaster. Whether it’s driving, flying, or lifting off in a space shuttle, Thrustmaster has a pantheon of peripherals to suit any mood. Their latest batch of steering wheels are aimed firmly at the new generation of console, and the exceedingly sleek T248 is all set to marry up perfectly with your equally sleek PS5, PC, or trusty PS4 – an Xbox version is also in the works. As you’d expect after years of wheel manufacturing experience, the Thrustmaster T248 doesn’t disappoint.
The T248 is a beautiful looking piece of kit, and while it commands a fairly substantial weight it’s a little less unwieldy than its predecessor the T300RS. It’s cheaper, too. Where the T300RS was priced at £330, the T248 is £300. Yes, £300 is still expensive, but it’s significantly cheaper than Thrustmaster’s £700 T-GT II or the premium of a customised Fanatec Direct Drive set up.
The housing of the body is slimmer than the T300RS, with sharply angled sides giving the wheel a more modern profile. The grip of the wheel itself is covered with leatherette wrapping on the facing surfaces, and plastic on the rear, though I was a little disappointed by the repeated screw holes on the rear of the wheel itself. On the whole you won’t notice them at all in use, but it can be jarring if you do.
They’ve packed in a host of updated technologies into the T248, and the most obvious new and shiny thing is the digital readout display in the centre of the wheel. This lets you choose from a variety of readouts, including MPH or distance, reading data fed to it by supported racing games. It also lets you tinker with various settings on the fly, whether you’re shifting from PS5 to PC, swapping the position of your pedals, or need to choose a different preset value for the wheel’s force feedback.
The first thing you’ll want to do is update the T248 to the latest firmware, and you’ll need a PC to do this. Unlike with setting up many peripherals, the Thrustmaster website gives easy and obvious access to all of the downloads you could want for the wheel, with a package picking up the drivers and the firmware, as well as the Control Panel software that you can use to tweak the wheel’s setup.
From here you can tune the wheel’s rotation or angle, as well as test each of the inputs to ensure they’re operating correctly. You can also test the force feedback of the wheel, with a batch of pre-prepared scenarios like a blown tire or bumpy road to showcase what it’s capable of. The final bit of tuning you can do is with the Gain Settings. The T248 is set at 75% as standard, and I’m not convinced you’d want to go much higher than that in any scenario, other than if you’re a giant person with arms that put Chris Redfield to shame. The ability to lower the feedback is perfect for younger gamers, or those looking to take things a bit easier.
Thrustmaster’s feedback has been thoroughly tested and tuned over the years, and here it ensures that racing games are brought to life in startling fashion. GT Sport was an obvious first port of call, and combining the phenomenal visuals with the T248 was transformative. This is the way this game was meant to be played, and the T248 is the perfect complement to Kazunori Yamauchi’s work. As a PS5-enabled wheel you’re also all set for Gran Turismo 7 when it arrives.
Moving over to WRC 10 and the bump and rattle of rough terrain gives way to the glorious sensation of tarmac with clear and obvious clarity. There is a light granularity to the T248’s steering, though it’s much less noticeable than the T150’s or the T300. The feedback’s transmission of bumps, clips, or the loss of grip is remarkably well done, and you really can feel where your car is needing, or wanting, to go.
I found the feedback thoroughly enjoyable, powered by Thrustmaster’s new Hybrid Drive System, mixing gears and belts together. The obvious sensation is one of control. When things go wrong the T248 is capable of utterly letting you know, bucking and vibrating with glee, while regular racing provides that all-important communication between driver and vehicle.
When paired with a PS5 the T248 works exactly as you’d hope, as long as you’ve set it to PS5 via the Mode button. You’ve got a D-Pad, and the PlayStation face buttons – minus the touchpad and analogue sticks – set into the centre of the wheel, accompanied by the T248’s Mode and Display buttons, and a pair of metallic toggles that mirror the media controls you’d find on a normal car.
The most obvious inclusion for serious racing, is the metallic magnetic paddle shifters positioned behind the wheel. Personally, I think they feel fantastic, being sturdy, responsive and built to take a serious amount of punishment. Some wheel’s plastic paddles feel like you could snap them off if things get too hectic – that’s certainly not the case here. The responsiveness and stability is the best I’ve come across on a gaming peripheral.
Their one obvious downside is that they are quite loud. Everyone around you is going to know exactly how many times you’ve shifted, so you may not be that popular with your loved ones. If you pop a headset on you’re going to be too busy enjoying yourself to notice… but then any people you’re playing with will know your gear-shifting habits.
The final part of the T248 package is the included T3PM pedal set, Thrustmaster’s latest iteration on the T3 pedal set. You’re getting a three pedal magnetic setup, each topped with an adjustable solid metal footplate that you can move the position of using the included hex key. Utilising Thrustmaster’s H.E.A.R.T. tech they’re designed for precision, boasting 12-bit resolution so you have true incremental control. In use you’re able to feather the accelerator and lightly brake as easily as stomp on them.
Unlike with a budget racing wheel, the brake pedal is considerably tauter than the accelerator as standard, and while you may find yourself putting more effort in to brake, it soon feels natural. There’s four pressure modes available, with a second spring included and a cushioning ring which allow you to make things even tougher, or a bit gentler if needed. Swapping them around can be a little fiddly, but nothing too taxing, so you can find out which setup is going to work best for you. If you want to invert the pedals for your setup it’s a quick and simple change to make via the Mode button.