Halfway between the T150/TMX and the T300/TX, Thrustmaster's T248 is positioned in a price segment in which Logitech's steering wheels flourish. This time, it offers a real proposal for the pedalboard.
A T300 RS GT (with a T3PA 3-pedal pedal board) and at the same price as a classic T300 RS (with a basic 2-pedal pedal board), the T248 is truly Thrustmaster's most aggressive proposal in the mid-range force feedback steering wheel segment accompanied by a 3-pedal pedal board. 70% more powerful than the T150 and TMX, according to Thrustmaster, more complete and better finished, the T248 is accompanied by a revised pedalboard, the T3PM, inspired by Thrustmaster T-LCM Pedals. On paper, this is enough to dominate Logitech's G923, a target for the French manufacturer.
The Thrustmaster T248 is also officially PlayStation compatible and works equally well on PS4 and PS5. Of course, the PC has not been forgotten. On the other hand, you have to make a cross on part of the Thrustmaster ecosystem, since the steering wheel is not interchangeable this time. Fortunately, there is still the possibility of connecting a manufacturer's shifter or handbrake directly to the steering wheel, which makes it a good entry point into the world of car racing simulation.
To design its T248, Thrustmaster started with a blank sheet of paper, contrary to what it had done for its T150, which finally took design elements and some parts from its big brother the T300. A good opportunity to miniaturize the base of the steering wheel, since the components that occupy it are less voluminous than those of the more high-end steering wheels. That's what strikes you first when you take it out of the box, the T248's base is only about 20 cm wide and 16.5 cm high. It is also quite light (about 8 kg).
The steering wheel is also completely revised. With a diameter of 28 cm, it is visually very modern and made entirely of plastic. While it is regrettable that Thrustmaster did not use a bit of metal to give its steering wheel a more upscale touch, the final appearance is rather pleasing to the eye and to the touch. The steering wheel looks sturdy despite everything and leaves a better impression than the T150, which looked much worse. The T300 or even the G923 still look a little less video game-like than this T248 with a more futuristic and original design.
Gone is the rubber finish of the T150 and T300 RS, replaced by a foamed leather around the wheel. The touch is pleasant and the hands adhere well to this coating. Let's just hope it will resist to wear and tear, since it won't be possible to change this wheel. The T300, TX and other top models from Thrustmaster keep this advantage.
Because of PlayStation compatibility, the buttons of the DualShock/DualSense controllers are located on either side of the central Thrustmaster logo. Apart from the DualSense controller's specific microphone button, there are no buttons missing and there are even two encoders in the form of two-position switches designed to manage telemetry and car settings in compatible games.
Made of plastic like the rest of the steering wheel, the paddle shifters discreetly take their place behind the steering wheel from which they are attached. Although we didn't mind their short length, a few more centimeters would have been nice to handle them even more easily. In any case, Thrustmaster has reviewed their operation and no longer relies on simple switches. It now offers a magnetic activation, for faster shifting times (response time 30 ms) and a better longevity, according to him. In use, the touch is firm and the stroke of these paddles seems a bit long. We especially deplore their very loud activation, which is annoying if you're not wearing a helmet, and even for your entourage if you're planning night sessions. It would have been enough to dampen the rebound of these paddles to significantly reduce this irritating slamming noise.
Despite a change in design, the base of the T248 is fixed in the same way as other Thrustmaster steering wheels, with 2 screws if you use a steering wheel mount or racing cockpit, or with a clamp that clamps under a desk to hold it in place. In either case, the attachment is secure, nothing moves.
The cables for power, connection to the console or PC (USB-C) and connection to the pedal board (RJ-12 connector) are guided under the base of the steering wheel and kept attached by a simple Velcro. There is also a connector for a gearshift or a handbrake.
A 3-pedal pedalboard
Long criticized for its very basic 2-pedal pedalboards that continued to pale in comparison to the one that has accompanied Logitech steering wheels for several generations now, Thrustmaster has now taken the bull by the horns to avoid disappointment. Although the T3PA is pretty decent for a mid-range steering wheel, the French manufacturer has decided to go one step further by designing a brand new pedalboard. Named T3PM - and also sold separately for €129.99 - it uses the same Heart magnetic technology as the steering wheel, thus eliminating the problem of wear and tear of the potentiometers used until now (including in Logitech's pedalboards, precisely). The guarantee of a constant precision too, on 12 bits.
Modeled after the T-LCM Pedals, the T3PM has the same dimensions and pedal shape, but abandons metal for plastic. Only the pedal plates are made of aluminum, for better durability and more rigidity. The T3PM offers the same pedal adjustments as the T-LCM, the pedal plates can be adjusted laterally (3 possible settings), while the throttle plate can also be adjusted in height (2 positions). The inclination of each pedal can also be changed (2 positions).
On the brake pedal side, there are 4 possible pressure settings, depending on whether you use one or the other spring provided and whether or not you combine them with an elastomer ring. The choice of the hardness of the assembly depends on whether you use the crankset directly on the ground or firmly attached to a support/cockpit. It is recommended to use the softest setting if the crankset is simply placed on a smooth floor, as it tends to slip quickly. A wedge may be sufficient, but it is better to provide a pedal support, or even a real cockpit if you want to get the most out of this equipment. It is then possible to increase the brake pressure (up to 200 kg, according to Thrustmaster) to get a little closer to the sensations you would have in a real race car (all things considered). Of course, it doesn't have the subtlety of a load cell brake pedal like the T-LCM or the CSL Elite Pedals Loadcell, but it's already much better than what Thrustmaster has been offering on its other pedalboards, including the T3PA.
An interesting hybrid force feedback
For its T248, Thrustmaster has also revised the force feedback mechanism of its steering wheel, adopting a hybrid technology based on gears and belts. While the notches of the gears are still felt, the belt provides the expected flexibility, thus avoiding the dryness of force feedback generated by mechanisms made up solely of gears. A sort of intermediary between the T150/TMX force feedback and that of the T300/TX and other superior steering wheels from Thrustmaster.
In any case, Thrustmaster announces that its T248 is up to 70% more powerful than its T150. Indeed, without reaching the vigor of the T300/TX, we notice a progression at this level. Not enough to impress us too much when we are used to the explosiveness of more high-end wheels, but for a wheel under 400$, it is already quite satisfactory.
However, the force feedback is quite discreet on setting number 1, which is content to accurately reproduce the effects requested by the game. The steering wheel doesn't do too much, acting mainly on grip loss and oversteer, and only gives a slight vibration when biting the edges of the track and the vibrators. This shyness in the effects can be surprising compared to other steering wheels that are very voluntary and spend their time bombarding us with effects, but it is ultimately more pleasant for the driving, since we are not disturbed by too much information. If you want to feel certain effects better, Thrustmaster has provided two other force feedback settings, more generous with their effects reproduction curve, designed to amplify the information provided by games or racing simulations. This is useful if you find that some of them are a little timid with the force feedback.
However, it should be noted that it is essential that the steering wheel is properly taken into account by the games/simulations. Thus, while the DiRT and DiRT Rally titles exploit the subtleties of force feedback well, this is much less the case with Gran Turismo Sport, in which the T248 only expresses itself very little and does not exploit its small screen. Nevertheless, we can hope for updates and of course a full support of the T248 in GT7.
In any case, the T248 has the good taste of not getting too hot. After 1 hour of play, we observed an internal temperature of 52°C, according to the information displayed on the steering wheel control screen. The fan in charge of evacuating the heat emits a dull noise and remains discreet enough not to disturb. The small AC adapter doesn't get too hot either.
Without upsetting the T300, TX and other high-end Thrustmaster steering wheels too much in terms of force feedback, the T248 is nevertheless a very homogeneous and attractive solution for those who don't plan to upgrade their equipment and don't want to spend more than $350. The T248 is sufficiently precise and reactive in its effects, and above all, it can count on a T3PM pedalboard that finally offers the quality that we have the right to expect from a set at this price.