Review: Fanatec CSL Series Pt. 1 – CSL Elite Base


Fanatec is one of the top manufacturers of Sim Racing hardware, with the Clubsport Wheel being one of the top upper-midrange wheels in the market. However, with the ever-growing “sub-$500” market expanding, that gap has been rather noticeable, especially since the CSR series was put to rest last year. Now, the Fanatec CSL series of products is looking to fill the gap, with the Fanatec CSL Elite Wheel Base and Pedals, as well as the CSL P1 Rim. Do these new products take over as mid-range hardware king? Read on, and be sure to watch the above review!

Fanatec CSL Elite Wheel Base – Best Bang for the Buck

The CSL Elite Base is regarded to as the spiritual successor of the Fanatec CSR Elite base, which was officially discontinued in November of 2013. Both feature compatibility for the Xbox and the PC, with the CSR-E supporting the Xbox 360, and the CSL-E supporting the Xbox One.

CSL stands for “Clubsport Light”, offering Clubsport level performance, at a significantly lower price tag. This wheel base does a great job embodying that statement. The CSL Elite, at over 6NM of torque, produces slightly more torque than the Fanatec Clubsport Wheel V1 (which produces 5.2NM of torque). However, it is slightly less than the CSW V2, which produces 7NM. However, it’s the Brushless motor that can bring significant improvement to the Force Feedback feel. With less resistance in the motor, the CSL Elite’s Force Feedback will definitely outclass the CSW V1.

Fanatec CSL Elite Base
I’m not a huge fan of the design mixmatch of the wheel, but some may like it better.

While the CSR Elite featured a full metal construction, the CSL Elite Wheel Base is predominantly plastic construction. The carbon fiber look on the side goes well with the two-tone look on the top of the wheel, but the design on the front fascia of the wheel feels somewhat out of place. I would have preferred a different design on the front of the wheel, or even an option to change the front’s design, but it’s not a deal breaker.

As they say, it’s on the inside that counts, and Boy, does that ring true here! This is one of the best feeling sub-$500 wheel bases I have used! I have had experience with the Fanatec CSR Elite, CSR, CSW V1/V2, as well as all of the belt-driven Thrustmaster wheels. This wheel was one of the strongest, and smoothest that I have used in a sub $400 wheel. Comparing with the Thrustmaster TX, I feel there is no competition for the top Sub-$500 Xbox One racing wheel.

One other feature I really appreciate is the compatibility with the full line of Clubsport Line hardware. The CSR Elite racing wheel featured a limited Quick Release system, supporting only two rims. Now, the Fanatec CSL Elite base features the same QR system as the Clubsport Wheels. That means EVERY wheel rim will work on the CSL Elite base, including the Universal Hubs. The CSL Elite Base also features support for all add-ons, including the Clubsport Shifter, Handbrake, and Pedals.

CSL Elite Base Rear
The rear of the CSL Elite base features all the RJ11 jacks you will need

I do have a few gripes with the base though:

  • This wheel base has NO support for the Playstation 4. That is quite a disappointment, as there are getting to be more and more titles available for the Playstation 4. Fanatec has come out and said there would NOT be an upgrade available to bring the CSL Elite to support the PS4, but they are working on PS4 support for other Fanatec hardware.
  • Compared to the Fanatec CSW and CSR Elite, the base feels somewhat toy-like. The front design doesn’t match up well with the top and sides, making it feel a little gaudy in my opinion.
  • When you boot up the wheel, it automatically kicks into Xbox One mode (when the CSL P1 rim is connected). I don’t know if that is about the rim or the base, but a quick button press solves it. However, if you forget about it and launch into a title, I could see it being somewhat irritating.

In conclusion, I will say that the Fanatec Clubsport Elite Wheel Base is the best bang for the buck for a sub-$400 wheel base. While there are some minor gripes I have with the wheel, it is a great piece of equipment, and I wholeheartedly recommend it.

Tune in later for Part Two, where I cover the Fanatec CSL P1 Racing Rim, and Part Three, where I take a look at the Fanatec CSL Elite LC Pedals. When I have Parts Two and Three available, I will provide links here as well.

Final Score
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William was introduced to sim racing at the age of 6 with NASCAR Racing 1999 Edition. Since then, he has been hooked, burning the virtual rubber in a wide variety of racing games. Current Favorite Sims: rFactor 2 and Game Stock Car Extreme. Guilty Pleasure Title: Burnout Paradise