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 Steering Wheel P1 Rim. Do these new products take over as mid-range hardware king? Read on, and be sure to watch the above review!
In Part One, we took a look at the Fanatec CSL Elite Wheel Base, which I gave a rave review. However, as good as a base is, it is rather useless without a wheel rim. Last year, Fanatec released the Steering Wheel P1 for $140, which featured compatibility with the Xbox One. Fanatec sent me this rim along with the CSL Elite Base, so I could put it through its bases.
From the first glance, you can clearly tell the CSL Steering Wheel P1 is designed with the Xbox One in mind. The buttons are all laid out in a fashion that represents an Xbox One controller. Compared to other buttons on Fanatec wheel rims, I felt rather disappointed by the buttons. There wasn’t as much of a satisfying “click” as in the other rims. The Directional pad, while functional, is also nothing to write home about (note that you are also NOT able to use the D-Pad as a mouse, like how you can with the joystick on CSW rims). The paddle shifters have a decent throw to them, but I would also say that they are missing a satisfying “click”, that is present in other wheel rims.
The one element of the CSL Wheel Rim P1 that frustrates me the most is the quick release. Rather than utilize the all-metal ring quick release that is used on the other Fanatec wheel rims, the P1 utilizes a plastic and aluminum offering. I will give it credit; when the wheel is attached to the base, it will not budge at all. However, it is very frustrating to try to remove, requiring far more force than I particularly felt comfortable using. Also, with the amount of force required for me to remove the rim from the base, I could see potential for one of the wheel’s electrical pins snapping.
On the positive side, despite having a primarily plastic construction, the wheel did not have any creaking or cracking sounds under heavy pressure (something that can’t be said for my Thrustmaster 458 GTE rim). However, the way the quick release is constructed, I would not be surprised if there was a potential for a failure around that point, as time goes on.
Fanatec’s Clubsport Wheel rims commonly use an Alacantara or Leather wrap on their CSW rims. The CSL P1, to cut costs, decided to go with a rubber wrapped rim. This gives it a far more “cheap” feel, in my opinion. With Thrustmaster’s wheel rims offering leather and Alcantara in the similar price bracket, Fanatec’s only having rubber is a little bit of a turn-off.
When you’re driving with the rim, the light weight of the rim helps the Force Feedback be effectively communicated to your hands. Weighing only 2.57 lbs, the rim is light, but still has a relatively decent heft to it.
At the risk of sounding all Negative Nancy on you guys, I also want to share some things I DO like about the Steering Wheel P1. The shift light indicator and LED display, at first, felt a little unusual being on the top of the rim. However, it grew on me as time went on, and I think did a perfectly good job communicating info to me. I would have liked to see options to adjust the LED light for the shift light on the rim, but hopefully FanaLEDS may include support for that. (At the time of this writing, only iRacing had support for the LED lights on the wheel rim and wheel base, but I think that’s more of a thing regarding the CSL Elite drivers).
While the CSL Steering Wheel P1 feels somewhat “toy-like” compared to higher end Fanatec products, I still had an air of confidence in the wheel. While there were things that I didn’t like about the rim, the bottom line is that it is an acceptable wheel rim. Fanatec made some fairly understandable sacrifices to get this rim under $150, but at the core, it is a Fanatec wheel rim.
If you need a rim for your Clubsport or CSL Wheel Base, this is a decent option. However, if you have the extra money, I would recommend shelling out the extra money for a Universal Hub, or a higher quality CSW Wheel, if you’re looking for PC/PS3 coverage.
Part 3 of our Fanatec CSL series of reviews will be coming soon, with the Fanatec CSL Elite LC Pedals