Thrustmaster Ferrari F430 Wheel Review
Getting behind the wheel of a Ferrari F430 is a special experience. Plush leather upholstery, a high-revving V8 howling behind you as you go faster and faster, scything through the turns thanks to the razer-sharp chassis. Sadly, for most of us the closest we’ll get to driving a F430 is through the screens of our PC or games console, but the Thrustmaster Ferrari F430 PC Steering Wheel hopes to give you some of that feeling – minus the noise, accelerative forces and smell of leather.
What’s in the box?
The Thrustmaster F430 wheel is a faithful recreation of the genuine Ferrari item, and even includes the Manettino switch that would normally control the F430’s traction control systems – more on this in a minute. You also get a set of pedals that includes accelerator and brake. The pedals are made of metal and the base is weighted for extra stability, which also helps to reduce any movements across the floor.
Unfortunately there’s no Italian leather to hold onto as the wheel itself is coated in rubber, but with an 11-inch diameter it is chunky and comfortable to hold. Behind the wheel are two metal paddles, obviously allowing you to control gear changes. In addition there are ten buttons (6 on the front, two behind the wheel and two on the base) and the bright red Engine Start button acts as an eight-way D-pad.
So is it any good?
The Thrustmaster Ferrari F430 immediately feels like it’s built to last as it’s solidly constructed and well screwed together. The buttons on the wheel all have a solid click action to them, and don’t feel too flimsy or lightweight. The pedals in particular feel great, with the right amount of tension in the springs that makes it much easier to measure out the throttle input in the middle of a corner.
The wheel is comfortable with an ergonomic shape that fits your grip almost perfectly, the thumb settling into the curves of the wheel. The gear paddles are also very well situated and are easy to reach with your fingers. The force feedback works extremely well, with a smooth action that makes it easy to release lock. The center position is very nicely judged, with none of the oscillation that affects some lesser wheels.
The clever little Manettino switch has five settings plus a push button that allows you to change the level of driver assistance or fine tune things like traction control and rear axle differentials. Want to stiffen your suspension? Just turn the dial to the left. Need to increase the amount of traction control ? Just flick it to the right. Drivers are included on a CD and come with pre-configured profiles for some games, while the software allows the buttons to be reprogrammed to your own preference.
Finally the clamping mechanism is strong, and with a metal bolt and plate it really will grip onto the surface of your desk.
Anything wrong with it?
There’s very little to criticise about the Thrustmaster Ferrari F430 wheel. The biggest criticism is the turn angle, with just 270 degrees from lock to lock. For serious sim use you would expect a wheel to have 900 degrees of lock, as you’ll find on the Logitech G25. While that might look sound bad for the F430 wheel, in reality you should get away with it in most driving sims and not all players want much more than 270 degrees.
The lack of a clutch pedal will also upset some serious racers, but I would expect most gamers to be happy with just the brake and accelerator.
How much do I have to pay?
Thrustmaster are asking $160 or £100 as the RRP for the F430 wheel. This is quite steep for a mid-range wheel, but it is significantly cheaper than the $299 Logitech G25. While part of the retail price will no doubt be going to Ferrari for the privilege of putting their name on the wheel, the quality of the Thrustmaster Ferrari F430 does stop you feeling like you’ve been ripped off.
The Thrustmaster Ferrari F430 wheel is one of those rare things – a branded peripheral that’s actually quite good. While the link to Ferrari is tenuous at best, the resulting wheel is great to use for all but the most realistic driving sims. If you don’t mind the cost, this is a pc steering wheel that you will enjoy owning.