Fanatec CSL Elite Steering Wheel WRC Review

The Fanatec is the first racing wheel to come from the new WRC x Fanatec partnership that was announced earlier in the year. And boy is it a nice looking wheel rim. In this review, I test the WRC steering wheel to find out whether it is worth buying.

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Fanatec CSL Elite Steering Wheel WRC

Our Verdict

8.2 / 10

Product Design

78

78
Gameplay

84

84
Value For Money

86

86
Compatibility
Xbox One, Xbox Series X, PS4, PS5, PC

Pros

  • Realistic size and proportions
  • Compatible with every platform
  • Thick Alcantara grip
  • Bright rev lights and LED display
  • Updated quick release

Cons

  • Paddle shifters not overly positive to use
  • Aesthetic design a little too bright & toy-like

The Design of the Fanatec CSL Elite Steering Wheel WRC

When you first set eyes on the new WRC licensed steering wheel, you may be forgiven for thinking it is a simple update to the CSL Elite P1 steering wheel. However, that isn’t the case.

Fanatec have confirmed that everything apart from the top display section has been developed completely independently of the P1 wheel rim.

And once we got it in our hands, we can confirm that this is true.

Let’s start with the wheel grip that runs almost the entire way around the wheel rim. The genuine Alcantara wheel grip is certainly chunkier in size than the grip on the CSL Elite P1 wheel. And I like this… a lot.

The wheel grip feels sturdier and we found it gave slightly more control when throwing the wheel about. Being larger it was less prone to slip through our grip, especially when throwing the wheel left and right through a rally stage.

The Alcantara itself completely covers the wheel rim, apart from the screen at the top of the wheel. And there is lovely orange stitching on the inside of the Alcantara. This pairs extremely well with the orange shifter paddles.

Fanatec WRC Wheel Design

With the tyre graphic on the front of the wheel chassis, and the black and orange color-way. This is a wheel which suits the WRC theme extremely well. Even to the point, where it would feel strange using this wheel to race GT or track cars.

Speaking of the screen at the top of the wheel, that is an exact replica to the screen that is used on the CSL Elite P1 wheel. And that isn’t a bad thing.

The screen itself can display a wide variety of information and is useful for a quick glance in between corners. It’s also bright enough that you can see it in your peripheral vision.

On the front of the wheel chassis, you’ll find the usual plethora of Xbox branded buttons (despite the fact that this wheel can also work on a PlayStation). Alongside these is a brand new joystick. this joystick allows you to flick through the menus of games easier, meaning you can do away with a controller when you’re not racing.


The quick release & paddle shifters

This Fanatec WRC steering wheel also features a newly designed quick release system.

The new quick release allows you to easily attach and detach the wheel from your wheel base by hand. You no longer require any tools to mount it.

Although if you fancy, you can always remove this quick release, and replace it with the ClubSport Quick Release Adapter.

Fanatec WRC Wheel Quick Release

Moving on to the shifters, they’re certainly hard to miss as they’re powder coated in a vibrant orange to match the stitching on the Alcantara. And on first glance, they look really nice, offsetting the black wheel nicely.

However, after testing the wheel for a while, the orange did start to grate on me a little. I would have preferred a much more subdued black shifter, but that is down to my personal preference.

When it comes to the quality of the shifters, they’re completely made from metal, giving them a nice feel. However, when you pull for a shift, the response isn’t as positive as I’d have hoped for. It certainly isn’t on the same level as the neodymium magnet shifters that you find in more premium wheels.

Despite not feeling as good as the more premium shifters, which is to be expected at this price point. They still feel positive enough, with a reasonably satisfying click when you pull a shift.

As mentioned, the paddle shifters do follow a similar design to the quick release. They’re fully detachable meaning you can switch in a different paddle set if the orange is a little too vibrant for you.

In Fanatec’s own words, this wheel is “rally inspired” and designed to make a “bold statement”. And it certainly does that. The bright orange color, and the rally graphic make this wheel stand out from other wheel rims. But this bold design choice can make it look a little cheaper than it actually feels.


What Controls are on the wheel?

On the front of the wheel itself are a variety of controls. Mainly in the form of simply buttons.

In total there are 12 programmable buttons on the face of this WRC wheel. And as standard they come in the familiar Xbox layout, with A, B, X, Y and the usual LT, LB buttons etc.

However there are also a selection of interchangeable button caps included. These allow you to change these buttons to more realistic functions such as your car’s window wipers and headlights etc.

Other than these buttons, there isn’t too much you can do with the on-wheel controls. But when you’re flying through the trees during a Finland rally stage, there isn’t much time or need to take your hand off the wheel!

Fanatec WRC Wheel Shifter


Wheel Performance – How does the wheel feel to drive with?

When playing a rally game, playing with a circular wheel is certainly the way to go. Playing with a formula or D-shaped racing wheel doesn’t give you that same amount of precision that a circular wheel can offer.

And this WRC Fanatec wheel rim is about as good as a true circular rally wheel can get.

The first thing that stands out when jumping into actually racing with the wheel is the size and feel of the grip. I mentioned this earlier, but the thicker padding and the Alcantara finish on the grip make for a rim which is very comfy to hold.

The chunky nature of the grip also allows for a good amount of precision when throwing the wheel about. And if you let go to let the wheel slide through you fingers, you can catch it with ease.

Another positive feature that we noticed more while racing is the LED center line. During a frantic rally stage, it’s always nice to know where the center line of your wheel is.

This means most rally inspired racing wheels have a marking on the top of the wheel rim itself to show where the center line is. However Fanatec have gone with a bright LED light strip.

This is a nice touch, as when racing in a darker room, I could always see exactly where the wheel center was as I was throwing the wheel about.

The LED center line light also changes color when you need to shift, which is a nice little touch.

Overall, this is a very decent and positive rally wheel to race with. For us, it is certainly an upgrade over the older CSL Elite P1 racing wheel. And it will be my rally wheel of choice for a while now.


Console Compatibility

The good news is, the Fanatec CSL Elite Steering Wheel WRC is fully compatible with all consoles, both current gen and next gen.

Straight out of the box, this wheel rim is marketed as an Xbox compatible wheel. It features an Xbox button set, and comes with Xbox branding all over the box. However, it will work with any PS4 or PS5 compatible wheel base.

Fanatec WRC Wheel Buttons

When you connect this steering wheel directly to an Xbox console via an Xbox compatible wheel base such as the Clubsport wheel base. It will instantly enter Xbox compatible mode, allowing you to play instantly without changing any other settings.

This is a nice touch, simply knowing that I can connect the steering wheel and start racing instantly.

It has also been confirmed that the Fanatec CSL Elite Steering Wheel WRC is compatible with both the Xbox Series X, and the PlayStation 5 console.


Will the Fanatec WRC wheel make rallying easier?

As mentioned above, the Fanatec CSL Elite Steering Wheel WRC does feature a thicker grip than a lot of Fanatec’s other wheel rims. This alone makes the wheel feel nicer in the hand, and I found it more comfortable to drive with than other Fanatec wheels.

This doesn’t necessarily mean it made it much easier to throw my car through a fast paced rally stage. But I did feel at times that I had slightly more control over the car due to the thicker grip.

The wheel is perfectly round which is exactly what you need for a rally ready wheel. This makes it better for rallying than say the BMW GT2 wheel which is slightly off round.


Should you buy the Fanatec WRC Steering wheel?

Let’s get straight to the point. This is a really nice sim racing wheel, but we’ve come to expect good products from Fanatec.

I would say it is certainly an improvement over wheels such as the CSL Elite P1, but slightly below the quality level of the BMW GT2. But this Fanatec CSL Elite Steering Wheel WRC is priced accordingly.

It occupies that middle ground, priced at $199. That’s a little more than the P1, yet $100 less than a BMW GT2 wheel rim. At that price, this wheel is perfectly justify-able.

Check out our BMW GT2 review to find out why it is worth $100 more than this WRC wheel.

If you are looking for a solid circular Fanatec racing wheel, this is a very good example. The aesthetics do make me want to take this wheel rim rallying more than track racing. But you could easily use this as a solid all-round wheel rim.

Technical Specifications

  • Platform – PC, Xbox, PS4 Ready
  • Quick release – ClubSport
  • Display – 3 digits LED
  • Rev lights – No
  • Weight (approx.) – 2100g
  • Diameter – 300mm
  • Vibration motors – No
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