The CSL P1 V2 sim racing wheel from Fanatec is the brand’s cheapest rim on offer. There are a few variations of it available too, but just how good a deal is the base version?
In this review, I’ll go through the pros and cons of the CSL P1 V2 wheel so you can decide if it’s the right budget wheel rim for your setup. At the end, I’ll suggest a few alternatives as well.
Note: Just to reiterate, this review is of the base CSL P1 V2 wheel rim, but the BMW and WRC branded rims are pretty much the same anyway (although the WRC one has an Alcantara finish). More on them later.
Pros & Cons Of The CSL P1 V2 Sim Racing Wheel
|Very budget friendly||It is a very basic wheel|
|Simple aesthetic and overall design||It lacks any switches and rotary encoders|
|Ideal for pretty much any racing discipline||The shifters aren’t magnetic|
|Has a decent level of functionality for the price|
|It has a (small) screen for telemetry and accessing Fanatec’s tuning menu|
My Thoughts On The Design Of The Fanatec CSL P1 V2
The design of the CSL P1 is very simple. It’s just a 300 mm round wheel with some buttons on the front and paddles on the back. What more could you want from a sub $150 wheel rim?
An Important Note
That’s an important thing to bear in mind throughout this review – it’s a budget wheel rim. It’s one of the cheapest standalone wheel rims (with buttons and shifters attached) on the market, never mind just in the Fanatec ecosystem.
I’ll go into more detail about who this wheel is for later, but just remember as you read this that I’m looking at this wheel from the point of view of someone on a budget. This is not a premium sim racing wheel!
With that out of the way, let’s get back to the design. The rim itself is partly covered in rubber (where your hands will be most of the time), which is going to be a point of contention for some, but I think it works well here. You’re not going to get an Alcantara rim plus all the functionality at this price point, and I think the rubber feels good enough all things considered.
Note: The sections that are not rubberized are made of hard plastic instead
I will say it doesn’t feel quite as good as that of the CSL Elite McLaren GT3 V2 wheel though, but that’s a different beast. I don’t find my hands get too sweaty with this rim’s rubberized finish, but that will vary from person to person. It could be a wise idea to wear gloves with this rim, but it’s not going to be a must.
False Carbon Fiber
It’s durable too, so it’ll last a long time without showing much or any wear (unlike Alcantara if you don’t wear gloves). The facing of the wheel looks like carbon fiber, but sadly it’s fake, just like it is on the McLaren wheel. I stated in our full McLaren GT3 V2 review that I’m not a fan of the use of fake carbon fiber, but it doesn’t detract from the look of the wheel.
I just don’t think it’s necessary. Fanatec have fooled some people into thinking it’s real though, but once you have it in your hands it’s abundantly clear it’s plastic with a carbon weave pattern on it.
It Keeps It Cheap
Fanatec chose to go the plastic route versus the aluminum used on the original P1 wheel to cut costs, and that’s definitely done the trick. However, a plastic wheel face will deter a lot of buyers, and while I don’t notice any flex or otherwise hindrance from the plastic design, I’d rather it cost a bit more to have the metal facing instead.
One important thing to note is that, because it’s made of plastic, you can’t use this wheel rim with a Podium wheel base in high torque mode, even if you upgrade to the ClubSport adapter quick release. I’m not sure many with those expensive wheel bases would want to use an entry level wheel like this with it anyway, but it’s worth noting.
Note: You can use it with the CSL DD and GT DD Pro wheel bases though (and any other Fanatec wheel bases) up to 8 Nm.
Going back to the quick release, you get Fanatec’s tool-free QR1 Lite quick release with this wheel rim as standard. It’s also made of plastic, but it’s strong enough to withstand the 8 Nm of max torque of the CSL DD and GT DD Pro wheel bases. It’s also really easy to remove and attach the wheel rim, which is a big plus.
Buttons & Other Features
On the front of the wheel rim, you get a total of 13 buttons (even though Fanatec’s website says there are 12), meaning you have lots of mappable inputs. You also get a 5-way switch (sadly not a full on funky switch), and that does it on the input side on the front of the rim.
You get a small RevStripe on the top of the rim, which lights up from yellow to red then blue as a shift indicator. This is integrated with the 3-digit LED screen that can display basic telemetry data, and you can use it to access the Fanatec tuning menu as well.
Shifter Paddles & Compatibility
On the back, you get two metal gear shifter paddles that aren’t quite full size. Personally I’d prefer them to be a bit bigger, but it’s definitely going to be enough for most people. They’re not magnetic, and instead work with a snap dome button system – more on that in the performance section of this review.
The 300 mm diameter of this round wheel rim means it’s suitable for pretty much any racing discipline. You’ll be able to drift, rally race, take on GT racing, and even do formula racing too. Obviously the F1 games will be better with a rectangular formula style rim, but the shape and size of this rim does make it a great choice for beginners and those that just need a cheap and cheerful but highly versatile wheel.
A final note on design is that this rim is not compatible with Xbox consoles, and it will only work on PS4/PS5 if you have a compatible Fanatec wheel base. Overall, I’d give the simple design an 8 out of 10 because, all things considered, it does a very good job as a budget wheel rim.
What About The Build Quality Of The Rim?
I’ve already alluded to a lot of the build quality in the previous section, but it’s worth elaborating on how it feels to use in that respect. While it is heavily plastic, it feels robust enough. Your hands are on the rubber for the most part, so you won’t even notice that it’s not real carbon fiber or metal on the face plate.
Note: It looks like only the current version of the P1 V2 wheel rim has the rubberized section at the hand grips and the top and bottom portions of the wheel are a hard plastic. But I have seen some versions of the wheel that have this plastic all the way round, so be wary of this if you’re planning to pick it up second-hand.
The rubber feels very durable, and in the time I’ve used it there hasn’t been any noticeable wear on the rim. It’s clearly not low quality rubber or plastic, which you wouldn’t expect Fanatec to use anyway.
The Back Of The Wheel
The shifters on the back are made of metal, which is again to be expected. They feel durable of course, but they don’t need to take too much of a beating anyway. The quick release is also solid, being made of what I assume is some sort of glass/fiber injected plastic.
While you can’t use this rim with the Podium wheel bases in high torque mode, it can still handle up to 8 Nm of torque from the CSL DD and the Gt DD Pro, so it’s definitely not a weak point. There is no real point investing in the metal ClubSport adapter for this rim as even that won’t allow high torque mode on the DD1 and DD2.
While it will feel sturdier and be a bit faster to attach and remove from your wheel base, you won’t get any torque benefit from it. Overall, I’d give the build quality a 7 out of 10. It’s got a lot of plastic, but it still feels super durable.
How The CSL P1 V2 Wheel Performs
Now on to the performance of the CSL P1 V2 wheel, and it does feel good to use. It’s not going to feel like a premium wheel of course, but that’s because it isn’t one. As a budget rim, it ticks all the necessary boxes in my opinion.
It’s comfortable, both in terms of its shape and size and in the feel of the rubber. I don’t use gloves with it, and even during long races I find sweaty palms to be very manageable with this rim. I use this rim in particular mostly for rally racing and drifting, although I have used it plenty for GT racing and even some F1 too.
It’s A Versatile Wheel
I still have my Thrustmaster T300 RS, and that was one of the first decent racing wheels I ever owned. But that’s all I had so I would use it for everything from drifting in arcade titles to driving Formula 1 cars in the Codemasters games.
This means I’m no stranger to using an ill-fitting wheel rim for something like formula racing! The P1 will serve you fine until you can afford to pick up a dedicated formula style wheel. For all other motorsport disciplines it feels good to use.
Functionality & Feel
You get a decent number of buttons (13), and these will be enough for many racers. However, the lack of any rotaries or switches is a shame, but this is an entry level wheel, so it’s to be expected, and most people buying this won’t need much in the way of inputs.
However, the buttons do feel quite squishy, very similar to those of a controller. It’s manageable, but definitely not all that satisfying. The same goes for the shifters. The snap dome mechanism means they’re better than many of Thrustmaster’s options (including those on my T300 RS).
They’re more than adequate for a beginner or even a seasoned magnetic shifter user that needs a cheap round wheel for their rig. But they’re definitely nowhere near magnetic shifters in terms of tactile feel. But if this is your first wheel, you won’t know that, and magnetic shifters are a joy that awaits you later down the line!
Accessing The Tuning Menu
The almost-funky switch (it lacks rotary functionality) does give a satisfying click when you press it in either of the 4 directions or when you press it down. This is nice, and it makes working through the Fanatec tuning menu really easy and not a chore at all. You can see what you’re doing on the small screen at the top of the wheel, and it’s surprisingly clear given the size of it.
Overall, I give the performance of this wheel a 7 out of 10. If you’re looking for a cheap but functional wheel, it does the job. The squishy buttons and shifters let it down somewhat, and obviously it’s not a high-quality rim by many standards, but it does what you need it to do.
Is The Fanatec CSL P1 V2 Good Value For Money?
I think the Fanatec CSL P1 V2 wheel is good value for money, as it’s one of the cheapest rims on the market that can still do lots of what a premium rim can do. It has plenty of buttons, a small screen for telemetry, and metal shifters on the back. That’s more than you’ll get from a lot of competitors at higher price points.
It feels comfortable to use and it’s clearly a durable piece of kit. It’s important to understand what you should expect when picking this wheel up of course, but if you’re looking for a good budget wheel, a good budget wheel is what you get with the P1 V2. I give it a 9 out of 10 for value for money.
Should You Buy The CSL P1 V2 Wheel?
The people I think should consider buying the CSL P1 V2 wheel include:
- Anyone looking for a budget wheel rim (that has a decent amount of functionality)
- Sim racers looking for a cheap rally/drift option (although the WRC version may be more suitable – see the alternatives section below)
- Absolute beginner sim racers in need of their first sim racing wheel
People who shouldn’t buy the P1 V2 include:
- Those looking for a premium wheel (this isn’t one)
- Anyone that puts a lot of importance on button and/or shifter feel
- Sim racers that want a screen and lots of dials/rotaries/switches
Fanatec CSL P1 V2 Wheel Specs
|Weight||1.2 kg / 2.6 lbs|
|Buttons||13 push buttons, 1 x 5-way stick|
|Materials||Plastic faceplate / metal shifter paddles|
|Compatibility||PC / PlayStation|
Fanatec CSL P1 V1 vs V2
A lot of v’s in that title! Let’s now quickly compare the old version of the wheel rim to the new one.
Fake Carbon vs Aluminum
The V1 version of this wheel had an aluminum face plate, but this one is plastic with a false carbon fiber finish.
Number Of Buttons
The V1 wheel had 12 buttons, while the V2 has 13. That might be why Fanatec’s website says the V2 has 12!
No Quick Release On The V1
The V1 didn’t come with a quick release, but the V2 comes with the QR1 Lite.
The V1 Was More Compatible
The V1 also worked on Xbox, whereas the V2 wheel does not.
Alternatives To The Fanatec CSL P1 V2
Fanatec CSL Steering Wheel BMW
The CSL BMW wheel is pretty much identical to the P1 V2, albeit with a BMW badge on the front, a different color scheme, and a different grip pattern on the rubber. This is only worth going for if you think the BMW branding and different overall look is worth the extra $20 or so.
Fanatec CSL Steering Wheel WRC
Another very similar wheel rim is the WRC edition of the CSL P1. It’s a fair bit more expensive, on par with the McLaren GT3 wheel mentioned below. However, it features a brushed aluminum face plate and an Alcantara rim, which explains the price hike.
It also has an extra button on the front (the Xbox logo) as it is compatible with Xbox consoles. You can also easily remove the shifter paddles on this rim if you don’t need them, which you can’t on the P1 or the BMW rim (as you likely wouldn’t need to with those anyway). This is a good option for rally fans of course, but also Xbox racers in general.
Fanatec CSL Elite McLaren GT3 V2 Wheel
Finally, we have the McLaren GT3 V2 rim. This is a bit pricier than the P1 V2, but it makes up for that price increase in improved functionality. You get some extra switches, a few rotary encoders, an OLED screen, magnetic paddle shifter in a rocker style, and dual analog clutch paddles.
It’s obviously a good choice for McLaren fans, but it’s also ideal for GT and formula racers due to its shape (it won’t be suitable for drifting and rally racing). It’s also compatible with high torque mode on the Podium wheel bases if you have the ClubSport adapter, and it’ll work on PC, PlayStation (with a PS compatible Fanatec base), and Xbox too.
The CSL P1 V2 sim racing wheel from Fanatec is a great budget option for those in need of a round wheel rim, and it would serve well for a beginner’s first sim racing wheel too. It’s highly functional and comfortable to use, especially considering the low price.
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