PC Racing: Much Easier With A Steering Wheel!

Thrustmaster 360 Modena

If you didn't know already, two years ago, the company Guillemot (from Breton, France) took over Thrustmaster, the American company with a solid reputation for paddle and wheel manufacture. Guillemot now markets its entire range of paddles under this name. There are three wheels for PCs, which have one thing in common: they have a Ferrari license in Europe and a Nascar license in the USA. This is a good marketing ploy that should help sell the products. And the added bonus for consumers is that they get to enjoy the logo of the prancing horse set proudly in the center of the wheel. In practice, what happens is that Thrustmaster uses Ferrari designs and Ferrari has a say in the matter. The products have certainly gained by this partnership.

The 360 Modena, named after one of the finest cars ever built, is the lowest-priced non-force wheel of the brand. But it's not tacky. It is nicely profiled and compact, so it doesn't take up a lot of storage space. It is clamped by a screw and lever system that is quite handy, though not always totally stable. The wheel looks very good. The ergonomics are excellent and your hands fall naturally into place. In addition to two buttons on the front, there are two d-pads for programming views, which is a good idea. Behind the wheel are four levers - two digital levers for changing gear and two analog for the gas and brake if you don't want to use the pedals - also a good idea. It is all solidly built and there is no play in the axis.

The pedal set is similarly built, solid with big pedals that meet the feet as they should, though just a bit too upright when at the position of rest. Travel is long and firm enough to ensure good precision.

Installation with XP is no problem, whether you use the software or not. The software, by the way, is well-designed. Thrustmaster drivers are unified and the same ones can run all products, so Microsoft has lost at home there.

The wheel behaves very well in our usual games. In Formula 1, precision is excellent, virtually equal with Microsoft and just a tad below MOMO. It's just as good for rally games, except that you have to be careful to tighten the clamps properly to prevent the wheel from sliding in the sharp turns which go with this kind of driving.

For $65, this is a self-respecting wheel, very precise and ergonomic to use. The only room for improvement is in the clamping system.