At the Simracing Expo 2022, you could already take a first look at the new steering wheels from Ascher Racing, which have been developed in collaboration with McLaren. Now the time has finally come and the first models in the series are making their debut on the market. We took a look at the McLaren Artura Pro steering wheel in its Simucube version and tested it.
Ordering and shipping
The steering wheel can be purchased directly from the Ascher Racing shop in Germany, where it is currently available for €1,169 plus shipping. In addition, a Quick Release is required for operation on a Simucube 2 Wheelbase.
The product tested here was provided by the manufacturer. No influence was exerted on this review at any time.
Scope of delivery
The scope of delivery of the steering wheel is very generous. In addition to the steering wheel itself and a USB-C cable, additional tools, stickers and, above all, button caps are included in the scope of delivery:
- Artura PRO-SC steering wheel
- USB-C to USB-A charging cable
- Screws and washers for Quick Release mounting
- Additional button caps with various symbols
- Tools to swap button caps:
- 2 x button cap removing tool
- Allen key: 1.5mm
- Torx key: TX8
- Label sheet
At the time of testing, the scope of delivery had not yet been finalised, so no photo was included in this review.
There are two things to distinguish when it comes to the compatibility of the wheel. On the software side, the Simucube version of the steering wheel can only be operated with a corresponding base (Simucube 2 Sport, Pro, Ultimate). Communication takes place wirelessly directly between the base and the steering wheel. If you want to operate it wirelessly, i.e. with a different wheel base, you also need a separate Simucube base.
On the hardware side, the steering wheel is equipped with the standard bolt circle (6 x 70 mm) on the back, whereby three of the holes are threaded. This makes it possible to either screw the QRs directly from the outside or to remove the back of the steering wheel and fasten the QR from the inside. Suitable M5 bolts and washers are supplied by Ascher Racing. With the classic SC2 QR, for example, installation is completed in just a few seconds.
This simple mounting solution is particularly interesting for the USB version of the steering wheel announced for Q2 / 2024. For example, the steering wheel can be easily mounted on a Podium hub or most other QR systems.
The steering wheel is equipped with the following function buttons:
- 14 x RGB buttons: The buttons are visually the biggest change to the previous Ascher steering wheels. They are equipped with interchangeable button caps and have a pleasant, very tactile pressure point. They are also very evenly illuminated, with the respective symbols being realised with button caps.
- 4 x thumb encoder: There are two encoders on each side of the steering wheel within direct reach of the thumb. They can therefore also be operated while driving without having to take your hand off the steering wheel. The metal rotary knobs have a relatively hard rasterised design so that the individual positions can be switched precisely.
- 2 x multifunctional 7-way joysticks: The two “funky switches” (left, right, up, down, turn left, turn right, click) are also within easy reach and can be easily reached with the thumb. The metal cap is equipped with a small recess so that the funky switches can also be operated very easily.
- 2 x 12-position rotary switches: The two 12-position rotary switches are also made of metal and have a relatively high activation force. Thanks to their shape, they are very comfortable and precise to operate, both with and without gloves.
Numerous settings can be made directly on the steering wheel using various controls on the back:
- ON – OFF: Unsurprisingly, you can switch the entire steering wheel on and off here.
- 12-position rotary shift: These can each be used via a switch on the corresponding side of the steering wheel (rear) either as a normal switch with 12 positions or as a modifier for the lower thumb encoder located on the same side. This allows 12 different values (e.g. 1 – TC, 2 – ABS, 3 – Motor Map, …) to be changed depending on the switch position if the encoders are configured accordingly in the simulation.
- LED on – off: The button lighting can be switched on or off here.
- LED adjust on – off: When this option is activated, two normal steering wheel buttons (+, – in the default configuration) become control buttons for the RGB lighting of the buttons. The brightness can be increased or decreased with a short click, and a long click can be used to switch between different colour profiles.
- Bite Point adjust: The maximum output of the slave clutch paddle can be changed by pressing the right-hand radio button for more than one second. Each turn of the left radio changes the value by a full percent, each turn of the right radio changes the value by 0.1%. In this way, it is very easy to find the correct value for the clutch slip point while sitting in the virtual vehicle.
- Simucube Button: The left-hand Funky functions as a Simucube button, which is also activated after one second of pressing. By pressing up (Overall Strength), left (Damping) or right (Simucube Force Reconstruction Filter), a parameter can be selected and increased or decreased by turning the Funky.
There are very detailed illustrated instructions for the individual setting options (some of the graphics can be found in this review), which should leave no questions unanswered.
Software / Simhub
In addition to the settings directly on the steering wheel, various adjustments can be made via the Simucube True Drive software and Simhub.
- Simucube True Drive: Here you can check the function of the individual buttons, define the dead zones of the analogue paddle and assign the axes. The current charge status of the battery can also be checked here.
- Simhub: Colour profiles for the RGB lighting of the buttons can be defined and freely adjusted here. To do this, the steering wheel is connected to the USB-C cable and the changes can then be made via Simhub. There are currently no options for transmitting telemetry data, so the lighting is static.
Shifter / dual clutch
The rear of the steering wheel is dominated by a total of four paddle shifters and the dual clutch. The shift paddles (now in their sixth generation) are made entirely of metal and, in contrast to the previous versions from Ascher, are now damped and therefore significantly quieter than before. The magnetic shifters, which rely on Hall sensors to recognise actuation, are convincing as usual and, thanks to the absolutely solid construction, there is no need to worry about flex.
The two analogue axes are controlled via the two paddles on the bottom. These offer relatively little resistance through a spring and can therefore be easily operated with one finger each. The position of the two paddles can each be adjusted inwards by around half a centimetre.
As with the manufacturer’s previous steering wheels, Ascher Racing relies entirely on metal. Both the front plate and the housing of the steering wheel are made entirely of anodised aluminium (the front plate is also brushed) and are therefore also extremely solid. Although this results in a relatively high weight (approx. 1540g without QR), it also gives the steering wheel a very high-quality impression, which is further emphasised by the excellent quality of workmanship.
The grips of the Artura Pro are made of relatively soft rubber and are therefore ideal for use with or without gloves.
As the illuminated buttons are equipped with their own button caps and the labelling of the lower rotary knobs has been lasered, the steering wheel can therefore be used completely without stickers. However, the thumb encoders can be additionally labelled with the enclosed sticker sheet if required. To change the caps, the button guards must be removed, for which the Funky must first be taken off. Although the caps can then be replaced in a few seconds using the two tools provided, you should still plan some time for the entire process.
Due to its use in the Simucube ecosystem, the steering wheel cannot be supplied with power via the wheelbase. Ascher Racing therefore relies on an integrated rechargeable battery, which should ensure the operation of the steering wheel for 15 – 30 hours (with lighting) or 800 hours (without lighting). If the battery reaches a voltage of 3.35 volts, the steering wheel issues a warning in the form of a flashing LED and the steering wheel can still be used for over 30 hours without lighting before the minimum battery voltage of 3.0 volts is reached. In order to always be able to end the session in case of doubt, there is an emergency switch-off of the button lighting so that the basic functions (wireless connection and buttons) are retained long enough in any case.
The battery can be charged using the USB-C cable supplied, with Ascher specifying a duration of 6 to 7 hours for a full charge. As the connection on the steering wheel is designed as a normal USB port, charging should not be carried out while driving to avoid damage.
Video and driving impression
Although the steering wheel was not completely unknown due to a few test drives at various events, after just a few metres you get the feeling that you’ve owned it forever. The excellent ergonomics thanks to the good positioning of the buttons and, above all, the encoders and funky buttons in combination with the very good rubber grips mean that the steering wheel scores highly in terms of driving comfort. The wireless transmission of the functions also caused no interference during the 20-hour test drive and always worked perfectly.
Ascher Racing gets a lot of things right with the McLaren Artura Pro steering wheel. The steering wheel combines high-quality materials with good workmanship, an incredible number of functions and more than good ergonomics as well as excellent magnetic paddle shifters and a dual clutch. The only drawback of the wireless version is the (very long-lasting) battery operation and the lack of interactive illumination of the RGB buttons using telemetry data via Simhub. On the other hand, the Artura Pro Steering Wheel is probably the most attractive Formula/GT-style steering wheel currently available that is directly compatible with the SImucube ecosystem.
Overall, the steering wheel is therefore a clear recommendation to buy despite its rather high price and is ideal for use on a Simucube base. For everyone else, the USB version announced for Q2 2024 should be a particularly interesting option. This will additionally offer full telemetry support via Simhub.
- Amount / quality of functions
- Magnetic paddle shifters and double clutch
- Scope of delivery
- Settings directly on the steering wheel
- Wireless data transmission on a Simucube base
- Buttons statically illuminated
- Operation only possible via rechargeable battery
- Only compatible with Wheelbase from Simucube