Hori Mario Kart Racing Wheel Pro Deluxe review: ‘everything a karter could ask for at a great price point’
The Hori Mario Kart Racing Wheel Pro Deluxe offers everything a karter could ask for at a great price point. Of course, enthusiasts looking for a simulation wheel will need to look further up the range for something a little more premium, but with its thoughtful design and robust build quality there’s plenty here for a weekend racer.
- + Mario-inspired aesthetic
- + Excellent range of customization options
- + Good value for money overall
- + Controls allow for use in other games
- + Nice level of resistance in wheel and pedals
- – Suction cups won’t reliably hold
- – Pros will need better specs
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Despite riding that Mario Kart wave for six years, the Nintendo Switch still only has one dedicated racing wheel that will satisfy those looking for a more immersive experience. Sure, you can pick up cheap holders to make the most of Joy-Con motion controls, but if you’re after a full-sized wheel in the same vein as Logitech or Thrustmaster, the Hori Mario Kart Racing Wheel Pro Deluxe is all you’ve got. Thankfully, it’s a blast.
With everything hardcore players could ask for, and the ease of use to entice even the 50CC novices, Hori’s full wheelset can add a brand new spin to your Mario Kart 8 sessions. Between thoughtfully dedicated buttons, a surprisingly strong rotation extension, and a relatively low price, it’s one of the best Nintendo Switch accessories on the market right now.
I took the Hori Mario Kart Racing Wheel Pro Deluxe out for a spin over the course of two weeks to work out where it qualifies in the best Nintendo Switch controller starting lineup.
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|Price||$109.99 / £109.99|
|Attachment||Suction / clamp|
|Compatibility||Nintendo Switch, PC|
- Fun Mario Kart-inspired aesthetic
- Solid, durable build
- Easy set up but avoid the suction cups
Hori’s Mario Kart racing wheel is certainly more Nintendo-fied than its wider PS5, Xbox, and PC collection. Its bright red plastic and looming M logo in the center immediately slot it onto your Switch shelf. No, it’s not going to steal any aesthetic awards from the likes of more enthusiast-level brands but it’s certainly a design that appeals to its fun-loving Ninty audience. Don’t let that light-hearted exterior fool you, though, this is a well-built piece of kit. It’s a full plastic design, save for the rubberized grips on each side, though everything feels solid. I have plenty of confidence that everything from the chunkier base to the individual pedals will stand through even the most frenzied of Mario Kart sessions.
It’s a good-sized wheel as well. I never felt cramped around the diameter, though younger players will fare much better with the smaller Mini version released at the same time. The majority of buttons were still easily reachable, and I was particularly pleased with the length of the paddle shifters, which were quickly grabbable during tighter turns and panicked boosts.
There are four buttons in the center of the wheel, offering quick access to left and right thumbstick buttons as well as an option to hold an item behind you. These weren’t so easy to hit.
The item button simply isn’t in a natural position to hit quickly and precisely during a race so I largely avoided using this option in everyday play. Instead, the dedicated ZR and ZL buttons on the main wheel itself were in prime position and very much appreciated in not just Mario Kart but other racing and driving games as well.
Setup is relatively simple, with the pedals attaching directly to the wheel’s base and another 10ft USB cable tethering the device to your Switch dock. Hori’s wheel offers both clamp and suction cup attachment to the surface of your choice. Straight off the bat, I’ll tell you to ignore the suction option.
I never managed to get this thing to reliably stick on any tabletop I tried, which was disappointing – I was excited to try the wheel in my full PC setup (the desk and drawer thickness prove too much for the majority of wheels out there). The clamp keeps everything rock solid, though, and is easy to connect and secure at a range of surface thicknesses.
- Plenty of customization options available
- Excellent specs considering the price point
- Control scheme easily caters for other games
Despite its $100/£100 price tag, the Hori Mario Kart Racing Wheel Pro Deluxe still boasts a workable set of specs. That 270º rotation angle isn’t going to threaten the 900º or 1000º+ options available further up the price range, but it’s certainly more than enough for the more casual player. On Mario Kart’s tighter courses, the option of shifting things down to 180º keeps things far more precise too.
For even greater customization, there are seven levels of sensitivity to keep that acceleration and handling tight as well as an adjustable dead zone. Again, in hand, neither of these features compares to something more substantial, but they’re a gateway to far more expensive racing rigs and their availability on a budget buy is excellent to see. Further personalization comes from the full programmability of the system’s buttons.
In my testing, that translated to keeping the item hold position in different places with the ZL and left paddle on Mario Kart 8, but it also came in handy for setting the system up for Crash Team Racing and Nickelodeon Kart Racers. In fact, there’s an excellent process in place for ensuring you can use the Hori wheel with as many games as possible. A small switch on top allows you to use the wheel rotation input to mirror either the left or right thumbstick (or even the d-pad).
- Nice level of resistance for the price
- Quick to get to grips with
- Remapping buttons is quick and easy
It’s easy to discount a cheaper racing wheel based on perceived value alone, but I was surprised by the performance of the Hori Mario Kart Racing Wheel Pro Deluxe. No, there are no fancy direct-drive systems or force feedback fun here – there’s just no room in the price. However, there’s still a nice level of resistance behind each twist and turn and especially satisfying pedals. It’s difficult to find any racing wheels at $100 / £100, let alone something that actually feels fun to play with.
It only took a little getting used to when booting up Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and once I’d tinkered with a few of the deadzone and key mapping placements I was off and away. Sure, my performance wasn’t as good as it would have been with a trusty controller in hand but it was miles more fun.
Everything works as you would expect and, unlike the Hori Split Pad Pro’s implementation, I had no problems remapping buttons using the built-in Assign key. It was refreshing to plug and play as well, with only a physical setup required before launching into a round.
With the aforementioned placement of the dedicated Item button aside, I was able to make use of all inputs and extra clickers. Everything was nicely responsive and translated well in-game too.
Should you buy the Hori Mario Kart Racing Wheel Pro Deluxe?
✔ You play a range of driving and racing games
✔ You primarily play these games on Nintendo Switch
✔ You don’t need more enthusiast-level features
✔ You have plenty of storage space
✔ You’re not buying for a smaller child
The Hori Mario Kart Racing Wheel Pro Deluxe isn’t going to see you through more comprehensive driving and racing simulators, but as a neat addition to your Switch setup, it’s an excellent ride. There are painfully few racing wheels out there for $100 / £100, which makes the feature set and thoughtful design of Hori’s model all the more impressive. If you’re after a racing wheel for Nintendo Switch, Hori’s two devices are some of the only models on the market right now. I’d recommend those buying for younger children stick with the Mini version and save some cash, though kids around 8 and older will likely be able to handle the full thing.
While the Pro Deluxe is PC-compatible, serious simulators will require something with a little more guts. The Thrustmaster T248 is the best racing wheel for PC right now, but the Logitech G293 is another fan favorite as well. Both of these models will offer greater rotation degrees and a more immersive experience with force feedback technology.
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|Specs||Hori Mario Kart Pro Deluxe||Hori Mario Kart Mini|
|Price||$99.99 / £89.99||$69.99 / £54.99|
|Programming||Fully programmable||Fully programmable|
|Pedals||2, included||2, included|
|Attachment||Suction / clamp||Suction|
|Compatibility||Nintendo Switch, PC||Nintendo Switch, PC|