Moza R12 Direct Drive Wheelbase review: a significant step forward

We go hands-on with Moza’s latest R12 Wheelbase, offering our opinions on how it compares to its mid-range sim racing competition.
Moza R12 Direct Drive Wheelbase review: a significant step forward

You’ve seen from the title of this article that Chinese sim racing peripheral manufacturer Moza is releasing an R12 addition to its current wheelbase line-up, in a gap slap bang in the middle of its R5, R9, R16 and R21 line-up. 

However, this gap is very important.

If you remember from my review of the Moza R21 from our test of all of their top-of-the-range equipment. I loved everything about that wheelbase, apart from the fact that you have to pay nearly £1200 for the privilege of all 21Nm of torque, most of which you’ll never use – generally, I used about 50-60% force most of the time.  

Well… 50-60% of 21Nm is between 11.5-12.5Nm   

Appropriately, the Moza R12 Direct Drive Wheelbase has entered the chat boasting, yep you guessed it, 12Nm of torque – superb. 

Out of the box, you will have noticed it looks very similar to both the R5 and R9 we reviewed previously – I’ll skip past the sections about the accompanying Pit House software, installation, design, ecosystem and the fact they’re all compatible with PC only.

Oh, actually, something we haven’t mentioned previously is the Moza phone app which lets you change your wheelbase setting on the fly, which is pretty cool!  

The only real difference with the R12 is the new Moza illuminated power supply, which is a nice little detail, and there are a few more of these that I’ll touch on later.  

Yes, let’s get straight into this base itself and why I’m so excited about it, so much so I’m considering purchasing one myself.   

Moza Racing R12 Direct Drive Wheelbase

Moza R12: details 

Before we get to the meat and potatoes, Moza sent us these products for free, however, they haven’t watched this review before it was released. For our full review policy see the link at the bottom of this article.   

On first inspection, it looks almost exactly the same size and shape as the R9 and the case components are the same. But once you look closer you will be able to find some differences.   

For example, the rear panelling is slightly deeper on the R9, with the R12 body taking up a bit more room at the rear.   

The shaft is marginally narrower on the R12. The quick release has an updated design incorporating a visual aid at the top dead centre, making lining up the wheel for connection a little easier.   

Moza Racing R12 Direct Drive Wheelbase
Left to right: the R12, R9 and R5.

Nice touches 

Also, if you already have an R9 base – as we do – Moza has added a lovely little engraving highlighted in white on both sides so you can easily tell them apart. This is a nice little addition and shows great attention to detail, as they could have just painted it on.  

It’s quite impressive that Moza has managed to squeeze over 30% more power out of this puppy with the same form factor as the R9 – with no additional noise either.  It runs as quietly as both its younger siblings too.   

The R12 is passively cooled, coping well even after prolonged use at near maximum torque during the recent UK heatwave – it only got warm to the touch.   

This is Moza’s newest wheelbase and that brings some benefits, but also means it’s incompatible with the first versions of some Moza steering wheels (namely the RS V1, GS V1, and CS V1 wheels). 

Now all this is nice to know I’m sure, but most of you don’t really care, you just want to know how it feels and what it’s like to drive. The wait is worth it, you’re in for a treat!  

Moza Racing R12 Direct Drive Wheelbase

Testing, testing, 1, 2, 3  

Let’s start with the obvious, it’s rated at 12Nm and you can feel it. It’s got more ‘oomph’ than the R9, but certainly not a match for the R21 in overall power, but we knew that.   

However, that headroom above the R9 is like finding the missing jigsaw piece that paints the full picture. 3Nm extra doesn’t sound like much, but it’s the 3 that matters most.  

Don’t get me wrong, I like the R9. Its strength is good enough for most applications; the detail is as good as any other wheel in that strength range and for the price, it’s certainly worth considering.  

However, I always wanted slightly more. I felt like the wheel force feedback started clipping just before I was at the strength I wanted.   

Moza R12 Direct Drive Wheelbase review: a significant step forward
Illuminated power display

The R12 absolutely nails this. I set it at 100% in the Pit House software, and then adjust it in game so it doesn’t clip and it’s pretty much perfect every time. For longer stints, I would probably just reduce the strength in-game slightly to save my wrists.   

All of what I’ve said so far I was expecting, what I wasn’t expecting was the additional detail I experienced compared to the R9.   

Having used the Moza’s flagship R21 extensively I’ve been used to the fine detail that it gives, and I missed that crisp feeling when I went back to the R9. The R12 on the other hand has detailed feedback comparable to the R21  

If you blindfolded me I don’t think I could immediately tell the difference.  

Moza Racing R12 Direct Drive Wheelbase

Smooth operator 

The only thing that would give it away I think, is that the R21 is completely smooth when I turn the wheel, it feels like it glides. The R12 has an ever so slight graininess to it, not like its griding or oscillating, more like I can feel the bearings turning – similar to the R9 and R5, which you’d expect from a very similar hardware design  

I wasn’t sure whether the R12’s improved feel was due to Moza’s advancements in software, or whether that extra 3Nm magnified the forces that were already present. So I asked Moza directly, and my hunch was correct!   

The R12 is the first product that Moza has released using its, and I quote “New generation force feedback filtering algorithm”. 

Whatever it is it works, I feel extremely connected to the car and have a huge level of confidence in what it’s doing. It all feels so natural.   

Moza Racing R12 Direct Drive Wheelbase

Decisions decisions… 

I regard the Thrustmaster T818 that John reviewed a few months ago as the best bang for your buck wheelbase around at the moment. Its force feedback was as good, if not better than most high-end wheelbases, and costs £600 here in the UK.   

I have been planning to buy one since I tried it, that’s how much I like it. However, this wheelbase has got me thinking. The Moza R12 is scheduled to retail at £589, conveniently just undercutting the T818. But this isn’t where my dilemma ends   

If, like me, you want to upgrade from a servo/belt driven wheelbase to the best value direct drive offering, but you also want at least 10Nm to get the most out of the direct drive experience, then you’re left with two options:  

  1. The T818 with mounting kit and the SF1000 wheel totalling £985   
  1. The R12 with KS wheel at £870 + tax totalling £1040  

That’s a tough choice. 

Moza Racing R12 Direct Drive Wheelbase
The R12 (left) versus the R9 (right)

Final thoughts 

Ultimately there are many subjective reasons why you may choose one over the other, all I can say is that Moza has stepped up its game with both the R12 and staked its claim as a real contender mid-range wheelbase market, where price and performance are finely balanced.   

The R12 not only fills the gap and completes their range of direct drive wheelbases from 5Nm up to 21Nm, but it also signifies a step forward for Moza as well, with its attention to detail and final finish Moza’s best so far. 

The force feedback feeling has taken a step forward too and is now up there with the best around, certainly in this price bracket. 

Moza Racing R12 Direct Drive Wheelbase

I am continually impressed by Moza, their constant improvements and strides forward are noticeable, and the result is excellent products that are becoming sim racing’s gold standard in terms of quality and price.  

I have just one closing remark about Moza’s R12 Wheelbase – bravo. 

The Moza R12 Wheelbase is available to purchase from the Moza website now, priced at $589 / €649 / £589 / AUD999 / JPY89900

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Full disclosure: This product was provided by the manufacturer
 for review purposes. Here is our review policy.

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