At last month’s Paris Motor Show, car maker Citroen (not widely known for GT sports cars) debuted the stunning “GTbyCitroen,“ featuring dramatic aerodynamics and powered by an advanced hydrogen fuel-cell. However, this concept car is far more than just a sculpture – this is a car you can own and drive today – that is, if you have a PlayStation 3, Gran Turismo 5 Prologue, and the latest Driving Force GT racing wheel by Logitech.
Because of the sheer accuracy of the physics model that Polyphony Digital and Logitech’s engineers have put into the GT5 game and its matching force-feedback mechanism, you can actually experience how it feels to drive the GTbyCitroen. The game accurately models how the torque and power curves are delivered to the road, and how the spring and damper rates translate into its handling dynamics on the streets of London or though Laguna Seca’s famous Corkscrew. And what’s more, you can then (virtually) step out of the Citroen and into a Lotus Evora or a Ferrari 599 Fiorano for a back-to-back comparison of these dream cars.
Kazunori Yamauchi, the charismatic genius and studio head who created the game, has been a long term collaborator in the design of our racing wheels. Earlier this year, I was lucky enough to spend some time with him in Tokyo during a promotional shoot for GT-TV. Kazunori turned up for our meeting in his (then) brand-new red Nissan GTR, the model of which you can see being driven in that movie. Incidentally, in another case of life imitating art, he also designed the instrument display in the real GTR. No wonder Motor Trend has said he is more influential in the car industry than the CEOs of Honda or Ford.
And on the subject of Nissan, the much awaited new 370Z is due to be unveiled at the LA Motor Show this week. However, if you have a Wii and you want to drive it while you await delivery, just pick up a copy of Need for Speed Undercover – the 370Z already in there waiting for you, motor running.
As you must have realized, I’m a self confessed car-junkie (or “Petrol-head” as us Brits would endearingly say), so amongst all the current woes of the automotive industry, it is exciting to see the growing convergence of car-culture with possibly the most influential strand of modern pop-culture, video gaming. And it gives me an immense amount of personal satisfaction to see how we’ve played our part – through our passion for improving the simulation accuracy of Force Feedback over the many years.