Let's start by saying these driving impressions, deductions and reactions are based on a few hours driving the car in "Gran Turismo 6," and therefore apply only to the car in the game. Still, we were able to garner a good bit of information about the FT-1 concept, which debuted at the Detroit auto show this week.
First, the car was only available in the front-engine, rear-wheel-drive events -- and turbo events -- so that gives us an idea of the hypothetical powertrain setup. The FT-1 (future Toyota) featured a six-speed close-ratio manual transmission and a near-perfect weight balance of 51:49. It redlines at 8,000 rpm and has a final gear ratio of 3.417. If we had to guess at an engine, it would be of the I6 variety. A V8 rumble would definitely have been noticeable.
We paid a cool (virtual) $500,000 for the car. Then we read the info from Toyota, which clearly states that all you need to do is update the game -- more on that later -- and get a bronze or better in the special seasonal event at Laguna Seca and the car will be yours, gratis. It would concern us more, if not for that special glitch noted in our "GT6" game review, which allows players to get near unlimited money.
About that new update: We tried it twice at home. It shut down our PlayStation 3 system both times. We found out online that you have to press OK to update within two seconds of the screen coming up or it will force-quit the system. We're not sure why, and we assume it'll be fixed within a few days, if not today.
Anyway, calculating the output of the FT-1's engine was a little more difficult. The horsepower field was left blank for the concept, but when we sorted our garage by power, the FT slotted in just above the Ferrari F40, leading us to believe that it's making about 485 hp. (New reports say that an oil change will bump it up to 518 hp.) But when sorted by PP, performance points, it slotted a lot higher on the list, just below the Lexus LFA. As for curb weight, it should be around 2,900 pounds.
Our first event was at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan. In this particular contest, we were up against some pretty solid competition, including some older Skylines, a new Nissan GT-R Black Series and the lightning-fast LFA.
The FT-1 was quick to build speed, even with slight lag from the turbocharger. Once you're at cruising speed, it gets even faster. We dropped the traction control down to level two, out of 10, allowing us to send the back end out on demand -- maybe too often, but it was correctable with some quick wheelwork. It did offer a high degree of confidence around faster sweepers, which only gave us more reason to juice the throttle and try to control the slide.
When we were too hard on the brakes, the FT-1 plowed forward; it comes with “sports” tires only, no racing slicks. Dabbing the pedal is key; stomping seems to do no good.
We worked our way from 12th place to third place. We had just cleared a corner when we saw a McLaren F1 heading off into the distance. We came out in second gear and click, click, clicked through the paddles. We began to reel him in. A few more corners and we made the pass.
We can't, we won't say that the FT-1 can reel in an F1. It just doesn't make sense. We suppose it could have been our stellar driving skills, but that argument is still up for debate. With one lap to go, we also caught, diced with and passed the leading driver in an LFA.
So the car performs well in "GT6," and we got our first look of the futuristic interior of the car, which was almost too wild for anyone who isn't a robot.
For starters, there is a head-up display centered in front of the driver on the dash. It features a digital speed readout and a hexagonal tach. The problem is that it's literally right in the center of your vision. It's a little distracting when aiming for an apex at 135 mph. And, for the record, we got the FT-1 up to about 175 on the long straight; it doesn't seem to have much more than that.
The top center of the steering wheel has three readouts: one for mode, one for the gear and one for the tach. I'll admit, I do like having the gear notation right in front of my face. The virtual car also displayed the track map in the dash, which would probably be helpful on a real track.
We took on a few more races after that: Laguna Seca, the 'Ring, and a few others. We found the car to be predictable during change of direction but not as much at the limit. The concept mirrors weren't of much use either; they were a bit too narrow for the virtual world.
The FT-1 now joins the Corvette Stingray, BMW M4, Acura NSX and others that debuted in the PS3 simulator, and we love it. To be able to get a sense of the car's weight, handling, and interior, months or even years before it goes on sale is just a bonus for us. We'd like to request the Jaguar F-Type Coupe, Corvette Z06 and the Lamborghini Huracán please; we'll be waiting at our TVs.
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