These Are the Best and Worst Vision Gran Turismo Concept Cars

These Are the Best and Worst Vision Gran Turismo Concept Cars

Since 2014, Gran Turismo has asked the world's top automakers to produce their ideal enthusiast car for the game. These are the standouts.

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Rear quarter view of Ferrari Vision Gran Turismo
Image: Ferrari

The Vision Gran Turismo initiative started almost a decade ago, and in that time it’s given the gaming series about 30 concepts, wildly ranging in size, shape and performance. Franchise producer Kazunori Yamauchi asked automakers to create their ideal vision of a “sporty coupe” just for the game, and to this day companies continue to honor the request. Ferrari, for example, just introduced its Vision Gran Turismo last weekend. Some Vision GT concepts have inspired or influenced the development of actual sports cars, while others have even been built into running prototypes.

With such a vast catalog of unique designs amassed over the years, we thought now would be a great time to recognize our favorite and least favorite Vision GT creations. The ones that excite us, and the ones that balked at the opportunity given. Let’s take it away.

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Best: Honda Sports Vision Gran Turismo

Best: Honda Sports Vision Gran Turismo

Side view of Honda Vision Gran Turismo
Image: Sony Interactive Entertainment

The best Vision GT pitches are like the best concept cars: just imaginative enough to be concepts, but not so pie-in-the-sky that the entirety of the effort loses all meaning and comes off excessively conceited. This is why the Honda Sports Vision Gran Turismo is the best the initiative has produced thus far. It’s realistic, and the proposition of a “baby NSX” is too enticing to ignore; however, the deep nose and wheels pushed to the absolute corners ensure that a production-intent version could never look quite this good. Speaking of which, the fact the design is drop-dead gorgeous helps plenty — from the short wheelbase to the perfectly angled side intake and exquisitely shaped heckblende. It’s the midrange Honda sports car the world deserves.

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Worst: Subaru Viziv GT Vision Gran Turismo

Worst: Subaru Viziv GT Vision Gran Turismo

Front quarter view of Subaru Vision Gran Turismo
Image: Sony Interactive Entertainment

Look: When I think of automakers that exemplify thoughtful, elegant design, Subaru doesn’t crack maybe the top 20. That’s fine — the brand has never really been about that, and the prettiest cars wearing the Star of Pleiades were more a product of their era rather than some sort of defining, idiosyncratic achievement. But over the past decade, Subaru has distanced itself even further from the plot, seemingly hell bent on being noticed for all the wrong reasons. The Viziv GT Vision had plenty of potential as a shooting brake made for the track; instead, it’s a bomb shelter on wheels that makes the new WRX seem well-adjusted.

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Best: Mazda LM55 Vision Gran Turismo

Best: Mazda LM55 Vision Gran Turismo

Front view of Mazda Vision Gran Turismo, with 787B in the foreground
Image: Sony Interactive Entertainment

Another quality of the best Vision GT projects is that they pay tribute, in one form or another, to a manufacturer’s legacy. Mazda remains very proud for being the first Japanese automaker to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans (even if its win in 1991 was kind of a fluke), and that’s well deserved. The company was inspired by that achievement when it gave us the LM55 back in 2014 — a futuristic Le Mans prototype that deftly tiptoes on that line of aggression and delicate precision. The way the rear terminates is a little too ramp-like for my tastes, but even in Gran Turismo 7, the LM55 remains my Gr. 1 machine of choice among the Vision GT contingent.

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Worst: Lamborghini Lambo V12 Vision Gran Turismo

Worst: Lamborghini Lambo V12 Vision Gran Turismo

View from above of Lamborghini Vision Gran Turismo
Image: Sony Interactive Entertainment

The Lamborghini Lambo V12 Vision Gran Turismo — yes, that is its real name — is the sort of concept so ridiculous, so aggressively annoying, that it compels you to think back and really question the brand’s entire legacy. “Was Lamborghini ever that great?” it makes you wonder. And while there’s no denying the innovation of the Miura and original Countach, nor the lasting silhouettes of the Diablo and the Murcielago, I’m left thinking it’s a blessing Lamborghini could never actually sell the cars it dreams of building today. Because they look like Bionicles, particularly the shitty insect ones.

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Best: Audi E-Tron Vision Gran Turismo

Best: Audi E-Tron Vision Gran Turismo

Front quarter view of Audi Vision Gran Turismo
Image: Sony Interactive Entertainment

My only beef with the E-Tron VGT is that it’s about 20 percent too large in every dimension. Still, that’s an issue with pretty much every car nowadays, and this tribute to Ingolstadt’s venerated 90 IMSA GTO race car somehow manages to make longtime Audi Sport fans swoon while keeping in line with the brand’s current design language. It actually exists, too — ask Ken Block — which is always going to be worth a heap of points in our scoring.

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Worst: Mitsubishi Concept XR-PHEV Evolution Vision Gran Turismo

Worst: Mitsubishi Concept XR-PHEV Evolution Vision Gran Turismo

Front quarter view of Mitsubishi Vision Gran Turismo
Image: Sony Interactive Entertainment

Mitsubishi joined the party very early with the Concept XR-PHEV Evolution. It was only the third Vision GT to be revealed, after Mercedes’ and BMW’s, and it had plenty of potential. Back in 2014 it’s not like Mitsubishi was looking significantly healthier than it is now, so the XR-PHEV could have been a total reboot — a celebration of the brand’s rallying heritage. Instead, it was woefully ugly and, much like the Subaru, previewed every bad design idea kicking around in the company at the time. I’m someone who actually digs the exterior of the new-ish Outlander, so maybe all the XR-PHEV needed was a little bit of restraint.

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Best: Suzuki Vision Gran Turismo

Best: Suzuki Vision Gran Turismo

Front and rear view of Suzuki Vision Gran Turismo
Image: Sony Interactive Entertainment

One of the newest cars on this list, Suzuki’s VGT works because it’s simple and fun, and Suzuki is simple and fun. A Hayabusa engine, coupled with electric motors, in a compact roadster that weighs just north of 2,100 pounds. It’s the modern GSX-R/4 — itself a lean, roofless concept powered by a motorcycle engine. An idea so good, it’s worth repeating as many times as Suzuki feels necessary. The Gr. 3 racing version is even sweeter, clothed in Suzuki’s MotoGP livery.

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Worst: Dodge SRT Tomahawk Vision Gran Turismo

Worst: Dodge SRT Tomahawk Vision Gran Turismo

Front view from above of three SRT Vision Gran Turismos
Image: Sony Interactive Entertainment

Few Vision Gran Turismo creations embody baseless vanity quite like the SRT Tomahawk — a Hot Wheels car that looks as if it’s been flattened by a real car, and is the fastest in the game and perfect at everything, because Dodge said so. Be honest: You only own one in GT7 to cheese regulation-free races. The Tomahawk is powered by a mid-mounted V10, routing power to all corners, along with whatever a “Variable-Fin Quad-Stage Pneumatic Power Unit” is:

Auxiliary power is stored in two composite pneumatic cylinders that run nearly the length of the wheelbase. Each of the front wheels is connected to a Variable-Fin Quad-Stage Pneumatic Power Unit that can rapidly store and release pneumatic energy. A similar Pneumatic Power Unit is connected to the V10 engine. This system provides the Tomahawk with All-Wheel-Drive capability to improve cornering and acceleration when grip at the rear wheels is traction limited.

I know these are all just video game toy cars, and really as long as a seven-year-old thinks the Tomahawk is cool, that’s all the justification it really needs to exist. But I also remember being seven once myself, and the way the most annoying kids would play pretend. The ones who’d say their car has a thousand-million horsepower, lasers and jet turbines, with a body that can turn invisible and is actually weightless, and how all of these things made it way better than your stupid imaginary car. These kids all grew up to preorder Hummer EVs.

By the way, the Chaparral 2X Vision Gran Turismo is guilty of many of these sins too, but it looks cooler and ventures so far into outlandish, unfathomable alien technology (the driver wears a wing suit and lays out stretched, their limbs occupying the housings for the suspension control arms; also it’s propelled by shock waves) that I respect it a little more for its gruesome creativity, and so it barely edges the SRT here. Just.

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Best: Peugeot Vision Gran Turismo

Best: Peugeot Vision Gran Turismo

Front quarter view of Peugeot Vision Gran Turismo
Image: Sony Interactive Entertainment

Despite its svelte exterior, Peugeot’s first Vision GT car is remarkably straightforward underneath the sculpted metal. A 3.2-liter turbocharged V6 sends 874 horsepower to all wheels through a six-speed dual-clutch gearbox. That’s it! And although I don’t tend to think of Peugeot as a supercar brand, it’s displayed a penchant in the past for having a good eye for the makings of a proper flagship. A few years later, the automaker followed this pretty concept up with a much uglier one called the L500R, reminding us why you never fix what ain’t broke.

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Worst: Mini Clubman Vision Gran Turismo

Worst: Mini Clubman Vision Gran Turismo

Rear quarter view of Mini Vision Gran Turismo
Image: Sony Interactive Entertainment

The problem with the Mini Clubman Vision Gran Turismo is that nobody’s ideal Mini is a Clubman, and so the whole idea was kind of doomed from the start. In fact, the Mini John Cooper Works GP probably would’ve made a more fitting concept for Gran Turismo, or maybe something like the Superleggera Vision that melds classic Mini design cues with the very un-Mini body style of a two-seat roadster. Besides, if Mini really wanted to make the Clubman a compelling performance car, it could have relocated the engine behind the driver, in a Clio V6/Espace F1/GTI W12 650 sort of fashion. After all, nobody’s ever going to hate on a mid-engined hatchback.

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