For enthusiasts of both brands, the relationship between Porsche and Gran Turismo has been an odd one. It took 20 years from the first game being launched to a Porsche featuring, fans of Boxsters and 911s having to get by with Rufs instead. Hardly a bad compromise – it introduced a pre-internet generation to some incredible cars – but the GT franchise always felt to lack something without Porsche’s official presence. Happily that situation was rectified in 2017, and now Stuttgart is fully embracing GT life with a Vision GT concept car.
Described by Porsche as a “spectacular virtual vehicle concept”, its Vision Gran Turismo is an electric, mid-engined sports car that is clearly future focused – hence Vision – but draws on current and historic themes as well. Porsche virtually revealed the VGT to journalists a few weeks ago, where attention was drawn to a front-end that pays homage to the legendary Bergspyder, the Taycan-esque light bar and a strong Mission R influence. According to Ingo Bauer-Scheinhütte of Porsche’s exterior design, the team in charge of this were keen to avoid the “huge, uber hypercars that looked more like fighter planes and less like cars” that some Vision GT concepts have been. They’re naming no names, of course, but you only need look at the Visions from McLaren, Jaguar, and Lamborghini to see where they might be coming from.
For better or worse (this is a fantasy car, first and foremost), the Porsche concept for Gran Turismo looks rather more real-world viable. Bauer-Scheinhutte went on to say that the design process began with the dainty, early mid-engined Porsches – the 356 and 550 – keen to “go back to those values and make something compact and not too extreme.” Which might not make it the most appealing to kids on a game right now, but the logic is easy to understand; Porsche talks of an “overriding goal” with its virtual presence to “create a lasting brand experience”. Or, in other words, make Porsches appeal to gamers now so they might want a real one in the future. And if the Cayman of the 2030s looks like the Vision Gran Turismo of their childhood, then all the better…
The interior of this car also aims to fuse present and future with a little of the past. Familiar Porsche EV dials are now a hologram ahead of the driver, the central stack isn’t dissimilar to a 918 and the drive mode dial on the wheel will be familiar to drivers of recent 911s. According to interior designer Doeke de Walle, Porsche is keen to retain a combination of digital and analogue inside, hence the VGT’s look – “we don’t want to go completely digital in our cars”, he noted. For full real-world authenticity, Porsche even charges extra in the game for the Race-Tex steering wheel (that’s a joke). Plenty, understandably, is also pinched from Mission R, another mid-engined electric Porsche that was half race car and half simulator pod – note the interior camera and dramatic clam roof. And vegan materials, natch.
The Vision GT is evidently a big deal for Porsche, not merely some pet project for a few committed gamers to work on in their spare time. Robert Adler, Marketing VP, said, “The partnership with Polyphony Digital and ‘Gran Turismo’ is a perfect fit for Porsche, because motorsport – whether real or virtual – is part of our DNA.” The release went on to add that this new concept is “an important milestone in the strategic partnership between Porsche and Polyphony Digital. Even Kazunori Yamauchi stopped smoking for five minutes to join in: “The appeal of a Porsche comes from its purist design… We share the same passion for racing and are looking to the future of the car.”
Though Porsche is adamant the Vision Gran Turismo doesn’t point to any production model, this is less berserk than some of the other concepts. And clearly related to the Mission R, itself a preview of future Porsche racers. So don’t be surprised if some design themes make it to the electric sports cars – no bad thing, surely, given how this has turned out. But that’s a little way off; having been shown at the Gran Turismo Championships World Finals, the Porsche Vision GT is available as soon as Gran Turismo 7 launches, which is scheduled for March 4th 2022. Best book the day off now.