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Gran Turismo 7 adds VR, ‘superhuman’ AI, and the coolest car of all time

No, it’s not the Porsche

Five cars in Gran Turismo 7: two sleek concept cars, a 1960s Honda F1 car, a classic Porsche 911, and a Citroën DS Image: Polyphony Digital/Sony Interactive Entertainment
Oli Welsh is senior editor, U.K., providing news, analysis, and criticism of film, TV, and games. He has been covering the business & culture of video games for two decades.

Gran Turismo 7 has just received its 1.29 update, and it’s a significant one. The patch introduces support for Sony’s new PlayStation VR 2 headset, a fearsome new racing AI, a classic GT track, and five new vehicles, one of which — alright, maybe two — can lay claim to being the coolest and most beautiful car ever produced.

The big news is really the virtual reality mode which, unlike the VR implementation in Gran Turismo Sport, is available in all races and game modes (excluding two-player split-screen). There’s also an exclusive VR showroom for ogling the game’s gorgeous car models. According to Digital Foundry’s John Linneman, this mode is pretty special; could this patch make GT7 one of the killer apps for PSVR 2?

PSVR 2 support isn’t the only remarkable bit of tech being added to Polyphony Digital’s game in the latest update. The “revolutionary superhuman AI racing agent” Gran Turismo Sophy, developed by Sony’s AI labs and first revealed a year ago, is engineered not only to be unbeatably fast but to race against others aggressively while still respecting racing etiquette. You can pit yourself against Sophy — either one-on-one in identical machinery, or in other race settings that might give you a fighting chance — in a special time-limited mode between now and the end of March.

The classic track is Grand Valley, one of the most technical and demanding of the original, Polyphony-designed Gran Turismo tracks. It returns to the series for the first time since 2013’s Gran Turismo 6. And the five new cars are two versions of the Italdesign Exeneo (a Vision Gran Turismo concept car); the 1965 Honda RA272, a classic Grand Prix machine; the iconic 1973 Porsche 911 Carrera RS, perhaps the most desirable 911 ever made; and... the Citroën DS.

The Citroën DS is not a fast car. It’s not even vaguely sporty. It’s a French sedan, known for its employment of quirky technologies like hydropneumatic suspension and directional headlights, and for looking like it was from the future. Frankly, this car — which, bear in mind made its debut in 1955 — still looks like it’s from the future now. Here it is in Gran Turismo 7.

A beautiful, streamlined aerodynamic car, the Citroën DS, in a fetching green color in Gran Turismo 7 Image: Polyphony Digital/Sony Interactive Entertainment

Polyphony Digital has opted for a late model, the 1970 DS 21 Pallas, with its sharklike covered headlamp units. Here’s another one, in the real world. Just look at it. Have you ever seen a more elegant-looking automobile?

Classic Days - Festival of Culture & Motoring, Lifestyle Photo: Sjoerd van der Wal/Getty Images

(It’s at this point that I should confess that my maternal grandfather, a lifelong Citroën loyalist, owned two of these things, so I’m a bit biased. But still!)

The DS is undoubtedly a car of historic importance — the aerodynamic body by Flaminio Bertoni was shocking at the time, and hugely influential, predicting at least the next half-century of automotive design. But it’s also just ineffably cool, and cool in a way racing cars can never be. Gran Turismo mastermind Kazunori Yamauchi and the Polyphony team have once again shown their class, and their deep affection for automotive lore, by including it.

And yes, I’d probably have the Porsche, too.