The hot rides in the new Gran Turismo 5 may get all the attention, but the locations are just as much a part of the jaw-dropping fun.
Sony’s highly anticipated Gran Turismo 5 certainly does its best to live up to its grandstanding tagline of “the real driving simulator.” In the latest version of the 13-year-old racing series, fans can virtually hop into more than 1,000 of the world’s fastest and most exotic cars, each presented in pristine 3D detail. But the rides are only half of the story. What are hot wheels without cool places to spin ’em?
The game’s dozens of locales read like a dream globetrotting itinerary, from famed race tracks to scenic rides through real cities. Inspired, we dreamed up a high-speed vacation by comparing the high-speed game to its real-life counterparts.
In the game: Gravel roads, sudden hills and stark orange sunsets mark this beautiful countryside drive through Tuscany’s Orcia Valley. Unlike many of GT5’s locations, this course has little visual clutter, allowing grassy plains to stretch out as far as the eye can see.
In real life: This ride is stunning in person, as long as you’re piloting a car tuned for a dirt road. Consider parking on occasion to best take in the valley’s seemingly endless view of lakes, trees and rustic hilltop homes.
DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY; DAYTONA BEACH, FLA.
In the game: In a first for the Gran Turismo series, players can step into some of NASCAR’s best-known cars, like those driven by Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon. The virtual enormity and roaring crowd of NASCAR’s most famous course, where the annual Daytona 500 is held, do it justice.
In real life: You’ll need to rack up some sponsorships before driving all 200 laps.
In the game: The virtual track through Rome begins by rounding the Colosseum. After winding along San Gregorio Street, flanked by Italian stone pines, the course concludes at the Il Vittoriano monument, littered with its many stone sculptures.
In real life: Unlike the game, Rome’s streets aren’t marked off with barricades and bleachers full of fans, but easy turns and wide lanes make this an ideal route for slow driving and sightseeing.
TOP GEAR TEST TRACK; SURREY, ENGLAND
In the game: This isn’t just any number-eight-shaped track — it’s a recreation of the 1.75mile strip used to test-drive the world’s most beautiful rides on England’s famed car-and-racing show, Top Gear. Yes, the cloudy British skies and surrounding warehouses are accurately depicted, but speed is the attraction here. The track — full of soft turns and lengthy straightaways — is the best GT venue for maxing out those virtual engines.
In real life: Aside from calling the BBC and begging, this is the closest you’ll get to the actual track.
PLAZA DE LA PUERTA DEL SOL, MADRID
In the game: Of GT5’s city courses, this replica of the circuit in downtown Madrid feels the liveliest, featuring landmarks like the Alcalá Gate along with subtle touches like roadside storefronts.
In real life: The game’s stretch of narrow, sharp-turn roads is very close to what you’d experience on a drive through the Spanish capital, though GT5’s version doesn’t have any of the city’s scooter riders to get in your way.