Mercedes-Benz AMG Vision Gran Turismo brings video-game design to reality

In the race to own the minds of couch-bound racers, Microsoft's Forza and Sony's Gran Turismo video game series have played a eight-year leapfrog match, with each new generation using ever-swelling oceans of polygons and physics simulators to create the most realistic worlds possible inside a game console.

Today, Mercedes-Benz revealed the latest move by the creators of the Gran Turismo series: Making the dream cars inside the game a reality, beginning with this, the AMG Vision Gran Turismo, powered by a twin-turbo 577-hp V-8. These images aren't screen captures — they're photographs.

As part of the upcoming Gran Turismo 6 game launching for the PlayStation 3 on Dec. 6, Gran Turismo invited several of the world's leading car design studios to create unique concept cars that players can eventually download and race inside the game, with at least 15 expected to be unveiled over the coming months, ranging from General Motors and Chrysler's SRT division to Italian design houses Zagato and Bertone.

Working in bits rather than metal frees corporate designers from the demands that all too often make concepts unworkable, and as the Red Bull X2010 showed in the previous edition of GT5, the allure of no constraints can lead to overwrought designs. That Mercedes chose to make a full-scale version of its virtual entry suggests how seriously professional designers take such tasks.

2013 Los Angeles auto show

While the AMG Vision Gran Turismo has a few classic Benz touches — especially the long front and gullwing doors — in many other respects it's like nothing that Mercedes has produced in recent memory. The front grille has a weave of LED lights; the two-seat greenhouse has been pulled back and tightened, and the rear tapers in a Jaguar-like fashion. It's not just a styling buck; the AMG Vision Gran Turismo weighs 3,053 lbs., with a full aluminum-carbon fiber chassis holding the V-8, along with an interior supposedly inspired by F1 cars — although the wheels fit so tightly in the fenders it's unclear how the car would survive a speed bump.

We'll see the car in the metal and carbon-fiber this week, after which it will live on only on millions of screens — and for the designers at Mercedes and elsewhere, that's a far better payback for a concept car than they're accustomed to. And we'll be shocked if the AMG Vision Gran Turismo isn't the only GT6 concept to come to life.

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