Kazunori Yamauchi may have been challenged to make the sixth installment of his Gran Turismo video game seriously bigger and better than ever, but in doing so, he in turn challenged 22 automakers to create futuristic sports cars for use in the new Gran Turismo 6. The Mercedes-Benz Vision Gran Turismo Concept, which debuts at the 2013 Los Angeles auto show, isn't just the first of these 22 bespoke designs to officially debut; it might be one of the only ones modeled outside of a digital environment.
The long, low-slung concept you see here isn't a rendering produced by a Playstation 4 or a designer's computer. It's an actual, full-size concept car that will soon grace Mercedes-Benz's display stand at the L.A. auto show, even before it's offered up to GT6 players later this year. And while Mercedes-Benz has some significant hardware debuting at this year's show -- including the monstrous 2015 S65 AMG -- there's a good chance the Vision Gran Turismo concept will all but steal the limelight.
According to Gorden Wagener, Daimler's vice president of design, the finished concept "embodies the brand's defining design philosophy of sensuous purity." That's all well and good, but the Vision Gran Turismo concept looks like no other modern Mercedes-Benz. The concept will likely draw comparisons to designs produced by Infiniti and Jaguar, among others, not because it's derivative but because its flowing surfaces are unlike those on most other Mercedes-Benzes.
Its proportions -- ultralong hood; stubby deck; svelte cabin placed just forward of the rear axle -- and gullwing doors are shared with only one contemporary Mercedes-Benz model: the SLS AMG. However, unlike the SLS, which has always looked a little boxy and blunt from certain angles, the Vision Gran Turismo concept is slender, sinewy, and organic. A large, ovoid grille -- allegedly inspired by the original 1952 300 SLR racer -- is accented with LED lighting. Wide, rotund fenders cascade toward the grille opening, while thin, tapered headlamps span the distance between the grille and the wheel well. The roofline flows neatly rearward, tapering inward to further accentuate the bulbous shoulders. The narrow rear fascia is split in two by a wraparound taillamp assembly that bisects an octet of exhaust tips framed in a flattened, hexagon-shaped surround.
Interior images are few and far between, but Mercedes-Benz says to expect a stylish, if not simplistic, cabin. A split dashboard, which wraps into the door panels, is shaped to resemble a pair of open gullwing doors. The red sport seats are integral to the cabin design and blend into the footwell, forming what Daimler calls a "flowing, sculptured shell." A glass surface placed just above the racing-inspired steering wheel provides information, and controls are reduced to a handful of rocker switches located on the center of the dashboard and in an overhead console.
Given the fact that Daimler has labored on the Vision Gran Turismo for only about six months, it's unlikely that the concept car is anywhere close to drivable, but that hasn't stopped Mercedes-Benz from dreaming up some provisional specifications. A press release claims the car is powered by an AMG twin-turbocharged V-8 -- likely the 5.5-liter used in the majority of AMG 63-series models -- that provides 577 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque. As the Vision Gran Turismo allegedly tips the scales at 3053 pounds (thanks, aluminum space frame!), the concept theoretically has a power-to-weight ratio of 5.2 pounds per horsepower.
We doubt the Mercedes-Benz Vision Gran Turismo will ever turn a wheel in anger on an actual, physical road course, nor do we think it will directly translate into a production car, but we wouldn't be surprised if many of its design cues wind up in future Mercedes-Benz models. Case in point? We hear AMG's hard at work on a smaller sports car that would slot in beneath the SLS...