Polyphony Digital, the developers that brought the world revered titles like Gran Turismo series, have created a one-of-a-kind hypercar in collaboration with Red Bull, named the X1.
We love products like the Sony Playstation, Xbox and Nintendo Wii here at Sports Focus. They enable one to live out their fantasies – no matter how outrageous – vicariously, all from the comfort of the living room couch. When it comes to car-orientated gaming, I speak on behalf of all petrol-heads when I say that Gran Turismo, arguably the most realistic driving game available, is the next best thing to hopping behind the steering wheel in reality. This time, however, the gang at Polyphony Digital has decided to materialise the motoring excitement on-screen, by birthing an actual car. But it’s far from ordinary, being capable of rocketing to speeds in excess of 450km/h – these are nerds with a need for speed indeed.
The brief was to create an immensely fast, no-compromise racing vehicle, unhampered by the rules and regulations that often govern vehicles of this kind. From the pictures, you can certainly tell that the designers went all out with this one: it’s an aerodynamic masterpiece, resembling the shape of a poised, sharp arrow – and definitely capable of travelling as swiftly as the weapon, managing an astonishing 0-120mph time of just 2,8 seconds.
These crazy figures are partly attributed to the fact that the X1 is a “fan-car”. And this doesn’t only refer to the idea that Gran Turismo fans will adore the car – it literally means that an actual fan of the turbine variety is affixed to the sleek machine. The aim behind the fitment of a fan, which sits snugly at the rear of the X1, is to alleviate the build up of pressure beneath the floor of the car. This greatly improves downforce and renders safer handling and stability at high speeds. The X1 isn’t the first to employ such a system, though. In the year 1970, American automobile racing team, Chaparral, produced the 2J model and entered it into the CanAm racing tournament of that year. The 2J’s 700-horseower engine and two 17-inch fans at the rear gave it such tremendous speed and handling abilities, that other teams like Mclaren complained that it was too fast and had an unfair advantage with the fan system. It was eventually banned.
At the heart of the brisk beast is, surprisingly, not a massive V10, or V12 engine, but a 3000cc V6 engine strapped with two turbochargers. This makes for a whopping maximum power output of 1106 kilowatts and 714 Newton-metres of torque. Now, that’s a mountain of power by anyone’s standards. But it gets crazier when you contemplate the weight of the X1: a very dainty 545 kilograms. On acceleration, the X1 generates G-force in the 8-plus range. This is said to be a level of performance tethering on the precipice of what the human body can withstand.
You would think someone like Top gear’s Stig – who is expendable, as proved in that one episode where he was quickly replaced with a “new” Stig after driving off a jet-carrier in a Jaguar, would have been used in the testing process of the X1 – just in case things turned precarious. Instead, renowned F1 driver Sebastian Vettel was given the task of proving the credentials of the hypercar. Vettel set a blistering time of 1 minute and 4 seconds around the Nurburgring Nordshleife circuit and also managed to shorten the record time around the Suzuka Circuit by a full 20 seconds.
People like you and I, who neither possess the incredible driving skills nor access to the Red Bull-Polyphony Digital X1 as Sebastian Vettel has, can take solace in a slightly cheaper thrill: the “X1 Challenge” in Gran Turismo 5, from our armchairs, through the beloved gadget, the Playstation 3.