Just of these reasons is how deep yet accessible the driving model is. Despite its name as the “real driving simulator”, Gran Turismo 7 is easy enough for sim newbies to pick up. That said, it is quite difficult to master, as evidenced by the many individual challenges in the game like the license tests and the Circuit Experience time trials.
If you’re a first time Gran Turismo player, the depth of content and mechanics in the game can certainly be daunting. Things like cornering, throttle control, drivetrains, driving assists, and more may be overwhelming to the uninitiated. But fear not — we’re here to teach you the basics so you can get off the starting line quickly.
Welcome to Hotspawn’s Gran Turismo 7 basics guide.
The GT Cafe and Menu Books
Unlike previous entries in the series, Gran Turismo 7 actually eases you into the single player campaign/career mode. The game does this via the GT Cafe, which assigns “missions” with individual themes to the player. These missions are called Menu Books, and typically involve collecting sets of cars that have something in common with one another.
For example, Menu Book No. 7, entitled “Collection: European Hot Hatches”, tasks players with obtaining three iconic modern era hatchbacks from Europe. Upon completing said task, Luca, the proprietor of the GT Cafe, gives the player a short history lesson on the cars featured in the Menu Book.
Typically, the easiest way to obtain cars for Menu Book completion is to place within the top three at an event associated with the Menu Book itself. For instance, the 2014 Volkswagen Polo GTI in Menu Book No. 7 is a reward for finishing at least third in the European Sunday Cup 400 event at the Sardegna Road Track. You can also opt to just buy the cars straight from the used car lot or Brand Central. But of course, this method naturally costs credits that could otherwise go to more expensive and more powerful cars.
The Menu Books are a great way for new players to dip their feet into Gran Turismo 7. In past entries, the games would practically throw players into the deep end with no inner tube to keep them afloat early on. Gran Turismo 7 breaks the mold by giving players something specific to do at the start of the game, while rewarding them with free cars all the while.
Drivetrains and Their Differences
When it comes to driving the cars in Gran Turismo 7, the most important thing for new players to take note of is each car’s drivetrain.
The term “drivetrain” refers to where you can find the engine of a car, as well as which set of wheels — front, rear, or all four — the engine sends its power to. Each car’s drivetrain is denoted with a two or three-letter abbreviation, such as “FR”, “MR”, or “4WD”.
A car’s drivetrain plays a significant part in how it performs on track. Certain drivetrains are more beginner-friendly, while others sacrifice ease of driving for outright speed and cornering ability. Knowing your drivetrains is key to success in Gran Turismo 7, especially given that not every car behaves the same way. And with over 425 cars in the entire Gran Turismo 7 car list, knowing which cars use which drivetrain types can quickly get confusing.
The drivetrain types in the game and their characteristics are as follows:
Front engine, front wheel drive (FF)
The FF layout involves placing the engine in the front of the car ahead of the front axle, and sending the engine’s power to the front wheels. This drivetrain is commonly found on the very same low-powered road cars that everyday people use on public roads, due to its increased safety and ease of use compared to other drivetrains.
In-game, FF cars are just as easy for first timers to pick up and drive. Many of them start out with not much horsepower, which generally means they are easier to tame and control out on track. FF cars also tend to understeer, which is much easier to correct on the fly compared to oversteer or spinning. Due to this, we recommend that new players come to grips with the game through FF cars for the first several hours.
Examples of FF cars in Gran Turismo 7 include the 2015 Honda Civic Type R and the 2015 Ford Focus ST.
Front engine, rear wheel drive (FR)
The FR layout sees the engine still ahead of the front axle. But instead of sending power to the front wheels, the engine does so towards the rear wheels instead. In the past, the FR layout was the drivetrain of choice for production road cars due to its practicality from an engineering standpoint. Over time, though, safety became a higher priority for car manufacturers, and the FF layout took over as the most common arrangement for road cars.
These days, only sports cars use the FR layout. Upon accelerating, FR cars transfer most of their weight to the rear, driving the rear wheels into the road surface and improving traction there. They also tend to understeer less than FF cars, as FR cars do not have to split the available grip between turning and accelerating at the same time.
FR cars are harder to control compared to FF cars, though, primarily because the drivetrain is typically found in high-powered cars that tend to slide at high speeds. Good throttle control is key to mastering the FR layout, making them worse for beginners compared to FF cars.
Examples of FR cars in Gran Turismo 7 include the 2019 Toyota GR Supra RZ, the 2008 Nissan Fairlady Z, and the 2002 Mazda RX-7 Spirit R.
Mid-engine, rear wheel drive (MR)
The MR layout involves placing the engine somewhere in between the front and rear axles, while sending power to the rear wheels. This drivetrain is quite uncommon when it comes to production-level road cars, and is normally reserved for supercars and dedicated professional racing cars.
When used in such a car, though, the MR layout allows for very high cornering speeds and elicits greater than normal response from the car when turning. This is due to the weight of the car being balanced close to the center of gravity and the rear wheels, which creates superior traction and grip at high speeds.
Generally speaking, MR cars in their unmodified forms are quite difficult to control, especially past a certain “limit” of grip at high speeds. Dedicated racing cars counteract this tendency by attaching aerodynamic devices such as spoilers, greatly mitigating the drivetrain’s inherent instability.
Examples of MR cars in Gran Turismo 7 include the 2010 McLaren MP4-12C, the 1991 Mazda 787B, and the 1997 Toyota MR2 GT-S.
Rear engine, rear wheel drive (RR)
The most uncommon drivetrain in Gran Turismo 7, the RR layout involves placing the engine behind the rear axle, while sending power to the rear wheels. This means that the rear wheels bear a large portion of the car’s weight, increasing traction in the rear and improving acceleration.
Unfortunately, RR cars tend to oversteer massively in high speed corners as a result of the drivetrain’s characteristics, making them the most difficult cars to control properly.
Examples of RR cars in Gran Turismo 7 include the 2016 Porsche 911 GT3 RS, and the 1972 Alpine A110 1600S.
Four-wheel drive (4WD)
4WD cars send their engine power to all four wheels on the road, regardless of where the engine is on the car itself. This provides incredible amounts of traction, particularly on loose surfaces like gravel and in wet weather conditions. In addition, 4WD cars have far superior acceleration off the starting line compared to other drivetrains thanks to their increased traction.
When it comes to handling and cornering, 4WD cars behave much like FF cars; they tend to understeer. This is due to the higher mass that 4WD cars have, just by nature of the engineering behind the drivetrain itself. And while 4WD cars can get off the line in a hurry, they tend to have less top speed in a straight line compared to their rear wheel drive counterparts.
Despite their weaknesses, though, 4WD cars are stable and simple to drive. Highly recommended for beginners after getting a taste of FF cars.
Examples of 4WD cars in Gran Turismo 7 include the 2017 Nissan GT-R Premium Edition, the 2015 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Final Edition, and the 2017 Honda NSX.
Oversteer vs. Understeer
Just what is this oversteer and understeer we mentioned above, anyway? These terms are deceptively complex, given that they exist only within the realm of car driving and aren’t really used anywhere else in the world. But in actuality, they’re both quite simple — they refer to how much a car steers when cornering.
Oversteer is when the car turns too much, resulting in the front end pointing too acutely towards the corner. The back end also slides out from the corner in the process, which may cause a spin.
Correcting oversteer is more difficult than correcting understeer, but generally speaking, the best way to correct it is to simply ease off the throttle. Oversteer is usually caused by putting down too much power through a corner, so stepping off the gas slightly will help keep the car planted.
Understeer, on the other hand, refers to when the car doesn’t turn enough into the corner, resulting in the car going off the track towards the outside. Understeer is usually caused by carrying too much speed when entering a corner, such as when braking too late or not braking enough.
Knowing the ideal braking points in each corner of the track you’re driving on is key to preventing understeer, so take your time acclimatizing yourself to the circuit.
Best Practices When Cornering
Like we said in the introduction to this guide, Gran Turismo 7 is a simulation game. This isn’t like Need for Speed or Burnout where you can drift through corners forever — you actually have to brake and turn sort of like how you would in real life to win races.
Attack the Exit, Not the Entry
We will sum up good cornering fundamentals in a simple phrase: “slow in, fast out”. This means that it’s better to be slow going into a corner than to be slow coming out of it, as corner exit is more important compared to corner entry. Ideally you want to brake hard on corner entry, use your momentum from there to carry you into the inside of the corner (also known as the “apex”), then gradually apply throttle as you come out.
Note that we say gradually, because simply mashing the accelerator on corner exit is guaranteed to make you lose grip due to wheelspin. This can cause you to oversteer, especially in a rear wheel drive car. Take your time to feel the grip coming back as you point the car in the right direction coming out of the corner, rather than getting antsy to make up for entering slowly.
Using a DualShock 4, or DualSense for Gran Turismo 7 on PS5, you can practice this kind of throttle control by using the analog functionality of the triggers. Simply push down partway to apply less than full throttle. The same principle goes for when you play with a steering wheel and a set of pedals, just as it would in real life.
Use the Racing Line
As a beginner, you can rely on the dynamic racing line to give you hints on where to be and where to brake for each corner in a given circuit. The racing line shows up as a light orange dotted or dashed line.
Once you get better at cornering in general, we recommend turning off the racing line, and relying on the distance markers on the side of the track instead.
Engine Power (and How to Add More)
Engine power in Gran Turismo 7 is expressed in terms of horsepower, abbreviated as “HP”. Without getting too technical, horsepower determines both the acceleration and top speed of a car. The higher the number, the “faster” the car is in terms of raw power.
For example, the 2017 Nissan GT-R Premium Edition has a base power value of 564 HP. This places it well above most other production sports cars. Meanwhile, the 2008 Nissan Fairlady Z comes in at 331 HP, putting it in the midrange of sports cars.
For the most part, you can increase engine power by installing engine upgrades, which are obtainable through the Tuning Shop. These upgrades directly increase a car’s horsepower value, which will have tangible effects in races.
Building an effective car isn’t just about raw power, though. Striking a good balance between power and handling is key to success on track, especially in higher level events. In lower level events, though, it’s possible to win just by having a power advantage.
In previous Gran Turismo titles, particularly the PSX and PS2 games, the practice known as homologation wasn’t really a concern. Homologation refers to restricting the performance of cars participating in a given event, which balances the competition against some specifications. For example, an event might restrict cars to less than 600 HP, or disallow the usage of full racing slick tires.
Gran Turismo 7 has homologation take the form of Performance Points (PP). Performance Points are a rough estimate of a car’s overall performance relative to other cars, taking engine power, handling and platform upgrades, and custom parts (like spoilers and front bumpers) into account. The more upgrades you install on your car, the higher its PP will go.
Many events in the game will have PP restrictions, capping out overall car performance. The World Touring Car 600 events, for example, will only allow cars with 600 PP or lower to participate.
Managing your car’s PP is important to maximizing performance while still being legal in the events you want to race in. The simplest way to do so is to purchase the Power Restrictor from the Tuning Shop, then apply it in the Settings menu before an event in order to lower your engine power. This then lowers your PP, which allows you to meet the homologation requirements.
Those are the basic concepts you need to know to get started with Gran Turismo 7! There’s plenty of intermediate and advanced topics to cover for the rest of the game, which we’ll get into through some more in-depth guides here on Hotspawn.