electric_cars_fm4_gt5In real life test I had several times the opportunity to drive electric cars (see Renault Zoe test drive) and it was always a big pleasure especially because of the acceleration and the uncommon sensation of “driving in silence”.  I’m a also a big fan of two driving simulation: Forza Motorsport 4 and Gran Turismo 5. Usually when you play such games you will take the fastest car in order to win all the races and don’t care about how many virtual C02 emissions your car is exhausting while driving – sorry playing ;-). I came to a curious idea: why not only racing with e-powered cars and testing their handling and agility on famous tracks like Le Mans or even the Nürburgring Nordschleife? Actually there are not so many electric and hybrid cars in these games: in Forza Motorsport you will get 4 cars and in Gran Turismo 5 (I’m not including the DLC) only 1. It’s a very small number, certainly having something to do with licensing and with the popularity of those new cars. Perhaps we will see in GT6 and Forza  new electric vehicles. Would be cool to drive a Tesla S or even enjoy the really bumpy suspensions of the Renault Twizy F1 over the curbs 😉

In this test, the maximum speed was determined by driving on the straight line of Le Mans/Mulsanne or Circuit de la Sarthe 2009/No Chicanes Circuit – Sarthe.

Tesla Roadster (GT5)

 

Tesla Roadster 2008 Edition in Gran Turismo 5

Tesla Roadster 2008 Edition in Gran Turismo 5

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The Testla Roadster in Gran Turismo 5

In category A in Forza 4

The Tesla Roadster ’08 is available in both games although in Forza 4 it’s a DLC. The Tesla Roadster has one of the best accelerations of its category and driving with this car is really nice. The car is really competitive and can be used against other cars to even win races!  The handling is like in any other sports car of its category, the acceleration of course is great and will give you a lot of fun. You can choose this car even against traditional cars, but beware that you will directly notice the up and downhills especially while racing: your car will lose power and here your opponents might overtake you with ease.

Notice that Gran Turismo 5 has a special display for the battery by showing when it gets reloaded (while braking) and its current state during the race.

Maximum speed (virtual): 234 km/h
Maximum speed (in reality) : 212 km/h

Nissan Leaf (Forza 4)

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Nissan Leaf selection

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Nissan Leaf in Forza 4 close up

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Interior of the Nissan Leaf

It’s difficult to get a very high speed with this car. On the straight line of Old Mulsanne Circuit you will see how the speed counter will get stuck at 159 km/h. Perhaps you might get a 160km/h if you go straight into the wall at the end of the line, but then your car will flip over. The acceleration is really nice but only for a few seconds. The weight of 1525 kg is noticeable and you will be overtaken by all other cars of your category.

On tracks like the Nurburgring with a lot of hills, you will directly feel that the car has not enough punch to master the bumpy track. And no need to try it on tracks like the Japanese Fujimi Kaido : the race will be annoying and you will have the feeling that you are going to break your gamepad by pressing the acceleration button: it’s really not an enjoyable car in this game.

Maximum speed (virtual): 159 km/h

Maximum speed (in reality): 144 km/h

 

Toyota Prius – Hybrid (Forza 4)

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Toyota Prius (Hybrid)

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The Toyota Prius is a hybrid car.

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Interior of the Toyota Prius while trying to break the speed record at Le Mans

 

Are you looking for a heavy car with no dynamics? It has the same handling as the Chevrolet Volt, but there is no fun, you even virtually feel the weight of the car (1320kg).  While driving at very high speed you will clearly hear the sound of the wind and like the in the Nissan Prius you will be limited and overtaking on straight lines will turn into a difficult task: one trick is to drive behind an opponent and use the drafting technique to be able to follow him somehow on straights and then when the first chicane comes you can try to overtake him. With the acceleration at the turns exit you will be able to win some extra meters but beware your opponent will be very fast and might overtake you.

Maximum speed (virtual): 209 km/h

Maximum speed ( in reality) : 180 km/h

Chevrolet Volt (Forza 4)

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The Chevy Volt. Notice the very low fuel consumption.

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This car is in the F Category (in Forza 4)

You feel that the car is really really heavy (1700 kg). The acceleration of the car is nice, but you really feel the weight of the car.

Small sound like in an UFO. You can win races against normal cars if you choose tracks with a lot of ups and down like in the or at the Ladera Test track. The acceleration will help you a lot in curbs.

Maximum speed (virtual): 211 km/h

Maximum speed (in reality): 161 km/h

Conclusion

All the technical details given in the presentation screens of the car are real and correspond to the real constructor’s data. General tips concerning hybrid / electric cars in Forza 4:  if you want to drive these cars in the game, try to select a small track (like Ladera Test Track or the mini circuit of the Camino Vieja Track). Avoid tracks with long straights (like Le Mans ) or with curbs you need to take with high speeds like in Barcelona or with very Bernese Alps. The pleasure of using an electric car comes from the acceleration: for a few seconds (max. 20sec) you will be able to get around.

I’ve also noticed that electric cars are beating conventional cars between the speed of 0-70km. In the 70-100km/h range the car needs more power and here you will feel the weakness of the car. Up to 100km/h the car has no chance against cars of the same category, because the speed is growing really slowly. The only car which doesn’t seem to have this issue (virtually speaking of course) is the Tesla Roadster.

Electric cars are underrepresented in current video games. If you want to compete against the “normal” cars in the same category then you will need a lot of driving skills because in  you will only be a little bit quicker.

My preferred tracks while driving with the Volt are :

Ladera Test Track (FM4) – Camino Viejo (Small Circuit – FM4) – Rally di Positano (FM4) – Tsukuba (FM4) (but beware of the straight finish line, where fuel-powered cars might overtake you very quickly) and the small Barcelona circuit (FM4)

Tracks to avoid: (or you really enough have time or want directly to loose against the other competitors): Nürburgring  (FM4 & GT5)– Fujimi Kaido – Camino Vieja Full Track – Monza (GT5) – LeMans (GT5 & FM4)

To sum up: choose small tracks with a lot of curves or chicanes: there you can take the curbs very sharply and use the full acceleration power of your electric car to gain some meters against your opponents.  Of course avoid tracks with very long straight lines or tracks that have hills.

Sources

http://www.gran-turismo.com/local/jp/data1/products/gt5/carlist_en.html

http://www.forzamotorsport.fr/voitures.html