Put on your seatbelt and start your engine, as we take a look at the best Gran Turismo games!
Since the first game appeared way back in 1997, there have been lots of Gran Turismo games – and each of them has been a technical showcase for its respective platform.
Which ones are the best though? Let’s find out, as we take a look at the best Gran Turismo games!
Table of Contents
10. Gran Turismo HD Concept (PS3, 2006)
The first appearance of the Gran Turismo series on the PS3, Gran Turismo HD Concept was a ‘Prologue’ style experience – which the series has often used as a stopgap before full games are ready to release – but in this instance, it was a free download (though also as an ‘installation disc’ in Japan – which now fetches very high prices on eBay!).
Content-wise, it was relatively thin – especially for a Gran Turismo game, which are usually stuffed full of cars and other features.
Featuring a single race track – the Eiger Nordwand, a mountain pass track – which could also be unlocked in reverse mode, Gran Turismo HD Concept was also notable for including a Drift Trial mode, new camera views and for being the first Gran Turismo game in HD, as you may have expected from the title!
9. Gran Turismo 4 Prologue (PS2, 2003)
Despite being intended as a stopgap before Gran Turismo 4’s full release, Gran Turismo 4 Prologue was still a reasonably fully featured title – containing 50 cars and five courses, along with many of the features that the main series was known for, such as normal races, time attack events and license tests.
Gran Turismo 4 Prologue actually ended up having more content included than many other racing games at the time!
With the full Gran Turismo 4 not launching until 2005 in most territories, this cut down experience kept fans going for quite some time until the proper game arrived.
Certainly not a bad game – there’s no such thing as a ‘bad’ Gran Turismo game, really – and it definitely plugged a gap in the market while the perfectionists at Polyphony Digital continued beavering away on Gran Turismo 4.
8. Gran Turismo Sport (PS4, 2017)
Not quite a Prologue and not quite a full Gran Turismo game either (though series creator Kazunori Yamauchi has referred to it as a main series title) Gran Turismo Sport had a strong focus on online racing and marked, somewhat surprisingly, the first time that Porsche cars had featured in the series!
Gran Turismo Sport also featured support for PlayStation VR – another series first that brought a new level of immersion to the games.
Though initially online-only, which was a problem for players with unreliable internet connections and did make the game feel a little lacking for players not interested in online play, a more traditional single player mode was added in 2018 and much more single player content has been added via free updates since then, massively improving the game’s content from it’s slightly underwhelming original release.
7. Gran Turismo 5 (PS3, 2010)
Perhaps surprisingly, Gran Turismo 5 introduced vehicle damage to the series for the very first time! Weather, karting and even stereoscopic 3D made appearances in the feature set of Gran Turismo 5 too, which also had a course editor and a hugely improved physics model in comparison to its predecessors.
An online mode was also included, allowing players to meet up at in-game ‘lounges’ and trade cars and accessories before competing on the racetrack.
Though surpassed by Gran Turismo 6 a few years later – which featured a similar six-screen, six-console method of playing via LAN that Gran Turismo 5 did – this was still an excellent title; it made it onto our list of the best PS3 racing games too!
6. Gran Turismo (PS1, 1997)
The word ‘groundbreaking’ can be bandied around a little too often for it to retain its true meaning, but in the case of 1997 title Gran Turismo, it’s a word that applies without any question.
Gran Turismo was in production for an astonishing five years, a time period for development all but unheard of during the 90s.
Yet the hard work in producing the title paid massive dividends, as it was released to a rapturous critical and commercial reception.
Billed as the ‘Real Driving Simulator’, Gran Turismo was one of the first driving games to feel truly authentic not just from an audiovisual perspective, but also in terms of its physics and driving models.
Cars looked, sounded and felt as realistic as they could given the limitations of the PS1 hardware – and it was here that the reputation of the Gran Turismo series, in delivering standard-setting experiences, was truly set in stone. Both this game and its sequel – Gran Turismo 2 – unsurprisingly feature on our Best PS1 Racing Games list!
5. Gran Turismo (PSP, 2009)
Anyone who was concerned that it wasn’t possible to get a ‘full’ Gran Turismo experience on Sony’s – admittedly powerful – PSP handheld had their fears allayed once the game was released.
Despite not featuring a career mode, there was an impressive amount of content squeezed onto the game’s UMD disc.
The team at Polyphony Digital were able to include an amazing 833 cars and 45 tracks, with players able to race in three different modes: Time Trial, Single Race and Drift Trial).
Lamborghini and Bugatti cars were licensed and appeared for the very first time in the series in the PSP title too!
Local multiplayer via the PSP’s Ad Hoc mode was also included. Is it any wonder that Gran Turismo was featured on our list of the best PSP racing games, or that it went on to become one of the best selling PSP games?
4. Gran Turismo 6 (PS3, 2013)
As one of the PS3’s best-selling games ever (just making it into the top 10 with more than 5 million copies sold – check it out on our best selling PS3 games list!), Gran Turismo 6 was an undoubted success sales-wise, though that’s hardly a surprise for the perennially popular series.
As a game that released late in the lifecycle of the then-aging PS3, Gran Turismo 6 was a fantastic showcase for the audiovisual capabilities of the console that featured some seriously impressive features.
Though it was unlikely that many players were able to take advantage of it, the game could be set up with up to six different views, on six different screens, if six PS3 consoles were linked together via LAN.
It just goes to show the lengths that Polyphony Digital have always gone to in order to present the most comprehensive, realistic-feeling driving experience on console – and in pushing contemporary technology as far as it can go!
3. Gran Turismo 2 (PS1, 1999)
Gran Turismo 2 had a near-impossible task of improving upon its groundbreaking predecessor – and though it wasn’t a huge leap forward – given the limitations of the then-aging PS1 hardware, it did an admirable job.
Gran Turismo 2 also had the challenge of reaching the incredible sales figures of the first game, which was one of the best selling PS1 games of all time (though it couldn’t quite match the sales of Gran Turismo, it came pretty close!).
At the time of release, the selection of cars – at 650 available in game – was the largest in any video game. With 27 tracks available too, Gran Turismo 2 certainly wasn’t short of content – and thankfully, the incredible audio, visuals and excellent gameplay were all present and correct too, after the high standards set by the 1997 original.
2. Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec (PS2, 2001)
The leap in technical prowess between the PS1 and PS2 was huge, with that never more apparent than when comparing the look and feel of Gran Turismo games on the two consoles.
Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec had big shoes to fill and a huge amount of expectation to live up to, but the technical wizardry – not to mention obsessive attention to detail when it came to the recreation of cars and tracks – of the developers at Polyphony Digital meant that this first PS2 entry in the series more than lived up to the hype.
Though the selection of cars is greatly reduced in comparison to Gran Turismo 2 – owing to the increased complexity of modelling cars in far greater detail – in reality, a selection of around 180 cars is more than enough for most players!
It won’t surprise you to find Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec on our list of the best PS2 games – this was an absolutely mind-blowing experience back in the day and holds up surprisingly well more than 20 years later!
1. Gran Turismo 4 (PS2, 2004)
Our coveted top spot for the best Gran Turismo games list, however, goes to the second PS2 entry in the series: Gran Turismo 4.
This one truly took the Gran Turismo series to the next level, with over 700 cars (covering a huge range of time periods – with some genuinely historic cars included from as far back as the late 19th century!), a selection of more than 50 tracks, new driving missions, a photo mode and even the compelling ‘B-Spec’ mode, putting players in the role of a racing crew chief, issuing instructions to the driver on the race track.
With greatly improved physics in comparison to Gran Turismo 3, this game felt like the pinnacle of driving games back when it was first released; just like the previous game, it’s also aged a lot more gracefully than many games of its era.
With many Gran Turismo games being huge sellers on their respective systems, it’s no surprise to see this one turning up on the best selling PS2 games list either.
Though ultimately it’s a closer race than you may think between all ten of the games on this list, Gran Turismo 4 just about takes the lead and gets the gold as the best Gran Turismo game of them all!
How many units have the Gran Turismo games sold?
Since the very first Gran Turismo game was released on the PS1 in 1997, the series has gone on to sell more than 85 million units worldwide. So it’s more than fair to say that the Gran Turismo games are hugely popular – and each one has been an absolute technical showcase for the platform it’s appeared on, with stunningly recreated, real world cars and tracks. The attention to detail, even back on the PS1, has always been jaw-dropping – and has no doubt helped to shift not just the games, but PlayStation consoles to car enthusiasts worldwide.
What platforms have the Gran Turismo games appeared on?
Being a Sony-published series (developed by PlayStation studio Polyphony Digital), the Gran Turismo games have only ever appeared on Sony consoles. Owners of PS1, PS2, PS3, PSP, PS4 and PS5 consoles have all been able to hop into the driver’s seat and take hundreds of cars for a spin in the Gran Turismo series of games.
How many Gran Turismo games have been released?
There have been 21 Gran Turismo games released, as well as numerous demo versions of some of the titles in the series.
What’s the most recent Gran Turismo game – and why isn’t it on the list?
The latest is Gran Turismo 7 on the PS4 and PS5, which – though highly rated critically, as the Gran Turismo games often are – was poorly received by many players, due to an in-game economy that’s painfully, deliberately geared towards grinding and microtransactions. Some in-game cars cost as much as $200 in real money.
Ouch! Changes have been made to the in-game economy as of April 2022, however – so hopefully the reputation of the series is getting back on track.
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Jason – who lives in the UK – has had a lifelong interest in video games, which all started when he discovered Space Invaders in the early 80s. The first game he ever completed was Wonder Boy in Monster Land on the Sega Master System – which remains one of his proudest gaming achievements. Jason is a passionate writer – and has been writing about gaming since the late 90s. He currently runs pop culture blog midlifegamergeek.com, which he updates on a daily basis (and has written more than 700 articles on the blog alone!).
Outside of video games, Jason is a keen tabletop gamer, film buff and comic book fan.