If you're not entirely happy with the way your car's handling there are a number of pre-race options that can be changed. Manual or Automatic transmission is the most basic, but there are also options to change your front and rear tyre type, the level of traction control, automatic stability management, active steering (to help correct oversteer) and simulation. Simulation can be set to standard or professional, with the latter making your car considerably more difficult to control but delivering a more realistic experience.
At times ploughing through the fairly uninspired single-player mode can get a little dull, but thankfully there's a more focused Challenge Mode that more than makes up for it. There are more than 50 challenges, split between nine difficulties, designed to get you up to speed with driving basic corners through to the most advanced sections of track. It's not quite the licence tests of old GTs, but with bronze, silver and gold medals to earn and loads of credits up for grabs you'll want to invest a fair amount of time perfecting small sections of track.
By far the biggest disappointment is the underwhelming multiplayer functionality. All you have here is basic four-player local wireless play across a handful of modes, with various options that allow players of all skill types to play together. There's no online play, which is a big shame considering other racers on the PSP have offered it. There isn't even any online leaderboards for time trial times or the ability to share ghost laps with other players (this is limited to your own best laps). While it's great that the core GT experience has arrived on the PSP, it's hard not to want a more complete package.
Another personal problem is dirt and ice racing. These courses simply aren't fun, with the slippy handling proving a nightmare to get the hang of - thankfully they only account for eight out of the 45 tracks. Far better is the drift racing, which actually works better than similar modes in other racers. Here your time is irrelevant, with your position determined by points earned by powersliding around corners. It'll take time to get the hang of and you'll need to tune your chosen car to get the most out of it, but it's another well implemented component of Gran Turismo on the PSP.
For all intents and purposes GT on PSP looks like GT4 with lower resolution textures and some unfortunate graphical glitches. It's easily the most visually impressive racer on the PSP, for the most part running at a silky 60 frames per second, but dotted white lines that appear on the tracks and scenery give the game an almost rough appearance. The built up courses are by far the most impressive, boasting stunning detailed buildings and gorgeous views, and the vehicle models are what you'd expect from a developer that clearly loves everything about cars. There's also a solid audio track list and each of the cars sound authentic - you can even play your own MP3s once the feature is unlocked.
Make no mistake, this is Gran Turismo as you remember it but on a handheld, and done in a way that betters what I imagined was possible. It looks great, plays superbly and has an absolute ton of content to work through. It's impossible not to feel more than a little let down by what's missing, though. A more structured career mode would have been great, online leaderboards and ghosts simply should have been included, and the lack of online play is bitterly disappointing. Who knows what will be added to the game post release, but as it stands we've got the ultimate handheld driving game with a fairly bare bones feature list. Buy it, spend hours earning credits and buying cars, and try to overlook the glaring omissions without shedding a small tear.