Announced just as we went on our Christmas holiday was news that SCEA was to release Gran Turismo HD Concept as a free download for the PlayStation 3. Obviously this is now available, and by all accounts it's a rather impressive next-gen entry for the series.

Although running at an impressive 1080p, Gran Turismo HD Concept is only a taster of what is in store for racing enthusiasts, with a true next generation Gran Turismo sequel not expected until 2008.

What you get is an all-new course to race around (Eiger Nordwand is your one and only track), plus cars from ten worldwide manufacturers including Ferrari, Lotus, Nissan and Suzuki.

Cars in order of appearance in game (available in stock and "tuned" versions):

  • 1995 Suzuki Cappucino
  • 1989 Mazda Eunos Roadster
  • 2004 Honda Integra TYPE R
  • 1996 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IV GSR
  • 2006 Infiniti G35 Coupe
  • 2005 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX GSR
  • 2005 Lotus Elise 111R
  • 1994 Nissan SKYLINE GT-R Vspec II
  • 1995 Toyota Celica GT-FOUR Rally Car
  • 2006 Ferrari 599

This is a free download so don't expect a full-blown GT experience. Here your main game mode is Time Trial, in which you have a series of challenges to complete, each unlocking a new car. Complete all the Time Trial challenges to unlock ten more tuned cars and the ability to race around the Eiger Nordwand track in reverse.

In addition to Time Trial a Drift Trial mode is included. Here players are judged on their drifting ability rather than lap times. Earn drift points based on drift angles, racing lines, and speeds within evaluation zones located at various turns on the course.

One final bonus is the ability to upload your best times and scores and view the Top 10 rankings for each car and mode. There's even the option to download replays.

Gran Turismo HD Concept is available now in Japan and North America, but Sony has said that it will only be available for a limited time. There's also no word on whether or not the game will be released in Europe when the PlayStation 3 finally arrives on these shores.