“We are the first constructor to break the virtual barrier” claims Citroën with pride. The truth is more complicated, however: the GTbyCitroën show car presented at Paris is in fact a successful fusion between the real and the digital. It was created in a joint project between the French marque and Polyphony, the software developer behind the Gran Turismo 5 driving simulator for the Playstation3.

Before the GTbyCitroën appeared on the stand at Paris flaunting forms unashamedly inspired by the virtual world, it had already been seen in the 50 million copies of the game sold worldwide. The fact that the car on the Playstation is propelled by electric motors powered by a fuel cell producing no harmful emissions at all has very little to do with the reality of a car more akin to a pure racer than a GT, with a normal internal combustion engine (probably a 12 cylinder unit, but still a secret) delivering 550 bhp for a top speed of 300 Km/h.

“This car”, says Kazanori Yamauchi, “demonstrates how the virtual world and the real world can come together to create an innovative partnership.”

Yamauchi is the president of Polyphony Digital, but has also been a friend since childhood of Takumi Yamamoto, the Citroën designer, who jumped at the opportunity for this collaboration. He proposed the idea to PSA Group design chief, Jean-Pierre Ploué, who was enthusiastic about the prospect and gave the project the go-ahead. Under the guidance of Citroën advanced design director Gilles Vidal, Yamamoto himself designed the exterior, while the interior was defined by Pascal Grappey (colour and trim) and Vincent Lobry, with Patrick Arnaud acting as studio engineer. In eight months, the GTbyCitroën, fabricated by Estech on the chassis of a Ford GT40 replica, was a reality.

The article continues in Auto & Design no. 175

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