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Future models - Mazda - LM55 Vision Gran Turismo

Mazda uploads LM55 racer

Rotary ball: Only gamers will get to experience Mazda’s extraordinary Le Mans racer-inspired LM55 ultra-car, which appeared in version six of the popular Gran Turismo racing simulator on December 25.

Santa delivers Gran Turismo present with LM55 racer popping up on Christmas day

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Mazda logo29 Dec 2014

By DANIEL GARDNER

MAZDA’S much celebrated and cult-followed rotary engine is alive and kicking with a new Wankel-powered hypercar unveiled just in time for Christmas - but only in a virtual world.

The Japanese car-maker has joined the ever-growing group of manufacturers choosing to launch extreme concepts, racers and supercars in the online gaming arena, using the Sony Playstation game Gran Turismo 6 (GT6) as its global platform for the manic LM55 single-seater.

Gamers that downloaded a free update on Christmas day would have noticed the new vehicle roll-in to the virtual Vision Gran Turismo showroom ready to be purchased with hard-earned credits or as a prize in one of the game’s numerous special stages.

The fictitious vehicle was conceived in response to a challenge laid down to car manufacturers by Gran Turismo’s creator Polyphony Digital, to create the most extraordinary vehicles but without adhering to the limitations of the real world.

Mazda’s response goes alongside hyperbolic offerings from an increasing number of car-makers who took the game-designer up on its challenge, with bizarre offerings from Mitsubishi, Volkswagen, Infiniti, Mercedes, Aston Martin, Nissan, BMW and Toyota already featuring in the game.

The company says the LM55 draws inspiration from the heroic 787B race car that stole victory at Le Mans from the European competition in 1991 - the only time a Japanese car has sealed an overall win at the 24-hour endurance race.

Its name is a nod to the historic victory with LM abbreviating Le Mans and the 55 relating to the race number the 787B wore during the competition in France.

Impossibly low ground clearance, arch-filling wheels and wide aerodynamic surfaces mimic the 1990s racer but the LM55 wears an up to the minute Mazda face with an obvious dusting of the Kodo range-wide design language seen in most of its real cars.

No specific details including engine specs were released in a video of the new car and the Skyactiv livery it wears has previously only related to piston engines, but the high-revving soundtrack that accompanies the LM55 suggests it is driven by rotary power.

An almost identical noise was generated by the 2007 Mazda Furai concept racer, which was fully race-track ready and churned out 336kW from its three-rotor Wankel engine, but that car existed outside the realm of computer screens and sketch pads.

Mazda does state that the car has an all carbon-fibre monocoque construction with advanced drivetrain technology offering the “Epitome of power, efficiency and durability”. Quite what that means may never be known given the fantasy nature of the virtual gaming world.

While the car has already covered many thousands of kilometres in cyberspace, the company has not released any reference to a tangible version of the LM55, so if you want to get behind the wheel of the Mazda’s most extreme car you’ll have to settle for your armchair.

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