Fiat Chrysler Automobiles joined the likes of Infiniti, Peugeot and a slew of other automakers this week, revealing its Vision Gran Turismo video game car. Like all those parties before it, FCA took full advantage of the opportunity, creating an outright extreme hypercar with a level of performance that can only exist in a game. The single-seat SRT Tomahawk sports car develops nearly 2,600 hp from a hybrid powertrain with V10 and air compression drive.
The wild looks of the Tomahawk had their beginnings in an internal design competition challenging FCA US designers to show their visions of a high-performance Dodge from the year 2035. Each designer submitted a sketch, and FCA chose the one penciled by young team member Paul Hoste.
Hoste's futuristic design is an ultra-low, race car-inspired vehicle that's vaguely reminiscent of the Gran Turismo vision that Chevy came up with across town. The Tomahawk doesn't have the skeletal body of the Chaparral 2X, but it does have a central single-seat cockpit, "pinched waist" silhouette, and extreme aerodynamics kit with a massive front splitter, cavernous side slashes and oversized rear vents. The advanced aero package manages downforce, drag and yaw force. By relying on "emerging and advanced" materials like hollow carbon nano-fibers and micro-lattice graphene, SRT lists weight at a feathery 1,658 lb (752 kg).
Below its light, voluptuous, air-hungry body, FCA's engineering team has outfitted the car with a unique theoretical hybrid powertrain meant to "push performance just beyond the limits of known science." It all starts with a wide-angle (144-degree) mid-mounted V10 engine positioned to keep the center of gravity as low as possible. That engine sends up to 2,168 hp (1,617 kW) to the rear wheels. The front wheels are powered separately by a pneumatic drive that boosts overall output to a total of 2,590 hp (1,931 kW), absolutely blowing away today's breed of 1 hp:1 kg megacars in terms of power-to-weight with 3.44 hp per kg or 1.56 hp per pound.
"We had fun stretching our minds to create the SRT Tomahawk Vision Gran Turismo for GT6," Mike Shinedling, advanced concepts manager at SRT Engineering, recounts. "The game places a high emphasis on capturing reality in a virtual environment; our goal was to respect that philosophy by focusing on plausible future technologies that could achieve our vision of extreme performance."
The Tomahawk's pneumatic system controls more than just the front wheels. Compressed air is used to adjust the nine active aerodynamic panels for increased traction, braking and cornering performance. A forward-directed laser scanner analyzes the pavement ahead, prompting the aerodynamics to adjust accordingly. The pneumatic system also adjusts tire pressure, air spring settings and the lean of the tire active camber system to meet the changing demands of the ground below. During particularly extreme maneuvers, the system inflates the driver's G suit.
Both the air tanks and delivery tubes are integrated into the chassis construction. The tanks are refilled by regenerative braking and via excess power created by the V10 engine and detected in the form of wheel slip.
Interestingly, FCA has gone beyond just designing a single car and developed three trim levels of Tomahawk. It's the range-topping Tomahawk X "experimental technology ultimate version" – so basically a hypothetical prototype version of a futuristic fantasy video game car – that offers the full 2,590 hp and a crazy-ridiculous top speed of 404 mph (650 km/h). This version requires that the driver wear the G suit. Below the X is the GTS-R race car, which uses a more modest 1,450-hp pneumatic-hybrid powertrain and has a decreased weight of 1,459 lb (661 kg). The GTS-R's top speed is "only" 300 mph (483 km/h). The basic Tomahawk S has lower power (1,007 hp) and more weight (2,026 lb/919kg), creating a top speed we could actually believe – 250 mph (402 km/h).
We appreciate automaker creativity in designing these virtual concept cars, but the numbers have moved into the realm of sheer ridiculousness. Seems like only a matter of time before some manufacturer comes out with a 500-lb (227-kg) wheeled fuselage built from carbonized feathers and powered by a 10,000-hp jet engine fueled with unicorn poop. Top speed: over 1,000 mph (1,609 km/h).
While the SRT Tomahawk may not mean anything for actual drivers and car fanatics, it should be a dream to drive in Gran Turismo 6. It'll be available in the coming weeks, and gamers will have to complete challenges to gain access to the different trim levels.