Sony Honda Afeela Virtual First Drive: Sleuthing for Sony's secrets on GT7

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It's been a little more than a year since Sony and Honda revealed their joint electric car project, the Afeela, and just a couple of months since an updated version of the car was shown at CES. Neither company has gone into great detail about the car parts of the EV, instead focusing on the interior and potential for infotainment. So, when we saw that the car had been added to "Gran Turismo 7," we saw an opportunity to potentially learn more about the guts of the sedan, and maybe even a little bit about how the car drives.

Now obviously, you can't take this little virtual drive too seriously. We can't get a feel for, well, steering feel, through a Playstation 5's DualSense controller, for instance. And as realistic as the Gran Turismo games are, they're still adjusted to be accessible to lots of people and playable with a controller. There are many, many reasons this isn't a super serious road test, and we totally get that. But we thought this would be fun, and could still reveal a little bit about this somewhat mysterious car. So with all the caveats listed out, let's actually get to the car.

Sony Honda Afeela
Sony Honda Afeela

Booting up the game, I hoped that maybe we might find some actual numbers listed. After all, the developers at Polyphony Digital would have to know specs to deliver a somewhat accurate driving experience. And while Polyphony probably knows the numbers, they clearly are following a request from Sony and Honda not to tell those numbers to the player. Horsepower, torque and weight are all left blank. Even purchasing the power restrictor part and playing with it in the settings menu just shows the percentage of power, plus a big blank box where a power curve normally would be.

But there are some areas that reveal a little about the car's performance. For one thing, we have a weight balance, which is 53% front and 47% rear. There's even an estimated quarter-mile time of 12.65 seconds. And then there's GT7's vehicle rating system: performance points. The Afeela has a score of 546.75. Obviously, that number is meaningless without some points of reference. So here's some: There are two Teslas in GT7, the 2012 Model S Signature Performance (single-motor) and the 2023 Model 3 Performance (dual-motor). The Afeela falls between the two, with the 410-horsepower, 4,449-pound Model S at 536.56, and the 531-horsepower, 4,038-pound Model 3 at 582.67.

Sony Honda Afeela
Sony Honda Afeela

That's about all we can glean looking at menus, so it's time to take the Afeela for a spin. I mainly did a couple of laps on the Nürburgring with the Afeela, as well as the Teslas for comparison. We did know that the Afeela had a dual-motor, all-wheel-drive setup, and it feels very much like a conventional all-wheel-drive car. A lot of EVs have opted to use a bigger rear motor than the front motor, lending a rear-drive bias. That doesn't feel like what the Afeela has. It doesn't feel like it wants to hang its tail out much, either on or off throttle. And adding power just has it holding its line, maybe with a bit of understeer. The slight front bias in weight probably contributes a bit to that feeling, too.

On the long main straight of the 'Ring, the Afeela got up to 145 mph, and that was it. Bringing the Teslas back into the picture, that's 10 mph ahead of the Model S, and 10 mph behind the Model 3. Also worth noting, power seemed to drop off a lot more at higher speeds than in the Model S. So it definitely is down on power. Where the Afeela seems as though it might make up for it could be weight. You can feel that the Teslas are quite heavy, and the shift left to right can be pretty rough. The Afeela doesn't seem to have as violent of a weight transfer, and feels a little easier to slow down.

Again, these are impressions of a car from a video game, played with a controller, and for a vehicle without full specification info and not completely production-ready. Quite obviously, the real car could feel differently in real life. But this is as close as we can get, and we were curious. So far, it seems pretty intriguing, and we're excited to take a turn in the real thing if and when it reaches reality.

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