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Getting Started with Gran Turismo 4

This is a work in progress, content may change at any time. This "Walkthrough" may not be posted on any other sites without my expressed permission. 

When you start the game, you only have Cr. 10,000, which really isn't that much. Even if there are new cars you can buy for this money, it's not likely they'll be much good, and you'll be stuck doing the same easy races over and over just to get some extra money to get some sort of upgrade that will make it easier to win more races. Well, fear not. Here's a guide for one way to get started in Gran Turismo without being stuck in the Sunday Cup.

You have two options: You can take the B and A license tests, and go with one of the free cars that you get from that, or you can buy a used car.

Scoring all bronze on the B Licenses will get you a Volkswagen Lupo1.4 '02. This isn't a bad car at all, but if you want to go for something else, you can sell it for about Cr. 3,300.

Scoring all bronze on the A Licenses will get you a Pontiac Sunfire GXP Concept '02. This is a decent FF car, and you could use this to start (and we'll look at that later on). It has 183HP, which is a lot more than the Lupo, and more than what we'll get when we go shopping for a used car.

Time to go shopping for a used car, and see what we can find. Since there are so many more Japanese used cars to be found, it might be an idea to check and see what races you can do in the Japanese Hall. Some of those races are fairly easy, and once you've gotten a few wins in the Beginner hall, you might want to look at the Japanese Compact Car Cup or perhaps the Japanese 80's Festival or 90's Challenge. So, let's plan ahead a little, so that we can invest our hard earned money into one car that'll help us win a few races. Also look at the individual manufacturers, as there are Make-specific races available for most of them. Honda has a Civic race, Mazda has a Roadster cup for its Miatas, and Mitsubishi has the Evolution Meeting for their Lancer Evolution cars. All of these are races that you should be able to win fairly quickly. And, for what it's worth, if you won the Lupo, there's a Lupo cup you can compete in as well as the Euro Hot Hatch League. So, there are options for that car as well.

We need a car that handles well, and can quickly be upgraded to win to bring in some money for more upgrades. The Historic Showroom has an old Honda Civic 1500, '83 model for a little over Cr. 4,000. It's a front wheel drive car, so it should handle fairly well, it can compete in the Civic race as well as the FF race in the Beginner Hall, and it leaves us with some money for upgrades. Since its short on horse power, we're going to need it...

There's also a Mazda MX-5 Miata, 1989 model available. It has more HP to start with than the Civic, but it costs almost Cr. 6,000, which leaves less for upgrades. But, it has the added benefit of also being eligible for the Spider & Roadster cup in the Beginners Hall. That's one more race we can win without having to purchase or upgrade another car.

Also check out the Used Car Showroom I, you might find something there as well. The Used Car Showroom II has newer cars, but they also cost more money. With some luck, you can find a cheap Honda Civic there, and it has quite a bit more horses than some of the cars available in the Historic Showroom. I found a nice Honda Civic SiR-II (EG), 1992 model, dark green for Cr. 5,670. That'll leave me over Cr. 4000 for upgrades. NOTE: When looking at the car on the list, it says it has 167HP, but when you look at the "paperwork" when purchasing the car, it says 149HP, so keep that in mind when buying your car. I'll go with this one...

Now, first thing we want to do is check the oil. Head over to the GT Auto center, and hit "Oil Change";. Change the oil, t's only Cr. 50, so it's not going to be a major setback, and you'll regain that "lost" horsepower. Next, head over to the Honda dealership and get into the Tune Shop. Spend Cr. 1,000 on the Racing chip. It's a cheap upgrade, and it'll add some HP to your car. We'll spend another Cr. 1,500 on an upgraded Exhaust and Air filter. That'll add a few more HP to your car. And finally, we'll spend Cr. 1,000 on a weight reduction. That should leave us with very little money, but a nice car to get started in.

Head over to the Beginner Hall, and compete in the Sunday Cup. With over 170HP, you should be able to win these races. Don't do what I just did; before you start racing, head into Settings (the red toolbox), and tune your car! There's not a whole lot you can do at the moment, but locate the "Driving Aids" section, and turn down all the values to 1. The ASM and TCS systems will work against you in turns, and you may lose too much speed if you have these at too high a value. If you don't like how your car handles with these values, you'll need to do a little testing. With the defaults of 10 and 7, you may have a hard time on the Special Circuit 5. So, that cost me my perfect winning record, oh well...

The first race is at the Autumn Ring Mini track, and shouldn't be difficult at all. With my Civic, I won with a decent margin, and got a total of 7 A-Spec points for that race. These races only yield Cr. 600, so there's not much you can do with the winnings to begin with. I now have a total of Cr. 1,300 after that win, so I could get a wing for my car, if I wanted to, or perhaps a lighter flywheel. At this point, it's not going to do much for me getting either, so we'll save our money for now, so move on and finish up the remaining races in the Sunday Cup.

Congratulations, you are now the proud owner of an Autobianchi A112 Abarth '79. There's not a whole lot you can do with this car, but you can use it for the Lightweight K-Car cup. With the same upgrades that we got for the Civic, it should be able to be competitive in those races. As well as getting a new car, you should have 3,000 Cr. More (5 races, 600 Cr. each), plus what you may have gotten for re-runs.

The best upgrade at this point would be getting some new tires. But, we can't afford that yet. The S3 tires cost Cr. 5,600, so that's a little too expensive at this point. The second best upgrade would probably be a wing. For Cr. 1,200 you can adjust the downforce on your car, which is definitely a plus. Head over to the GT Auto center again, and pick a wing. All the models perform the same function equally well, it's just a color and design thing, so pick a nice looking wing and buy it. Note that you cannot mount wings on all cars, but you can on the Civic.

Now, back to the Beginner Hall and the FF Challenge. This is going to be a little tougher. Our car may not be good enough to win these races on the first try, but you'll get some money for second place as well, so it beats doing Sunday Cup over and over. Before you start racing, adjust the downforce on your car. A good starting point is 25% downforce on the front, and 75% downforce on the back. Set it to 7 on the front and 21 on the back, and see how that works for you. The first race turned out to be a 47 point race for me. The races in Sunday Cup was only 8 or 9 points, so the difficulty here is a bit higher. It looked a little scary to begin with, but it became clear that the wing did its job so I could keep a higher speed through the turns, and that would give me the win in the end. The 1,500 credits from winning the Mid-Field race more than pays for the wing, and it now seems we may want to get some more power. If you don't have Cr. 4,500 by now, re-do the Mid-Field Raceway for another Cr. 1,500, then head over to the Tuning Shop or the car dealer and get a Stage 1 Turbo upgrade. Then head back to the FF Challenge, and do the Grand Valley East race. With the Turbo upgrade, you should now have about 215HP, which should be enough to win this race. If you don't win on the first try, then try again. Hopefully, you'll win some money, and as soon as you do, get either the sports or the semi-racing flywheel. I spent the 500Cr. for the semi-racing flywheel, and that should help with the acceleration of the car.

I did some acceleration tests on the Las Vegas Drag strip. I did 5 runs without the flywheel and 5 without. I then took the four best times from each and calculated the average. Without the flywheel, the average time was 16.334 seconds. With the flywheel, the time was 16.143 seconds. Not a big difference you say? Well, it's all about having the edge, and the ability to accelerate faster out of a turn than your opponents may mean the difference between winning and coming in 4th.

Stay away from the Hong Kong track for now. This Honda doesn't have the power to outrun the opponents, and its high center of gravity doesn't make it easy around those corners on the city streets. Good tracks to do initially in the FF Challenge would be the Mid-Way Race track and the Grand Valley East. After winning those two races, it may be time to consider some other options. The Civic Race should now be within your grasp, at least you should be able to win one or two of these races. Head over to the Honda Dealer, and pick the One-Make Races, and the pick the Civic Race. The price for winning here is Cr. 5,000, and even if you come in second, you'll still get more than from winning the FF Challenge. We did the Mid-Field race in the FF Challenge, so re-do it here. It's a fairly simple track, and our 200+HP Civic should be able to compete here. After winning this single race, I got about Cr. 6,000, which I could use on an upgrade. The question now becomes, which upgrade to get.

So, here's our problem: We need more power, better tires, a better suspension system and better brakes. Not necessarily in that order, but that's still a lot of expensive upgrades.

Power upgrades for the Civic would be either a Level 1 NA upgrade or a Level 1 Turbo. Both cost about Cr. 4,500, and the turbo will give you the highest power boost, but that power may only be available at higher RPMs. The NA upgrade may not give you as big increase in HP, but that power is available regardless of your RPMs. And, we already got the Level 1 turbo upgrade, and the next one is Cr. 12,500, which is out of our range at the moment.

As you may have noticed when driving, even with the wing, your car will slip and slide quite a bit. Better tires will help with this, but the S3 tires, which are softer than the S2 tires the car comes with, cost Cr. 5,600, and that's a lot of money, at least at this point in the game. But, you'll need those tires once you start doing races outside of the Beginners hall, so keep that in mind.

There are 4 different suspension systems. If you go to the manufactures tuning shop, you'll only get 3, but the 4th is available from the Tuning Village. This option appears to only be available to Japanese cars. At this point in the game, your only affordable option is the Sports Suspension. With this, you can adjust the ride height of the car, as well as the shocks and camber angle. A slight adjustment on the camber angle may help you turn and also even out the wear on the tires. Adjusting the front and rear shocks will also change how your car handles in turns and when going over curbs. Lowering the ride height moves the center of gravity down, and reduces the effect of weight shifting during turning, which in turn means higher speeds through turns. Just don't set it too low, or the car may hit the ground going over bumps/curbs, or the tires may hit the wheel well.

The sports brakes are also an expensive upgrade at about Cr. 4,500. These brakes greatly improve your braking power, meaning your car will stop a lot faster than with the standard brakes. With this upgrade, you should be able to outbrake all your opponents at the cost of some extra tire wear.

Drivetrain upgrades help with acceleration, mostly. An improved clutch will reduce power loss during gear changes, but at the beginning stages of the game, the gain here may be miniscule, so you may want to save your money for something else. A lightweight flywheel will improve your acceleration. Since this reduces the weight of the drivetrain, less torque will be used on the drivetrain itself, making it available for wheels instead. BUT, there's a cost. A lightweight flywheel has less momentum, so you may lose speed when going uphill, especially with low-powered vehicles.

I already got the Turbo and the flywheel, I'll get the suspension now. The Sports suspension costs Cr. 3,000, so that's within our price range. Once that is equipped, head back to the Civic Race to compete in some of the other races. Before starting any race, remember to go into settings to make changes to your suspension. First order of business is to lower the ride height. I'm going to lower it to 130mm (down from 138mm), and add 2.5 to both the front and the back Camber Angle. Then it's off to race on the Twin Ring Motegi - East Short Course. With these settings, this is a 7 point race, which shouldn't be too much of a challenge. Just be careful, as there are several tight corners on this track, and if you go too fast, you'll end up in the dirt. Once that race is won, move on to the Autumn Ring Mini. There are a lot of curves here, so watch your speed in those corners. This should be another 7 point race, but that doesn't necessarily mean easy. If you don't win the first time around, try again. Now, finish up the two remaining tracks of the Civic race, and you'll have a nice lump of money and a free Honda Mugen Motul Civic Si Race Car '87. Now, you can choose to continue with your regular Civic or use the race car you just won. The advantage of the race car is that it comes with all the good parts, so don't have to spend any money on that. You will, however, need to buy some sports tires as it comes with racing tires which are not allowed in many of the beginner races. The race car has more barely more HP than your old Civic, and if you need more, you'll have to get the level 2 upgrades, which will cost you about Cr. 15,000. For now, I'm going to continue with the old Civic, but now with a set of new S3 tires. And back to the FF Challenge we go...

Now that we have better grip and better suspension, we can finish up the three remaining races in the FF Challenge. Save the Hong Kong race for last, as that might be the most difficult one to win. Don't make the mistake of thinking that you'll be glued to the track, because it's not so. Your grip will be improved, so you will have better braking, better acceleration and better control during turning, but you still need to watch your entry speed. If you are worried about your winning ratio, then perhaps you'd want to save before the Hong Kong race. It's not an easy race to win the first time around... The biggest threat in the Hong Kong race appears to be the Mitsubishi Eclipse GT '95. It has a high top speed, but the Civic will outbrake and outcorner it, so that's how to beat it. And, once you get in front of it, it sort of loses its' interest altogether and the race is pretty much over at that point.

Congratulations, you should now have completed the FF Challenge, and that'll earn you a Mazda Mazda6 Concept '01.

Time for some fun. Complete the A license test, then get in the Honda Civic race car you won in the Civic Race and head for the Special Events Hall. Enter the Capri Rally (easy), and win both of the races. You can win these races without buying any upgrades for the Civic Race car, just remember to tune your car a little. Change the traction control settings to 5, 5, 3, and set the Shock Bound to 4 and 4. That should improve the handling of the car. There's a couple of things to keep in mind here:

1) Don't rear-end the other car and don't slam into walls. There's a 5 second penalty, which means you have to drive for 5 seconds in 1st gear!

2) There are two jumps on the course. You don't want to go much over 65MPH over those jumps, as you will have no control over your landing. If you land too close to a wall, you'll end up slamming into it, and there's your 5 second penalty.

Each win will give you Cr. 5,000, and the best part of all, you'll win a Toyota RSC Rally Raid Car '02. You can sell this car for over Cr. 250,000, and since you can win this car over and over, your money problems are forever gone!

The Toyota RSC Rally Raid Car is a fairly powerful 4WD car. You can keep it around and use it to win the 4WD Challenge and the Turbo Sports race in the Pro Hall without having to get any upgrades for it. At least for the 4WD Challenge, this is no challenge at all with this car. It simply blows all the competition away. But, it's a quick (and free!) way of winning another car.

Back on track with the Civic, the next step is the Japanese 90's Challenge. In order to have a shot here, we're going to get the Level 2 Turbo upgrade. That's going to cost a whooping Cr. 12,500, but since we just won Cr. 10,000 in the Capri Rally, that's affordable. With that upgrade, and a port polish, we're now sporting 260HP. Winning all the races here will give you a Nismo 400R '96. Looks like a nice car, I haven't driven it yet. It's a 4WD, so we can try that in the 4WD race later.

For now, we've pretty much maxed out what we can do with our original Civic, without going to the Professional Hall. So, we need to look at what to go for next. There's still a few races left in the Beginner Hall, as well as a few in the Japanese hall, so let's take a look at our options. We need something for the Japanese 80's Festival and the Japanese Compact Cup. That means a relative small and older car. Back in the Beginner Hall, we need something that can compete in the Spider & Roadster race as well as an FR or MR car. If we can find a car that'll fit all these, then that's less cars we have to buy. And, since the Mazda MX-5 Miata fits all those, plus it can do the Miata one-make cup, it sounds like we should look for a used 1980-something Miata.

Heading to the Historic Showroom, I can find only one Miata. It's an 89 model with almost 41,000 miles on it, and it'll cost me almost Cr. 6,000. But, I need it, so I'll get it. First thing we need is new oil, so head to the GT Auto center and get an oil change to get your HP back. While we're here, let's add a wing. Since this is the last car I need to buy for a little while, I can spend most of my remaining Cr. 25,000 on this car. Stage 1 weight reduction will cost Cr. 1,000, the Racing Chip is another 1,000, a stage 2 Turbo will cost Cr. 12,500, and that'll bring the HP up to 194. The Semi-racing exhaust upgrade is another 2,800 and a sports flywheel will cost Cr. 400. That still leaves Cr. 8,500 in the bank. Try the car out on the Japanese 80's Festival. It's a 40 point race (at least that's what it told me), and you might just win it. If you didn't get the suspension, you would notice that this car is bouncing all over the place. With the Cr. 3,000 from this win, we can get both the suspension and the S3 tires and still have enough left for lunch...Head back to the 80's Festival, remember to lower your ride height and equip those softer tires before racing. I lowered the ride height to 119mm (from 128), and set the camber angle to 2 in the front and 1.5 in the back. Also set the downforce to 7 and 21, and the driving aids to all 5's. I ran into some trouble winning the last race in that series, so I also purchased the Close transmission. That, along with tuning down the HP on the car to 198HP by using the Sports Exhaust rather than the Semi-Racing exhaust put me in a different classification, and the added acceleration from the close transmission appears to have given me the edge I needed to win it. I spent a lot more money than I hoped for, but such is Gran Turismo.

Once you've won the Japanese 80's Festival, you'll get the Mitsubishi HSR-II Concept '89 car.

Next, head to the Mazda dealer and enter the One-Make race. With this car, you should be able to win the NR-A Roadster cup. This is a championship race, so you'll get points based on how you place in the race. With 5 races, you can get a maximum of 50 points, and you don't actually have to win every race to win the championship. When doing championship races, you also get the option of a "practice" session. That allows you to race around the track in search of the best lap time. With the best lap time, you get pole position, so there's no starting at the back any more. It also means you can familiarize yourself with the track and fine-tune your car.

In addition to the individual winnings from each race (Cr. 3,000), you get Cr. 15,000 for winning the championship, plus a Mazda MX-Crossport '05.

Next, let's do the Japanese Compact Cup. I've removed some of the power upgrades for this race, as well as purchased the Stage 2 weight reduction, the carbon driveshaft and the semi-racing flywheel. In it's current configuration, I got 127HP, and that is plenty to win all the races in this championship. You'll get Cr. 2,000 per race, Cr. 15,000 for winning the championship as well as a 1972 Honda Life Step Van.

Spider & Roadster race. I was starting to think that I had picked the wrong car for this race. With a Stage 2 Turbo and other power upgrades, I thought I would have enough power to outrun the other Roadsters. But I was wrong. The trick to the Roadster race is realizing that power isn't everything, and that less HP may put you in a group with cars that you can actually beat. So, I removed the Turbo, and ended up with 129HP. That put my in the 127HP group, and hopefully I could beat these cars. Looking over the list of opponents, I noticed that the Lotus Elise wasn't on it anymore, so that hopefully meant that I would have a shot. Once I got started, it said this was a 141 A-Spec point race. Now, that sounds like a lot, but it turned out that it was doable. With the S3 tires, the wing and the new transmission, the race was easier than I thought. I overtook the lead car at the curve exiting from the long tunnel at the end of the long uphill straight on the first lap. After that, it was only a matter of keeping the line through the curves and cruise around for another lap.

I am still concerned that perhaps the Miata is not going to be able to win this race. I've spent time and money on different upgrades and tuning, and I can't seem to get something that'll do the trick. This really annoys me, as I know I've beaten this race with the Miata before, but that was a brand new '04 Miata.

Next race of the Miata is the FR Challenge. Do an oil change, and put all the power back on. With the Stage 2 Turbo, Racing chip and Semi-Racing Exhaust, the Miata is packing 201HP, which should be enough to win all the FR Races. They'll come out to between 85 and 95 A-Spec points per race, and once you've won them all, you're awarded with a Nissan Skyline 2000GT-B '67. And that's it for the Miata for now.

Use the Mitsubishi HSR-II Concept '89 car to compete in the 4WD Race in the Beginners hall. It won't give you many A-Spec points, but you'll win without having to buy any upgrades for the car. Prize money isn't that good, but you'll get a free car at the end; the Toyota Motor Triathlon Race Car '04. At this point, it's more of a looker than anything you'd want to drive.

As I pointed out earlier, you can also use the Nismo 400R or the Toyota RSC Raid Rally car for this race and win with a comfortable margin.

Back to the Spider & Roadster race again, you'll need the Full Customize transmission for the Miata to win this race. This will allow you to set the individual gear ratios to something that will give you the acceleration and speed you need to win this race.

There are still the MR Challenge and the Sports Truck race. I suggest waiting  with the Truck Race. You need to buy a truck for this race only, you don't win a lot of money from it, and you win another truck at the end.

For the MR Challenge, start looking for a Renault Clio V6 among the used cars. The one I found cost me about Cr. 25,000, but it was worth it. With this car, you can compete in the French Championship, the Euro Hot Hatch championship and the MR Challenge. Just get the basic upgrades (oil change, wing, racing chip and suspension), and it should be good to go. You can also enter the Clio Cup with this car, but the competition there is hard, so you need to get some more upgrades before going there. But this car should be able to be competitive in some of the races in the Pro hall as well, including the Race of NA Sports and the Tuning Cup.

Small Tuning Guide

Since I've suggested a couple of tuning changes be made to the cars, I'll try to explain what some of them are and what they do.

Downforce.
By adding a wing to a stock car (race cars comes with wings already), you can adjust the front and rear downforce. Adding downforce will push the car down towards the ground, which helps with traction. More traction translates into more braking power, less spinning wheels when accelerating, better turning and a higher speed during turning. On the flip side, more downforce causes more drag which literally sucks the power out of your car. This means
a lower top speed. The 25/75 settings that I've used gives you a little downforce in front to keep those front tires on the ground, and more on the back to ensure that the car doesn't spin out. For a FF car, you can reduce the downforce in the back, but you may want to test it before entering a race. Also, these are suggestions, and not rules written in store. Experiment a little and find the settings that are best for you and your driving style.

Ride height.
By lowering the car, you are reducing the airflow under the car. This reduces drag and also helps keep the car down on the ground, which in turns helps on traction. The downside is if you move your car down too far. You then risk having the bottom of the car hit the ground when going over bumps or curbs. You also risk having the wheels hit the wheel wells if/when you hit a bump. Setting it at 10% is a decent guideline. You can try setting it lower and see how that goes, but what works on one track may not work on another. Also, if you tend to go over the curbs or rumblestrips, you risk bottoming out.

Camber angle.
The Camber angle lets you tilt the wheel slightly, so instead of the tire standing up perfectly vertical, it's angled a little in (or out) along its vertical axis. This is done to increase the surface that is touching the ground during turning and also makes tire wear more consistent over the whole surface of the tire.

TCS and ASM
These are tools designed to reduce slipping of tires during acceleration (TCS) and turning (ASM). Basically, when the computer detects slipping tires, it will attempt to correct this by reducing throttle (TCS) or reducing the RPMs (ASM) so that the tires can regain grip. This can help you avoid spinouts, and also prevents excessive tire wear. But, it also slows you down! You are better off learning how to brake before entering a turn, how to brake during a turn and how to accelerate. The controls are analog, so you don't have to give 100% throttle all the time.

1999 - 2005 Lars M. Hansen