In one, plain, simple, to the point word, No. Sorry i had to break it to you like that, and you, at the back there crying, put down your Hotwheels car and pay attention. The thing is if can look beyond the Ps3 rendered tracks and the shiney new user interface what do we have? Is the difference between the 'Standard' cars and the 'Premium' cars all that great, i mean if you squint and turn your head to the side you might just see that they are marginally better as they race around the track, but apart from the fact they have interior views i suspect there was much own trumpet blowing being done to big them up without much to back it up.
The Premium cars do come into their own though during the Photo Travel mode but put a snap of each side by side and you'd be hard pushed to tell the difference at a glance.
I also feel, as i had feared during my playtime with Prologue, that the series had in fact been dumbed down, sure the physics and handling had been improved but the other drivers thus far have not shown any inclination to try and beat me. I am currently at 40% completion, Lv15 and have an iA licence.. that's after a week! i have had GT4 for the best part of 5 years and haven't achieved that much. Not sure what that says really, but to me, right now, GT5 feels like a much smaller experience to the monster that is Gran Turismo 4. Maybe things will change once i start in the Special events, NASCAR, WRC etc and start racing in the Expert Series of races.
The other bugbear that has been knawing at the back of my mind, apart from no changing the wheels on Standard cars, is the lack of options with regards to that intrusive in car HUD and the fact you can't alter the set level of the AI. First off, the HUD, WTF! last time i sat in a car i don't remember lots of data readouts floating around my head as i tried to drive, could we not at least have the ability back to customise it a bit and remove some of the junk. In GT4 i had the thing set to minimal, none of this flashing gear change indicators and lap times or position, just your speed and some other data sat neatly at the bottom of the screen, out of the way. I get that lesser mortals Need this information but it would be nice not to have a red flashing distraction on screen at every corner.
I hope to Grud that once i enter the Expert Series i will get an additional option in Arcade Mode to up the level of the drivers AI, i race in 'A' Professional Level setting and still find it way too easy. In the last GT you had a slider you could adjust to suit your level, and to be honest it didn't need to go much above 100 to provide a decent racing challenge. Are Polyphoney afraid to let people lose at races these days?
Don't know what any of you guys think so far, be interesting to hear what you have to say.