Microsoft recently announced its newest console at E3 — the Xbox One X — and with it, a racing simulation dubbed “Forza Motorsport 7,” which will run natively at 4K HDR resolution and at 60 frames per second.
With developers constantly pushing graphics and animation to the bleeding edge, it’s no secret releases like Forza Motorsport and Horizon will become some of the more popular racing sim video games.
However, the specs in these games are something we’ve never seen before: 4K HDR resolution at 60 frames per second is currently only available on PCs — and now this technology is coming to individual players’ consoles.
Still — no matter how sharp the resolution, no matter how smooth the graphics, no matter how earth-shattering the sound — a driving sim can’t replace real-life race car driving. Ever driven around on one of those high-speed go-kart tracks? It’s exhilarating!
So maybe you can’t splurge on a Nissan GT-R — few can — but you can make some affordable modifications to your own ride to make it more fun and capable on the road (within the confines of the law, anyway) and on your local track. Here’s what you’ll need to keep in mind:
Don’t think about any upgrades until you equip your ride with durable tires. Truthfully, who cares how much horsepower your engine has if your old tires are balding and would slip right off the racing track. To even think about driving with any real speed or skill requires a set of sticky, capable racing tires to keep your car glued to the asphalt.
Cost: Less than $400
Intake and Exhaust
Next to fuel, airflow is the lifeblood driving your engine’s horsepower. The more air rushing through your intake and out your exhaust, the more power your engine can generate. It’s why engines actually lose power at higher altitudes where the air is thinner.
A cold air intake is an aftermarket intake with a bigger filter that can suck in more air into your engine (it isn’t necessarily colder). Meantime, an aftermarket exhaust system, such as a cat back system, pushes more air out the back.
One doesn’t work well without the other because air will just bottleneck at one end or the other. But once they’re in, that increase in air flow will make your engine more powerful and the exhaust note will be a deeper roar.
Cost: Around $2,000
Want to push even more air through that now-roaring engine? A turbocharger is essentially a really powerful fan that revs up with your engine’s tachometer and pushes a ton of air through your engine’s manifold.
The result? You’ll gain a ton of horsepower and experience that cool whistle noise heard in The Fast and the Furious. Turbochargers themselves won’t cost you too much — less than a $1,000 — but installation is tricky, and paying a mechanic adds up. Still, it’s worth it to experience all that power.
Cost: Less than $1,000
The stock suspension on a Ford Mustang or Chevy Camaro might feel tight compared to other cars, but it’s nothing compared to what you get with a tuned, aftermarket system. Replacing your stock shocks with dual coilovers and a lowered ride height will lessen your vehicle’s center of gravity and completely change how it handles corners.
Sure, you’ll feel every bump on the road, but it’s a small price to pay for a vehicle that now grips the track, thanks to your new suspension. In fact, it might feel like you’re driving a completely new car.
Cost: Less than $1,000