December 20, 2006 - Sony is delivering the ultimate Christmas gift to Japan this year: a free demo of Gran Turismo 5, set for download starting December 24 exclusively via the PlayStation Store. Thanks to Famitsu, we were able to relive our childhoods and get a sneak peak at the gift in advance.

According to the latest issue of the magazine, the demo, titled Gran Turismo HD Concept, will ship with one course and ten cars. The course is the all new Eiger Nordwand, and you'll be able to race it normal and reverse.

The car list has mostly Japanese vehicles, but there are some high profile foreign models in the bunch. Here's the full list:

Suzuki Cappuccino '95

Mazda Eunos Roadster '89

Honda Integra Type R'04

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IV GSR'96

Infinity G35 Coupe

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX GSR'05

Lotus Elise 111R'04

Nissan Sky Liner GT-R V Spec II '94

Toyota Celica GT-FOUR Rally Car '95

Ferrari 599'06

You start the demo off exclusively with the Cappuccino, but by clearing the time attack mode in a pre-set time, you'll be able to unlock the next car. Eventually, you'll unlock a drift trial mode.

The magazine also scored an interview with Kazunori Yamauchi. The Gran Turismo series producer talked about how the demo came about, and what we can expect in the coming year from his hard working team at Polyphony Digital.

Asked to explain why Sony decided to skip out on a retail release for Gran Turismo HD, and instead focus on GT5, Yamauchi admitted that following the Tokyo Game Show, gamers expressed their desire for the full game. He made specific mention of overseas gamers, which means that if you complained on a message board, your voice might have been heard.

Yamauchi spoke vaguely on the relationship between GT5 and GTHD. While not getting into specifics, he stated that his team wants to put both GTHD Premium and GTHD Classic into the new title. Asked if Sony intends on carrying out its ambitious plans for downloadable content, Yamauchi stated that there has yet to be a decision on whether or not to carry the business model over.

On the topic of the GTHD Concept demo itself, Yamauchi revealed that the Christmas Eve download will include Polyphony's next generation driving simulation engine. According to the producer, this engine fixes such areas as drift control and drift angle. As previously announced, the demo won't have online races, but it will offer network rankings separated according to the various cars. Replays from the top ranked players will be available for download, so you can see how the best of the best race.

More downloadable content will become available before GT5's full release. Yamauchi promised a photo mode of some form to become available for download. He wouldn't give a specific time frame.

Yamauchi also promised an official announcement for Gran Turismo 5 before the next Tokyo Motor Show, scheduled for October 27, 2007. We plan on getting close and personal with the GTHD Concept demo until then.