On the other hand...
No one is forcing you to immediately upgrade each car to the max -- i've raced a couple of races with an almost standard one, which was a nice challenge. Granted, racing tires are required (35k?) if you want to stand a chance when trying to make any corner on the track.
That approach will give you the best of both worlds: a nice challenging race, and you're left with more money since you're not doing the level3 weight reduction, level3 engine thinger, etc. on all your cars.
What i'm reading in other reviews, in a similar way to damage, is that AI will get better as you progress through the game. Haven't experienced that myself, currently a level 11 driver.
I'm hoping that small things (do i see some buttons here and there in the GUI that are currently switched off?) can be 'relatively easy' (end-user speak here...) switched back on. If so, the gear box ratios could possible be made accessible through a patch.
Yeah, it's a downer not being able to drive 80% of the cars from within the car -- even a generic 'inside view' would be most welcome.
And regarding load times -- 30 secs to load a track for a race in my opinion is not too bad. Fifty mins for a pre-game install (+patch) is a bit much though. What's even more galling is that the screen happily says that it would take around 20mins... Expectation management anyone? On the other hand... 5 years instead of two ;-)
Granted, last time I played GT was on a PS2 (GT2), so I'm just totally happy -- bought a PS3 for this game alone.
Karting: fun. Nascar: wow. Nurnburgring: yaay!
One more last gripe: the complaining about screen tearing, etc. Is that really so much of an issue? So far during racing i haven't noticed. Too busy remembering the ideal race line through all corners. I do understand that when you make screenshots, these may not look perfect. But is that the ultimate goal of this game? Or the experience of speed, racing and gameplay? I'm sure the graphics engine is tuned towards providing the racer with the best impression of speed possible -- not the readers of magazines who want to drool over screenshots.