The first time you start a career, you're tasked with driving a test lap. Based on this, the game's Artificial Intelligence recommends a difficulty setting and suggests different levels of driver assistance, although you're free to set your own or try another test lap. Once you're happy with these settings, you're ready for your first race.
You start your career in Tier 1, with only a basic range of cars available for purchase, a modest amount of cash to spend and a handful of races to enter. Invitational Events, in which a car is provided for you, are an opportunity to try something a bit faster, and promotions are earned by collecting stars.
How you win stars depends on your driving style. You can stick rigidly to the racing line plotted on the course and try to overtake cleanly, or ram opponents off the road and slide out of every corner. Both approaches earn points towards those precious stars, and you also win badges specific to precision and aggression, which can be displayed on your profile so online opponents know your style.
Badges can also be earned for special achievements, such as mastering every corner on a circuit. The game logs your best attempt at every single corner, so you can go back and see which sections are costing you precious seconds.
Progressing through the ranks unlocks faster cars and different event types, such as Drift and Time Attack. You're also able to carry out modifications to your vehicles, ranging from basic body kits and engine upgrades to fully-customisable vinyl designs and alloy wheels. For the true petrolhead, there's a comprehensive suite of tuning options.