I am just entering the world of game development, starting with the racing genre of games.
Let me clarify that this question is not about car modelling or external detailing; it is about the way a car drives, handles, and the way it feels (how heavy or torque-y it is, or how fast and nimble it is, the way it moves in place when you hit the brakes, etc.) in-game.
I am looking to understand the process game developers take to translate real world car characteristics and physics into in-game cars. I am not talking specifically about simulation games; I'm including even arcade games where driving a muscle car feels very different from driving a tuner, or a sports car, or super and hyper cars.
Questions such as the following arise:
(1) Do developers have get their hands on a car physically in order to be able to map it into an in-game car? When they drive it around, what metrics are they looking to capture so their in-game car can feel as true to the real one?
(2) What if they can't get a physical car, or if the car is a concept with no drivability? What metrics, data and telemetry should the car manufacturer supply in order for the car to be represented in-game?
(3) Within cars of the same kind, such as muscle cars, how do developers ensure that a Ford Mustang, a Dodge Challenger, a Chevrolet Camaro, all feel sufficiently distinct from each other in-game? How do they ensure a Porsche 911 Turbo, a 911 GT3, a 911 GT2 all feel different, just as the real cars do?