The best car games for your phone

Suddenly find yourself with a lot of time to spare? Here are the most entertaining car-themed apps that you need on your mobile device

Real Racing 3 Porsche Cayman GT4
Gallery15

Whether you’re on the bus to work or just killing time on the couch, here are some of the best mobile games to keep the thumbs and brains of motoring enthusiasts occupied. Not all of these are strictly about racing, mind you. In fact, some of most compelling gameplay comes from the titles that don’t make you drive at all!

Torque Burnout
15

Torque Burnout

Android and IOS
Free

This one's a home-brewed fave, and should make any Aussie petrolhead get a little misty-eyed with national pride. Created by Australian developers Grease Monkey Games, Torque Burnout is not about racing, it's about turning tyres into vapour with as much style as possible and customising some seriously obnoxious burnout cars.

Damage is also modeled - do a big enough burnout and your tyres will pop or your engine will explode... or both! Good wholesome fun.

There's also a healthy selection of real-life Summernats heroes to play with too, not to mention two blue-collar battlers: the VN Commodore and the legendary AU Falcon. It's free to play, however note that the VP and AU are an in-app purchase.

Real Racing 3
15

Real racing 3

Android and IOS
Free

One of the most polished racing games for a mobile device is undoubtedly the latest instalment of the Real Racing series. Produced by the juggernaut that is EA Games (also responsible for Need For Speed Heat), Real Racing 3 boasts crisp, realistic graphics and driving physics that feel faithful to the real thing, and with visual quality that's at least as good as - if not better - than what the Playstation 2 was capable of. The in-car view is especially impressive, given the amount of detail being rendered.

REal Racing 3
15

There's a plethora of different racing disciplines available, from road cars to Formula One, and a huge array of cars to choose from. Being a 'fremium' title means it can be a bit of a grind to get the cars and modifications you really want unless you start spending real-world dollars, but for some people spending a few bucks on this high-end phone game will be worth the extra entertainment it'll bring. That said, it's entirely possible to have a great time in Real Racing 3 without spending a single cent.

It's not exactly Forza Motorsport 7, but it's deeply impressive nevertheless

Burnout Masters
15

Burnout Masters

Android and IOS
Free

It's the official game of Summernats! As such you can expect plenty of tyre-frying action as well as officially-sanctioned virtual representations of the Summernats skidpad, presented in a cute cartoony style that might lack the slicker presentation of Torque Burnout, but the gameplay is still fun and addictive. If you're itching to do a bit of burnout ballet but you can't be arsed getting off the couch, Burnout Masters is perfect. Read our review of Burnout Masters for the full rundown!

F1 Mobile Racing

Android and IOS
Free

With both official F1 licensing and the gaming cred of having Codemasters as its developer, F1 Mobile Racing is one of the most polished mobile racing games available today, with outstanding graphics, authentic sound and all of the big-name drivers, cars, tracks and helmets of the 2019 Formula One season accurately represented. What's more, it's completely free to play. 

Intriguingly it also allows you to participate in special Grand Prix events while actual F1 race weekends are taking place, which is a neat feature for F1 die-hards, while real-time multiplayer is another fairly unique game mode for a mobile racing game. Note, however, that F1 Mobile Racing only works if you're connected to the internet, so it's not really one for those working in remote areas like mining sites, offshore oil rigs, and warships.

There is a 'VIP membership' that unlocks some extra upgrade slots for your car, special paint finishes and greater choice of vehicle upgrade boxes, but at a monthly cost of US$5.99 we're not sure it's worth it. Just enjoy the vanilla version for free.

Torque Drift

Android and IOS
Free

Another one by Grease Monkey Games, Torque Drift delivers huge graphical and vehicle detail for a mobile gaming title, along with faithful recreations of tracks, cars, liveries, and even drift events themselves. Even just browsing the vast menu of branded upgrade parts indicates there's at least one person in the Grease Monkey office with significant subject matter knowledge. 

And that makes for a drift game that not only looks authentic, but feels authentic too. It's great fun throwing your car around and mastering slides, regardless if you're in a weedy Toyota AE86 or Mad Mike's RX-7, and the car customisation gives Need For Speed Heat a run for its money too.

Does the phone version not slake your thirst for sideways action? Good news! A full-blown PC version of Torque Drift is coming and slated for release in the middle of this year.

FR Legends
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FR Legends

Android
Free

A fun drifting game with clean and cartoony 3D graphics, FR Legends has simplified physics that make getting sideways a cinch – but the real challenge lies in linking corners together and getting close enough to the clipping zones so you can earn enough points to unlock new tracks. Plenty of car customisation options here too, with many cars that drift fans will instantly recognise.

Intersection Controller
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Intersection Controller

Android
Free

Ever been stooged by the traffic light cycle and wondered what kind of clown programmed that intersection? Well now you can be that clown! Control traffic lights and regulate the flow of traffic to keep cars out of trouble, with the intersection layouts getting progressively more fiendish the further you get into the game. Finished the game? Make your own maps and unleash your inner town planner!

You’ll need quick thumbs though: the drivers in this game are unbelievably stupid, and will happily plow right into the side of other cars regardless of whether they could see them or not.

Asphalt 9 Legends
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Asphalt 9 Legends

Android and IOS
Free

The cars are accurate representations of their real-life equivalents, but the physics is definitely far from simulation-spec. But that’s okay, because this arcade-style driving game is a fun racing experience with gorgeous graphics and plenty of jumps and vehicular combat to keep you entertained.

Pixel Car Racer
15

Pixel Car Racer

Android and IOS
Free

Another straight-line racing game, the main attraction of Pixel Car Racer isn’t so much in winning races, but in customising the performance and appearance of your car. Its retro-inspired visuals are another endearing facet, and while gameplay is simple (it’s a side-scrolling drag racer where your only real steering control is around picking what lane you want to be in) there’s some joy to be had in building a car that’s entirely unique to you.

Poly Bridge
15

Poly Bridge

Android and IOS
$1.49 (Android), $7.99 (IOS)

There’s zero driving in this one, however you’ll need to design a bridge capable of supporting a variety of vehicles in order to do well in this one. Essentially a basic physics simulator, this will appeal to budding engineers and those looking for a virtual equivalent to a Meccano playset, and the gameplay gets quite challenging later in the game when articulated drawbridges, heavier vehicles and boats get involved.

No, we have no idea why it's so incredibly expensive for Apple device owners.

CSR Racing 2
15

CSR Racing 2

Android and IOS
Free

There’s no need to steer in this one, given it’s strictly a drag racing game, but the challenge of perfectly timing your shifts and maximising the performance of your car through tuning and modifications can be surprisingly addictive. Gorgeous graphics too, not to mention a decent spread of sports cars, supercars and hypercars to race with.

Hashiriya Drifter
15

Hashiriya Drifter

Android and IOS
Free

Another drift game, but unlike FR Legends this one puts an emphasis on visual realism and in-depth modification. You can strip individual parts off your cars (according to the developer, around 100 parts for each car are removable), and the tuning options are very extensive. The drifting is fun, but the customisation aspect is also a big drawcard of this one.

NFS Heat Studio
15

Need For Speed Heat Studio

Android and IOS
Free

A clever marketing gimmick by EA Games to help prime gamers for the arrival of Need For Speed Heat title (which launched in October last year), Heat Studio allows you to customise the visual appearance of a variety of tasty metal from the classic, tuner, muscle and supercar classes. The array of bodykits, aero parts, wheels, brakes and lights is bewildering at times, and on top of that you can also change your car’s ride height to give it the perfect ‘stance’.

Is that not enough? The custom graphics editor gives you the ability to design your own vinyl wrap for your car to make it properly yours, and when you’re all done you’ll be able to upload your creation from your device to the proper version of NFS Heat so you can actually drive it. There's no driving involved, but the customisation process is entertaining in itself. Plus, if you end up buying Heat then applying the visual upgrades you designed in your phone onto your in-game car is pretty gratifying.

Farming Simulator 20 phone
15

Farming Simulator 20

Android and IOS
$9.49 (Android), $9.99 (IOS)

Don't lie, you've always wanted to drive a combine harvester. We feel the same way, and luckily Farming Simulator 20 allows you to plant, cultivate and harvest virtual crops all from the comfort of your bed, lounge, toilet, municipal bus or wherever else you happen to be. It sounds nerdy – and to be honest, it absolutely is – but playing Farming Sim is more akin to pruning a bonsai tree than playing a typical driving game. Driving heavy machinery is just a nice bonus.

Tending to your crops and livestock, earning money, acquiring more farming equipment (you can own up to a whopping 75 tractors, combine harvesters and other farming implements) and buying more paddocks will easily occupy a significant amount of your time though, so be warned. Expensive, but you'll kill time at a frightening rate.

#Drive
15

#Drive

Android and IOS
Free

Charming graphics, a number of iconic vehicles (well, non-branded ‘tributes’) from automotive history and three kinds of terrain give #Drive a strong replayability factor, even though the gameplay conforms to the ‘endless runner’ format that has you driving through procedurally-generated scenery non-stop until you crash or run out of fuel.

The music and voiceover can get annoyingly repetitive after a while, but this is still a decent game for when you just have a few minutes to kill.

 

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