The classic ‘grand tourer’ might once have been identifiable by the combination of an elegant but surprisingly accommodating coupé bodystyle, a long-striding powertrain, a sporty but compliant suspension tune and an exotic nameplate.
Today, though, we apply that ‘GT’ initialism more widely, to cars as different as four-seater convertibles, mid-engined sports cars, fast hatchbacks and powerful estates.
This top 10 chart, then, is populated by the cars in which we’d most like to drive a long way. Most are fairly exotic, luxurious and desirable; many are at least partly defined by sporting ambition. Most, too, are four-seaters (although not quite all), with plenty of luggage space for a weekend away included.
So what are best four-wheeled, ‘£100,000-and-under’ options on sale right now in which to while away miles in style, at pace, in some luxury – and with a broad smile on your face?
The concept of a four-door Porsche saloon was controversial when the first-generation Panamera launched in 2009. While vulnerable to criticism for its awkward styling, this was a spectacularly well-engineered, true driver’s car and an effortless continent cruiser.
And now freed from some of that initial controversy and much improved for its design, the second-generation Panamera feels like it’s finally cemented its place in Porsche’s model catalogue. We road-tested this car in 2017, powered by a remarkable V8 turbodiesel engine producing 416bhp and 627lb ft of torque that was, in many ways, ideally suited to the car’s long-legged brief. Porsche would later remove the Panamera Diesel from sale when it abandoned diesel engine technology in 2018, however, but left a fairly wide choice of engines in the showroom range.
A remarkable 671bhp twin-turbo V8 performance hybrid is at one end of the spectrum but it’s not the only low-emissions PHEV option, while a choice of turbocharged V6 and V8 motors fills in the rest of the range. True to Porsche’s exacting engineering standards, there isn’t a weak or under-endowed powerplant among them.
At its best, the Panamera blends dynamic driver appeal with distinguishing touring credentials better than any other car of its ilk. It steers with weight, handles with precision, grips assuredly and accelerates urgently; and though it’s a sizeable car and a heavy one, too, when hybrid drive batteries are included, it seldom suffers much for its heft.
The regular four-door, four-seat version has a 495-litre boot, with 1263 litres of storage if you fold the rear seats, and impressive in-car tech and infotainment. We prefer the five-door Sport Turismo shooting brake bodystyle, however, which adds a fifth passenger seat, adds useful boot space too, and puts a little bit more notional fresh air between the car’s exterior styling and that of a current Porsche 911 – which is no bad thing.