What does ‘GT’ mean? It could be a trim level on a Kia, or it could be a hardcore, track-focused version of a Porsche. Historically, however, it stands for ‘grand tourer’, or ‘gran turismo’ if you’re feeling extra fancy.
Quite simply, a grand tourer is a car that you’d be happy driving very long distances in. That means it needs to be comfortable, with supportive seats and a compliant long-distance ride. That’s not enough, though. It also needs to feel special, during the journey as well as when parked up at your destination.
Traditionally, the recipe for a grand tourer would have been a big coupé with a long bonnet housing a large engine. Today, the GT church is far broader, including some elegant four-door cars, and even the odd electric car.
So here are the 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 was launched in 2009. Despite being vulnerable to criticism for its awkward styling, this was a spectacularly well-engineered true driver’s car and an effortless continent cruiser.
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 turbo diesel engine producing 416bhp and 627lb ft of torque that was, in many ways, ideally suited to the car’s long-legged brief. Porsche later removed that version from sale when it abandoned diesels in 2018, but it left a fairly wide choice of engines in the showroom range.
In 2021, this range was tweaked yet again. The 542bhp Turbo model was dropped in favour of an even more powerful Panamera Turbo S variant, whose 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 now kicks out 621bhp. The Panamera GTS model also had its V8 tickled, so that it now develops 473bhp and better fills the gap between it and the Turbo S.
Elsewhere, the remarkable Turbo S E-Hybrid range-topper now has a combined 690bhp from its petrol and electric motors. This isn’t the only low-emissions plug-in hybrid in the range, either. The 552bhp 4S E-Hybrid model is joined by a 456bhp Panamera 4 E-Hybrid variant as well. A selection of twin-turbo V6 engines fill the rest of the range.
At its best, the Panamera blends dynamic driver appeal with distinguishing touring credentials better than any other car of its ilk. It steers with reassuring weight, handles with precision, grips assuredly and accelerates urgently, and although it’s a sizeable and heavy car, it doesn't suffer much for the additional weight of hybrid drive batteries.