There are many cars that claim to be a Grand Tourer or GT but in all of this noise, we aim to clear up the definition of what is a Grand Tourer and maybe even find the best modern GT available new in 2018.
First of all let us break down what Grand Tourer means. Firstly is “Grand” this as described by Oxford dictionary is “Magnificent and imposing in appearance, size, or style.” With this in mind, we immediately think of the elite manufacturers Ferrari, Lamborghini and Bentley, all of these manufacturers have specific GT models so that clears that up. But not everyone can afford these elite manufacturers price tags and that leads us to…
“Tourer”, the word used to describe an adventure travelling from one place to another, whether you're backpacking, on a lads holiday or a girls tour everyone involved is touring. So a Grand Tourer is an extravagant and imposing car that travels from one place to another. Why then do we see the name GT associated with the Volkswagen UP! or the Peugeot 208 Gti? These cars have the GT badge but not the definition.
The first car that springs to our mind is the Bentley Continental GT a car that has been manufactured to the highest standards of luxury and performance with a price tag in excess of £150,000 new and with a width of 2.18m from mirror to mirror and an overall length just shy of 5 metres the car is big and thanks in part to the W12 block at the front the car weighs in excess of 2 metric tonnes. The next car to tick our conventional Grand Tourer box is the Maserati GranTurismo, this car is all GT the imposing style, the desire to always accelerate and the Italian luxury interior makes the Gran Turismo an adequate name.
Looking to the British GT series we welcome the Aston Martin Vantage GT to the list with it’s contrast paintwork and the already stylish nature of the brand the Aston Martin GT has been designed to drive long distances in comfort and to be noticed along the way. Finally the list wouldn’t be complete without a brand that we offer to our customers every day the Mercedes-Benz AMG GT R is a hardtop coupe bearing the badge that is recognised the world over. Although a potentially contradictory vehicle for the list the AMG GT R is designed to be noticed with it’s loud engine and exhaust amplifying technology the GT R has many modern comforts but has been stripped to the bone to make it a more agile and imposing track car this has compromised the cars comfort and can make it difficult to drive for long periods of time on bumpy or uneven surfaces such as British B roads. A fan favourite GT is often the Nissan GT-R often overlooked by the Nissan badge but the GT-R is a giant killer that has set lap records around the Nürburgring and has astonishing stats to support its imposing nature such as the the 195 mph top speed which for a car costing less than £80,000 is almost unjust however the GT-R is not just about uncensored speed the 0-60 time of just 2.9 seconds in the top of the range Nismo is also done in ergonomic reclining Recaro seats while the steering wheel and dash are finished in Alcantara. There is an unruly side to the Nissan GT-R but the cockpit is civilised and comfortable to make long distance Grand Touring a comfortable pass time at blinding speeds.
Although some of the cars on this list may be the most expensive in the range or have been designed for comfort and long distance driving they each have a glaring fault that would stop them making it on to our unconventional GT list below.
We start off with the aforementioned UP! GT, not the most expensive UP! In the series and by no means the Grandest vehicle for its price tag. Although the UP! is one of the most expensive small city cars available on today’s market that is where it was designed to be driven, the long twisting roads of the Stelvio Pass or Snake Pass through the Pennines are not where this car would feel at home. The next car to fall short of the list is the BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer although the size of the car is significant and the BMW badge means that it is one of the comfiest 7-seaters on the market, however, the presence of the Gran Tourer is neither grand or imposing and will struggle to get noticed on long trips. The Vauxhall GTC is included here because despite the VXR variant the association between the Vauxhall badge and our interpretation of GT the GTC VXR feel like the cheaper alternative to the now pre-current Volkswagen Scirocco R, with this in mind the Vauxhall doesn’t fit the meaning of Grand for us.
If the smell of petrol and the sound of an engine is music to your ears then a long drive in a luxury GT sounds like the perfect way to travel to any destination. A Grand Tourer is about the driving experience and for years we have been a fan of the Jaguar XJ with the biggest possible engine available a 3.0 V6 Diesel that is quick enough off the mark but it has every thinkable creature comfort and would often arrive after a day of driving feeling as relaxed as you would after an hours drive. A GT list would not be complete without a sporty coupe or convertible and we have chosen the Fiat Abarth 124 Spider although less popular than the Mazda MX-5 it is based on the Abarth turns more heads and brings the Italian passion to a weekend roadster. With its two doors and soft top roof driving the Abarth is as much an experience day to day as it would be driving around the Italian lakes. The original GTI gave people the fun and the freedom to drive at speed with friends and in moderate comfort and for that the latest GTI with its high-end standard specification including Active Info Display and driver profile selection. The Jacara cloth, heated seats make even winter driving in the GTI a treat. (The Volkswagen Golf GTI is front-wheel drive and therefore would not be considered suitable for the British GT series.) Finally we offer the most recent car to bare the GT badge the Toyota GT86, often described as an enthusiasts car the 86 as known outside of the EU is your typical rear wheel drive, sports coupe, the long wheelbase and reasonable engine give the car plenty of drive, the spacious cabin fits even larger drivers and the style is just enough to make people look up from their phones as you drive by. The GT86 is also available in the Blue Edition, an electric blue for less than £29,000 RRP and a plethora of gadgets and dials to keep you entertained on long journeys.
The length of the journey or the destination isn’t as important as the experience of the drive itself providing you are driving the grandest car and you complete it in style and comfort you can GT, typically a leisure activity for those with plenty of disposable income and a passion for driving. Typically the GT car is driven as fast and for as long as possible before arriving at a critically acclaimed destination where onlookers can marvel at the vehicle. Popular roads to drive a Gran Tourer include the San Bernardino Pass, a high mountain pass over the Swiss Alps between Italy and Germany. America offers the White Rim Road in the Canyonlands National Park, Utah. The Seven Mile Bridge over the Florida Keys gives the impression of driving on the water, Italy boasts the coveted Stelvio Pass. One of the most dangerous and beautifully unique roads to drive is the Guoliang Tunnel in China, where you literally drive through the very edge of the mountain itself. The Hartside Pass in Cumbria’s Lake District has also noted as one the most fun and challenging UK roads to drive with little to average traffic.
Alternatives to the leisure drives are the long distance runs, typically the aim here is to drive the nicest car you can afford as fast as possible to reach the other end in style. Examples of this can be seen on TV shows including Top Gear, Grand Tour and Fifth Gear to name a few, events including the Gumball 3000, Cannon Ball Run and the Great European Rally are a mecca for car enthusiasts to come together and see classic and modern GT cars perform as only a GT can.
We have made our decision on what a GT is but is there anything that we have missed? If you are looking to lease a Grand Tourer, you can speak to one of our friendly private car lease account managers on 01565 880 880 or email Sales[at]allcarleasing.co.uk. One car that is difficult for us to place is the new Kia Stinger, the style and comfort is present, the price tag certainly isn’t cheap compared to it’s rivals but somehow it doesn’t meet everyone’s criteria for a GT. Have your say below is the Kia Stinger a real Grand Tourer?