Top 10 best grand tourers 2023

Open gallery Close News by Autocar 13 mins read 11 May 2023 Follow @@autocar Share

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.

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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.

1. Porsche Panamera

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.


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Porsche Panamera

Four-seat grand tourer bids to redefine performance in the luxury class

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The regular four-door, four-seat version has a 495-litre boot, with 1263 litres of storage if you fold the rear seats down, and impressive in-car tech and infotainment. However, we prefer the five-door Sport Turismo shooting brake bodystyle, which includes a fifth passenger seat, adds useful boot space and puts a little more notional fresh air between the car’s exterior styling and that of a current Porsche 911, which is no bad thing.

Save money with new Panamera deals from What Car?

2. Alpina B3

You might look at an Alpina B3 and simply see just a BMW 3 Series. And to some owners, that will be exactly the point of an Alpina. It’s a personal pleasure, one to be enjoyed by the owner and driver, a car that is less showy than BMW’s own take on a fast 3 Series, the BMW M3.

Alpina takes a BMW M340i (saloon or Touring estate), complete with its four-wheel drive system, and inserts an Alpina-specific version of the M3’s S58 3.0-litre straight-six turbo engine and installs its own suspension. That includes a wider track, a number of unique components, different geometry settings and bespoke Eibach springs. The dampers and steering are standard M340i, but with Alpina’s own settings.

The result is something that is slightly softer and less immediate than an M3 but surpasses it as a GT because, in broad terms, the B3 Touring is easily one of the most capable cars ever made. Day in, day out, whatever the weather, there’s almost no question to which it doesn’t provide an enthusiastic, convincing answer.

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