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You may have seen it perched on the rear of a good-looking two-door coupe like a late model S550 Ford Mustang: the letters “GT.” However, you might not know that the term GT, or “grand tourer,” is a flexible definition extending to a number of cars from all over the world. So, what makes a car a GT and not a sports car or something else, like the Jaguar XK? 

What does GT stand for?

A 2014 Aston Martin V8 Vantage shows off its GT car side profile.
2011 Aston Martin V8 Vantage | National Motor Museum, Heritage Images, Getty Images

GT stands for “gran turismo,” an Italian term meaning “grand touring.” You might instantly think of long drives on breathtaking ribbons of pavement when you hear it. Frankly, you wouldn’t be wrong. MotorTrend says the original definition was “between a sports car and a luxury car.” However, across countries, cultures, and marques, the words “grand tourer” evolved into a broader term covering many cars.  

To many fans of the style, grand tourers are two-door, powerful coupes with enough comfort and storage to slurp down the miles and cross continents. However, like the fluid term “sports car,” GT is tacked onto four-door sedans, small sports cars, and even electric vehicles (EVs) like the Audi e-tron GT

What is the purpose of a grand tourer?

Even with the flexibility of the term, it’s easy to see the purpose of a GT. First, GT cars have to be a comfortable, even luxurious, means to do everything from joyrides to road trips. Also, a GT has to include an element of sportiness; it has to pack a powerful engine or a sufficient power-to-weight ratio to thrill. 

Publications and enthusiasts everywhere have accepted the flexibility of the terminology. For instance, Autocar celebrates the four-door Porsche Panamera and even the Tesla Model S as some of the best grand tourers on the market. However, even with cars like those, the speed, luxury, and comfort criteria remain; the GT car is a nice way to cover distance.    

What are some modern GT cars?

If you want a classic example of a GT car, you should look at powerful and luxurious coupes. For instance, the Maserati GranTurismo, Jaguar XK, and Aston Martin DBS are timeless examples of modern GT cars; they pack potent engines, space for luggage, and comfort akin to a luxury car. 

Of course, if you want a more affordable example under that same formula, you should look at the 2015 and newer Ford Mustang. The Callum-esque styling cues of the S550 generation Mustang scream budget Aston Martin. However, looking past the ubiquity of the Ford pony car, it fits the classic formula; it has a powerful Coyote V8 engine up front, optional heated and ventilated leather seats, and enough storage space to take a trip. 

Should you buy a grand tourer?

The Jaguar XK is a great example of a GT car, or grand tourer.
2006 Jaguar XK | National Motor Museum, Heritage Images, Getty Images

A grand tourer is the only vehicular option if you want a vehicle to make you feel like Daniel Craig pulling up in the film Casino Royale. Grand tourers marry speed, luxury, and an eagerness to travel. Of course, depending on where you live, you might want an inclement weather-friendly all-wheel drive setup. If that’s your situation, check out something like the Audi A5 Coupe

Frankly, with the flexibility of the term, you might already have a GT car. Scroll down to the following article to read about grand tourers like the Maserati GranTurismo or Jaguar XK!

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