For Top Gear magazine’s 300th issue, we celebrated the best 50 cars over 299 issues: here’s our pick of the best Grand Tourers
The Grand Tourer. It works as a phrase as well as a class of car, which has always been the point, really. It evokes memories of romantic poets sighing by Alpine lakes, of moustachioed, plus-four- clad Edwardian adventurers, of Renaissance paintings carted back to stately homes. No wonder brands such as Bentley and Aston Martin still define themselves – and are defined by – their adherence to the GT code. Comfortable. Fast. Expensive. Refined. Nothing’s changed in 300 issues.
At least as far as the brief goes. What has changed is the democratisation of the class. Mass-market manufacturers are forever trying to take themselves upmarket. Throughout the Nineties, the received way of doing this was to build yourself a ‘luxury’ coupe. Ford, Renault, Vauxhall, Volvo, Honda – they were all at it. The best of them was the Pininfarina-designed Peugeot 406 Coupe. It looked beautiful, came with a super-smooth 3.0-litre V6 and rode like Peugeots used to.