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A grand tourer (Italian: gran turismo) (GT) is a performance and luxury automobile capable of high speed and long-distance driving. The most common format is a two-door coupé with either a two-seat or a 2+2 arrangement.
The term derives from the Italian phrase gran turismo, a tribute to the tradition of the grand tour, used to represent automobiles regarded as grand tourers, able to make long-distance, high-speed journeys in both comfort and style.
The terms "grand tourer", "grand turismo", "grand routiere", and "GT" are among the most misused terms in motoring. The grand touring designation generally "means motoring at speed, in style, safety, and comfort." "Purists define "gran turismo" as the enjoyment, excitement and comfort of open-road touring.
The grand touring concept is Eurocentric; the definition implies material differences in performance at speed, comfort, and amenities between elite automobiles and those of ordinary motorists. In post-war United States, the Interstate Highway System and wide availability of powerful Straight-six and V8 engines rendered the original meaning obsolete. European GT's did find success penetrating the American personal luxury car market, notably the Mercedes-Benz SL-Class.
According to one author, "the ideal is of a car with the ability to cross a continent at speed and in comfort yet provide driving thrills when demanded" and it should exhibit the following:
- The engines "should be able to cope with cruising comfortably at the upper limits on all continental roads without drawbacks or loss of usable power."
- "Ideally, the GT car should have been devised by its progenitors as a Grand Tourer, with all associated considerations in mind."
- "It should be able to transport at least two in comfort with their luggage and have room to spare — probably in the form of a two plus two (2+2) seating arrangement."
- The design, both "inside and out, should be geared toward complete control by the driver."
- Its "chassis and suspension provide suitable handling and roadholding on all routes" during travels.
Grand tourers emphasize comfort and handling over straight-out high performance or ascetic, spartan accommodations. In comparison, sports cars (also a "much abused and confused term") are typically more "crude" compared to "sophisticated Grand Touring machinery." However, the popularity of using GT for marketing purposes has meant that it has become a "much misused term, eventually signifying no more than a slightly tuned version of a family car with trendy wheels and a go-faster stripe on the side."
Historically, most GTs have been front-engined with rear-wheel drive, which creates more space for the cabin than mid-mounted engine layouts. Softer suspensions, greater storage, and more luxurious appointments add to their driving appeal.
GT abbreviation in marketing
The GT abbreviation is popular across the automotive industry, because of its positive associations with wealth and style. Many vehicles that are not actually gran turismo use this appellation to increase sales.
Among the many variations of GT are:
- GT (Gran Turismo) a two-door coupe. For example, Toyota GT86, Alfa Romeo GT, and Bentley Continental GT.
- GTO (Gran Turismo Omologata) a homologated car for racing (used by Ferrari, Pontiac and Mitsubishi, as well as Donkervoort). Examples include Ferrari 288 GTO, Ferrari 250 GTO, Pontiac GTO, and Mitsubishi GTO.
- GTS (Gran Turismo Spider) a convertible version. For example, the Ferrari 348 GTS, Ferrari 308 GTS, and Ferrari 365 GTS/4.
- GTS (Gran Turismo Sport) a four-door sedan. For example, the HSV GTS.
- GTS (Grand Tourisme Spécial) used by Renault in their mid-range variants of the "numeric" models, such as Renault 19 GTS
- GTB (Gran Turismo Berlinetta) a coupe style GT. For example, the Ferrari 328 GTB.
- GTV (Gran Turismo Veloce) a "fast" version. For example, the Alfa Romeo GTV6.
- GTi (Gran Turismo Iniezione) or Grand Tourer Injection - a fuel injected version. First used on the 1961 Maserati 3500 GTi
- GTI — Volkswagen Golf GTI
- GT/E or GTE ("Einspritzung" — German for (fuel) "injection") used on the Opel Manta GT/E, and Vauxhall performance vehicles, such as the Astra and Nova GTE
- GTE (Grand Touring Estate) An estate wagon GT. For example, the Reliant Scimitar GTE.
- GTX (Grand Tourisme Xtreme) used by Renault on their top-of-the-range sports variants of the "numeric" models, example the Renault 21 GTX
- GTA (Gran Turismo Alleggerita /Automatic), for example:
- GTAm (Gran Turismo Alleggerita Modificata) a modified, lightened model such as the Alfa Romeo GTAm
- GTC can have various meanings, for example:
- GTD (Gran Turismo Diesel), used by Volkswagen in sport-oriented Golf version and Peugeot in lowered Diesel 505 models
- GTR or GT-R, (Gran Turismo Racing), as in the McLaren F1 GTR, Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR, Nissan Skyline GT-R, and Nissan GT-R
- HGT (High Gran Turismo), used by Fiat for sport-oriented versions of some of its models
Grand tourers in racing
The term grand tourer, or gran turismo, is sometimes used for race versions of sports cars (even those not fitting the definition provided above) that take part in sports car racing, including endurance races like the 24 Hours of Le Mans, 12 Hours of Sebring, Petit Le Mans, Mille Miglia, Targa Florio, Spa 24 Hours, Bathurst 12 Hour, and Carrera Panamericana.
Examples of race grand tourers include:
- AMC AMX 
- Aston Martin DBR9
- Audi R8
- Bentley Continental GT
- BMW Z4 GT3
- BMW M3 GTx
- Chevrolet Corvette C6.R
- Dodge Viper GTS-R
- Ferrari 458
- Mazda RX-7
- Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR
- Ford GT
- Porsche 911 GT3
- Ferrari 550
- Ferrari F40
- Nissan Skyline GT-R
- Nissan GT-R
- McLaren 650S GT3
- Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3
- Saab 93/Saab GT750
- Saleen S7
In some professional motorsport classifications, such as the Grand Touring categories promoted by the FIA, the GT car is defined as an open or closed automobile with no more than one door on each side and at least two seats, one on each side of the longitudinal centre line of the car; these two seats must be crossed by the same transversal plane. This car must be legal to drive on the open road, and adapted for racing on circuits or closed courses.
GT cars are divided, from most powerful to least powerful, into GT1 (formerly GTS and GT) and GT2 (formerly GT and N-GT) in most championships, although the ACO has canceled further GT1 involvement not only in the 24 Hours of Le Mans but in every other Le Mans Series (LMS, ALMS, ILMC, JLMC) sanctioned by the ACO. This only left room for GT1 cars to race in the FIA GT1 World Championship, while in turn GT2 cars only competed in ACO sanctioned event due to the absence of the FIA GT2 European Championship. GT3 and GT4 class cars also have their own championships, as well as being eligible for several National GT championships.
Grand touring car tires
The term grand touring is used amongst manufacturers of tires to describe all-season tires that are designed to have higher performance and handling capabilities than a regular passenger car all-season tire with a smoother, more luxurious ride than a performance tire. Most D-segment and larger cars sold in North America come with grand touring tires as original equipment.
Examples of grand tourers
A true grand tourer is a luxury or performance vehicle intended for long-distance spirited travel in both comfort and style. The placement of "GT" on an automobile does not necessarily classify it as a "grand tourer." Some examples include:
- AC Frua
- Alfa Romeo GTV (1960s–2005)
- Alfa Romeo GT
- Alfa Romeo Brera
- Alfa Romeo Montreal
- Aston Martin DB2
- Aston Martin DB Mark III
- Aston Martin DB4
- Aston Martin DB5
- Aston Martin DB6
- Aston Martin V8
- Aston Martin DB7
- Aston Martin DB9
- Aston Martin Vantage
- Aston Martin DBS
- Aston Martin Virage
- Aston Martin Vanquish
- Bentley Continental GT
- Bentley Brooklands Coupé (2008–2011)
- BMW 6 Series
- BMW 8 Series
- Cadillac XLR
- Chrysler TC
- Citroën SM
- Facel Vega Facel II
- Ferrari 250GT
- Ferrari 550 Maranello
- Ferrari 575M
- Ferrari 612 Scaglietti
- Ferrari Daytona
- Ferrari California
- Ferrari F12 Berlinetta
- Ferrari FF
- Ferrari GTC4Lusso
- Fiat Dino
- Iso Grifo
- Jaguar E-Type
- Jaguar XJS
- Jaguar XK
- Jensen 541S
- Jensen CV8
- Jensen FF
- Jensen Interceptor
- Lamborghini 350GT
- Lamborghini 400GT
- Lamborghini Espada
- Lamborghini Islero
- Lamborghini Jarama
- Lancia Aurelia
- Lancia Flaminia
- Lexus LC (to be produced from 2017, sales begin in May)
- Lexus RC
- Lexus SC
- Maserati Ghibli
- Maserati Indy
- Maserati Khamsin
- Maserati 3200 GT
- Maserati 3500 GT
- Maserati 5000 GT
- Maserati Coupé
- Maserati GranTurismo
- Mazda Cosmo
- Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing
- Mercedes-Benz CL-Class
- Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe
- Mercedes-Benz SEC (W126 coupe)
- Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe
- Mercedes-Benz SL-Class
- Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren
- Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG
- Mitsubishi 3000GT
- Morgan Eva GT
- Nissan 300ZX
- Nissan Leopard Coupé
- Monteverdi High Speed
- Porsche 928
- Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawk
- Subaru SVX
- Toyota 2000GT
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Media related to Grand tourer racing cars at Wikimedia Commons