What's New for 1998
A totally redesigned GS 300 appears for 1998. Featuring the familiar inline-six engine of the previous model in the GS 300, or an overhead cam V8 with continuously variable valve timing in the GS 400, the new cars lives up to the promise of providing serious fun in an elegant package.
Last year's GS300 was an attractive car with an inviting interior. It was, however, supposed to be Lexus's sport sedan, a mission it couldn't fulfill when saddled with its rather large size and underpowered engine. Article after article in enthusiast rags would call it a comfortable, competent handler that was seriously lacking a real motor.
Lexus is not content to take much flak over the competitiveness of their products. This became obvious last year when they redesigned their ES300 to best in class levels after a few years of hearing it called a glorified Camry. It was no surprise, then, when we heard that Lexus was planning a dramatic improvement for their midlevel sport sedans.
What did surprise us was the level of improvement that the new car has received. While retaining the same basic outline as its predecessor, the new GS cars are considerably more attractive. A beautiful quad headlight front end sweeps back into the hood and fenders in much the same manner as Mercedes' E-Class cars. Short front and rear overhangs give the GS a very sporty look, and the tidy hindquarters convey an impression of agility.
The appearance of the car is supported by improvements to the drivetrain, the area that the GS 300 received the most criticism about in the past. The GS 300 is available with a 3.0-liter 225-horsepower inline-six engine and comes standard with antilock brakes, all-speed traction control, and Vehicle Skid Control (VSC). Vehicle Skid Control is designed to measure the degree of steering wheel angle and compare it to the car's direction. If it detects a serious difference, it will employ one or more of the car's antilock brakes to put the car back on the driver's intended course.