Posted by Alex on November 15, 1998 at 16:44:37:
In Reply to: '99 328i vs. Lexus GS300 posted by Ben on November 15, 1998 at 15:36:52:
The Lexus GS has been praised by all autombile magazines as a great car tha has an excellent interior, nice design, comes with the typical great Lexus quality control, etc, etc. The new BMW E46 328i on the other hand, is what we all here term a "real driver's car". This car is usually bought by most of us here in the forum in the manual transmission form. This makes a big difference between the 328i and the GS300. The GS is auto only. So if you want an automatic car with lots of standard luxuries such as moonroof, supple leather, wood, heated seats, luminescent dash dials, and other luxo stuff. If you are comparing these cars, you car comparing apples to oranges. The GS is obviously much bigger and roomier than the E46 328i and the car that is more equivalent to it would be the ES300, not the GS300 in terms of room, HP, interior room, and price. I have driven both of these Lexus' and found them to be extremely smooth, and at the same time, extremely boring cars to drive.
The GS300 to me looks better than most Japanese cars in that price range, but still is very much a Japanese-looking car. Those rear lights with the extra 2 small round light are downright ugly and I am very happy I did'nt even consider it before ordering my 99 E46 323i. Some car designs grown on you over time. I think the GS series of one of those designs that initially look good. But as time goes by, you begin to dislike more and more. Unfortunately, the Japanese cars rarely come up with a timeless design (maybe the NSX could be an exception, maybe).
The Germans on the other hand, are famous for making car designs that last over years and years and people still appreciate them when they see them. I will give you some examples such as an 9 year old Mercedes Benz SL, or a 12 year old Porsche 911. These car are classic looking. Look at an 8 year old Lexus ES250 and tell me honostly if this car still does anything for you versus a 86 Mercedes 300E, both in mint condition.
People buy Japanese cars because they are damn reliable, very comfortable, drive very brainlessly, and conform to society's tastes of 6 cupholders, and have a drive that "isolates" you from driving instead of involving you. Your typical Japanese luxury car buyer does not care about great handling, of-the-line performance, slalom figures, sweet exhaust notes, and other things that German cars are famous for. Let's not forget that cars such as Mercedes and BMW have been the the forefront leaders of safety technology in the last 20 years. Such features as Head Protection System, ABS, and the initial airbags were all introduced by German cars in the auto market.
Your typical German car drivers of such cars as BMW, Porsche, and Audi, do care about fun "spirited" driving, handling, manual tranys, and like cars that do not necessarily conform to every Tom, Dick, and Harry's taste out there.
You need to know what do you want your next new car before you compare makes and models. If are the kind of guy who is a very "relaxed" driver, sipping on your Starbuck's coffee, reading your Wall Street Journal at red lights, and wanting a "cruiser" type of car, then the GS300 is for you and it is a much better deal at $41,000 than a fully loaded BMW E46 328i with a smaller body and less engine power. But as they say, you are "selling out" if you truely enjoy a driver's car with soul , fantastic handling (i.e. M3), sweet engine exhaust, and good old-fashioned stick shift transmissions.
I really feel that if you want a brand new car and you are having a hard time deciding between the 328i and the GS300, you may want to move slightly down to a 323i and save yourself a cool 6 grand a give up a few minor things but still have a great sports sedan that makes you feel "in awe" everytime you take a Sunday drive or even drive it in your regular commute to work.
If you don't mind getting a slightly used sports sedan or coupe, I recommend a used 96-98 M3 and own one of the finest compact sedans ever made for half the price of a new 911 and still a good 6-12 grand cheaper than the GS300.
These are my opinions and of course, do not reflect the ones of other forum writers.
P.S.: The GS300 does not come with everything either for $41000. Even the great Nakamichi stereo is optional and it is very close to the BMW's optional HK in terms of quality and sound.