Disc/disc, anti-lock price:$319,400
Lexus GS300/GS400 www.lexus.com
Although the original GS300 was a forgotten car, a ride in its replacement will be quite memorable. This is particularly true of the powerhouse GS400, with its virtually omnipotent V-8. If money is more important than horsepower, the GS300’s inline-6 is still a quick way to travel.
Either way, this car will meet your needs for both comfort and sportiness. The suspension keeps passengers happy until the road begins to twist and curve. Then it’s the driver’s turn to have fun. In the GS400, the five-speed automatic even includes a push-button manual shift mode for more precise control over gear selection. Like the LS400, this car is equipped with VSC and can be optioned with GPS navigation.
The standard feature list is long and complete. Back-lit Optitron gauges carry on the Lexus tradition-entertaining yet splendidly functional instrumentation. The audio system would befit the best of living rooms. Styling is elegant inside and out, with a tactile sensation that lets you know this is among the world’s best cars.
engine size: 3.0, 4.0 lites engine type: I-6, V-8 horsepower: 225,300 transmission: 5-sp.auto w/man. selection on GS400 brakes: disc/disc, anti-lock price range: $38,500-$48,000 (est.)
Audi A6 www.audi.com
Audi is bringing a new A6 to market, largely resembling its smaller and successful A4 sibling. In fact, it shares many of the same underpinnings but is stretched and widened, with a 5.5-inch longer wheelbase, and three-inch wider track. Although previously there were both sedan and wagon versions of the A6, only the sedan will arrive as a 1998 model. A wagon is likely to follow next year.
Beneath the hood is a highly revised version of the last model’s 2.8- liter V-6 engine, long criticized for lackluster performance. The new engine moves from 172 to 200 horsepower. This helps things out quite a bit. However, the unique five-valve-per-cylinder design still doesn’t have the low-rpm torque of many rivals.
Helping out is a standard five-speed automatic transmission that has a Tiptronic control. Tiptronic allows the driver to manipulate the automatic transmission like a manual, adding an element of control and performance thee automatics usually lack. Also new is ESP, an anti-spin device that works with the anti-lock brakes to keep the car from sliding in a turn. As always, there is a choice of front- or all- wheel drive.
engine size: 2.8 liters engine type: V-6 30-valve horsepower: 200 transmission: 5-sp.auto brakes: Disc/disc, anti-lock price range: $34,900-$47,000
Mercedes-Benz CLK 320 www.mercedes.com
This is one of the most satisfying cars you’ll find. It’s beautiful, comfortable, luxurious and fast. The features list is highlighted by dual zone climate control, integrated garage door opener, side airbags and seat memory for both front passengers. And this is the first Mercedes coupe with cup holders front and rear. As a driver’s car, it has a potent V-6 engine, slick five-speed automatic transmission, ultra sophisticated suspension and meaty tires to grip the road. Brakes supply an assist for emergency stops. An optional ESP (Electronic Stability Program) oversees the engine and brakes to reduce the likelihood of