so after driving the TL-S for a yr and the GS400 for 2 weeks, i think it's time for me to drop off a few words on what i feel about the cars so far. first of all i have modded my TL-S for a while already so i can't really recall how the car is felt when it's stock.... you can see my mod list on what mods i have, and i will be comparing the GS4 to my modded TL-S along the way.
the GS4 is definitely a damn nice ride, to the point that sometimes you wonder if it's really a sport sedan (remember back in 98 they advertised the car to be the fastest sedan in the world -- and it was, even faster than the prev gen m3). i kinda like the porforated leather on the TL-S, looks more aggressive and somehow a bit more comfortable. don't get me wrong, the seats in the GS4 is definitely higher quality, but it's just like a couch.
the seats in the GS4 is big, or maybe huge. i am 5'7" and weight 150lb, and to me the seats are big. i am sure if you are 200lb you will still find the seats very comfortable, unlike the TL-S where the seats are considerably smaller. on a side note, my gf is small, and she complains that she always has a hard time driving the GS4 coz' whenever she turns he got swung side to side, and that's not the case with the TL-S. so you can imagine.
like i said in the past, lexus should have put in more lateral support on the GS4. currently you can pretty much say there is none, whereas on my TL-S the lateral support is very good. this is probably another doubt if this car is really a sport sedan.
the GS4 is quiet, dead quiet. from what i experienced, even when the GS4 is going at 100mph it's still quieter than the TL-S running at 85 to 90mph. it's THAT quiet. road noise is very nice, but keep in mind my TL-S is lowered so of course it's louder. but i don't think the stock TL-S is anywhere close to the GS4. you can easily see that the GS4 has much better sound insulation system. down the doors edge, moonroof, etc.... heck even if you try to pry open the trunk inner cover, you find cotton everywhere. unlike the TL-S where once you oepn the cover you see everything inside. if anything, this is where quality goes.
performance wise i think no one can argue that the GS4 wins by a mile. you just need to step on the gas "normally" from stop and you can already feel the tremendous torque the car puts out. very different from the TL-S. and it's dangerous too coz' you do't even know you are going that fast. for example yesterday i need to cut into a lane so i accelerated, but the integra just didn't let me. i was like wtf so i floored it and got into his lane, only to find that i was doing 90 already (damn!).
braking is somewhat disappointing. it's not as sensitive as the TL-S from what i can tell. with the TL-S, tapping the brake pad lightly and you can feel it already, but with the GS4 you will have to push it a bit hard to get the same feeling. keep in mind my TL-S still has the stock setup. true that the GS4 might have worn out a bit after 32k miles, but it does have new brake pads already.
handling is somewhat funny about the GS4. i think when lexus designed the GS4, they still wanted the car to be a luzury car, which it definitely is now, and thus the poor handling. seriously even stock to stock, i think the handling of the GS4 is not close to that of the TL-S. Maybe the tires are the only exception, but other parts are really not that good.
springs are too high and soft. With the stock TL-S, you open the door and you pretty much just sit down, but with the GS4 you probably need to climb into the car a little bit. Also, the stock shocks on the GS4 are way way too soft. go to a TL and try to push down from the trunk, you dont' see the car move that much. but when you do the same on a stock GS4, the car will jump up and down. this means that the shock are soft on the GS4. it's understandable, that way the ride would be better and quieter, but it's a big no-no for performance guys like us.
i tried to take the GS4 for hard cornering. man it's horrible. the body roll wa tremendous and the car tilted so much. of course it's very different from my TL-S coz' my acura has sways and springs already, but the GS4 could have definitely used more help.
it's interesting that the GS4 doesn't even have an upper strut bar under the hood. that's definitely something i will need to do, and i wish lexus has put in at least a stock one like that on the TL-S.
steering wheel is very loose on the GS4 too. it has always been the tradition on all lexus (until the IS300, which has an EXCELLENT steering wheel setup), and it's good for cruising but bad for handling. i prefer my acura, which has a much tigher steering wheel.
talk about response. both cars are 5 speed automatic with some sport of sport shift setup (the one on the GS4 is on the steering wheel). believe it or not, if you put the car is D5 and step on the gas hard, the TL-S WILL give you a fast response than the GS4. i mean they are both slow, but the GS4 probably takes like 2 seconds to response. so make sure you get enough head start if you want to pass some cars on the freeway. the same thing is not the same when you talk about from stop though, the GS4 will literally jump out coz' of it's torque. i am sure if you put on the Tl-S stock tires on the GS4, you will find youself doing nothing except spinning the tires.
now comes to rattle. seriously, if you find rattles in the acura, yes you should go back to acura to get them fixed, but stop whining coz' even lexus has their problems. i have been reading quite some about lexus, and they also have the sunroof rattling and plenty of trunk and main cabin rattling. even my GS4 has rattling, but of course it's much more bearable and i am sure it's always something you have to live with when you get a car, no matter what car you getting.
i think one thing that's worth talking about now is mods. to all performance enthusiasts, i think it's pretty safe to say both the stock TL-S and GS4 still have tons to improve. so, how much and what to improve? in general, from what i read, you got a much much wider variety of choices on the GS4, all the way from cosmetic to engine mods. but at the same time, you are looking at a MUCH more expensive price tags. i guess when you get a more expensive car that's bound to happen. (you are probably looking at like 30 to 50% more).
for the TL-S, imho, you need sways and springs for sure. cai is a very nice add-on. header is good if you have the money, and exhuast is ok if you can bear with the noise. cosmetic wise, i think the neuspeed bar is cool (yup, i don't think it's performance since we already have a stock one, and i couldn't feel any difference with it), ans i think 6000K low beam and fogs are a must. of course, if you have the money, you can always get nice rims for the car, but to me i think the stock 17" are very nice looking already. over the past yr i spent around 2500 on the car and it's a dramatic change (in a good way), both cosmetic and performance.
now for the GS4. for god's sake i think handling is the first, meaning spring AND shocks. you can live with the stock shocks on the TL-S coz' it's stiff, but if you get springs and no shocks on the GS4, good luck in finding yourself jumping up and down after speed bumps. and if you really think about it, ig you get a good set of springs with shocks, it's NOT that much cheaper than coilover, so i would actually suggest coilover, which is exactly what i am getting very soon. besides that, get the upper strut bar for sure. if it's possible get sways too, but the only sways out there for the GS4 is in horrible backorder now, so...
to me i think the GS4 and TL-S are very different cars, the TL-S is slim and the GS4 is beefy, so 17" looks aweful on the GS4. therefore between the two cars i think the GS4 needs new wheels more than the TL-S does. and yup, you need at lesat 19", which is what i am getting too. the GS has much more room for different sizes of wheels than the TL-S. even if you get a fat ass wheels for the GS4 you can get away with rubbing, but with the TL-S, slightest error and you rub like hell.
to me, i probably won't put in any engine mods on the GS4. the car is quiet to begin with and i don't really want to defeat that purpose. even an intake would make the car much louder coz' it's not like the TL-S where the sound only comes in when the vtec kicks in. that would be bad. and exhuast for the same reason too. the car is so fast to begin with anyway so....
cosmetic wise, there are tons of body kits out there but some of them i think are overdone for the car. you definitely need HID and that's what i am getting. fogs is another story coz' the one on the GS is NOT totally clear lens, so getting 6000K hid fogs won't yield the same effect as that on the TL-S. i might just put on normal superwhite, or even make it yellow like other stock GS4.
so this is my initial write up on the GS4 vs TL-S. you can see they both have pros and cons. the GS4 cost over 20k more than the TL-S new, but you are definitely getting what you pay for. the GS4 is very luxury and comfortable. but at the same time you will need a lot of money on the performance if that's what you asking for. so imho, with what we are getting with the TL-S, you SHOULD go and get an used GS4. for 34K you should be able to get a very decent GS4 and if you put in all the mods you need, the car would be a dream. everyone knows about the quality of lexus products, so even it's a used car you know it can hardly goes wrong.
- rominl 7/15/2002