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Performance Car of the Year 2004 - Introduction: classic MOTOR

By MOTOR Staff, 20 Dec 2019 Performance COTY

Performance Car of the Year 2004 Introduction feature

Take the phone off the hook, and get ready to meet the 19 hotties from 2004 that we reckoned are genuine PCOTY contenders, plus the weirdos who judged them

PCOTY is not all miles and smiles; it does involves what some of us can call work with a straight face. In fact, over the five days of car shuffling and testing this year, the Sydney crew put in more hours than George W Bush’s diction coach.

This feature was originally published in MOTOR’s April 2004 issue, and has been lightly edited for taste.

To give you an idea of the organisational effort involved, the arguments have already started over how next year’s PCOTY will be run – and which cars will get a guernsey.

Selecting the field of entrants should be simple enough, as the criteria can be explained in one sentence. To be a PCOTY contender, a car must have been launched, or significantly revised, in the year from January 1 to December 31, 2003.

The problem is that so many cars launched in that period are not qualified to put the ‘P’ in PCOTY. In short, a contender for MOTOR’s prestigious award must set out to do more than just get you from A to B. It must put a smile on the driver’s face along the way – or at least attempt to.

So, after sparking more office debate than the spelling of Krusty the Clown’s real name, a long list of possibles was whittled down this year to a starting grid of 21. That list was further chopped to 19 by the no-show of both the Porsche 911 GT3 RS and the Peugeot 206 GTi 180. That still left us with 4890kW of power from a collection worth a cool $2,594,801.

It was clear from the start that things were going to be different this year. Last time out, the Lamborghini Murciélago failed to show and the Porsche Boxster S ran away with the award. This time Lambo surprised and delighted everyone by actually lending us a 367kW, $399,346 Gallardo – despite the risk of serious paint damage from the slobber dripped on it by all and sundry.

We could fairly safely predict that a Porsche wouldn’t be taking the 2004 award, because the absence of the 911 left the Stuttgart stormers with merely a contender for the UCOTY gong. Of course, the Cayenne would still have to beat the Chrysler Crossfire to be crowned Ugliest Car of the Year, in what would be a close contest.

Besides its luscious Lambo and the hall-on-wheels Bentley Continental GT, Audi appeared to be having a serious shot at the title. Could this be the year that finally pensioned off the old acronym joke: Always Underwhelming Despite Innovation?

‘Underwhelming’ is not a word that comes to mind after driving the wild wagon that is the 331kW twin-turbo V8 RS 6 – the fastest load carrier since the space shuttle. The same 4.2-litre V8, minus the turbochargers, had also been squeezed into the smaller, lighter S4 sedan. With 253kW and a six-speed manual, it certainly looks like a proper driver’s car on paper.

But just when you thought Audi could crawl out of the serious shadow cast by compatriot company BMW, along comes the track titan M3 CSL.

The 265kW CSL is a freak of machinature. It’s the equivalent of taking Ben Johnson at his pharmacologically pumped prime and replacing his bones with kevlar and his tendons with optic fibres.

Basically an already awesome M3 minus 110kg and wearing tyres so soft a supermodel could wash her face with them, the CSL feels slight, light and, with its suede steering wheel, just right. And it sounds like a Formula One car with a sore throat; must be the extra 13kW it gains over the boring old M3.

Somewhat lost in the head-shaking fuss over the CSL was BMW’s other entrant, the Z4, but there’s no rule that says a roadster can’t win PCOTY (does the Boxster ring a bell?), and it’s powered by the Munich men’s famously fabulous 3.0-litre six.

The Japanese would also mount a credible challenge, with Mazda’s 177kW rotary-powered RX-8 already proving to be a media darling and the 206kW 350Z Track from Nissan providing a very backable dark horse.

And what of the home team? Our Bang For Your Bucks winner, the Holden Astra SRi Turbo, would try its 2.0-litre heart out, as usual, and would be joined by its stablemate, the venerable Commodore SS.

But the serious Aussie muscle would be flexed by the FPV Falcon GT, with 290kW and a please-take-me-seriously starter button, the less powerful yet more aggressive 285kW HSV ClubSport R8 and the frankly frightening CSV Mondo GT370R, which registers high on the Richter scale when its 6.5-litre V8 unleashes 370kW of mumbo.

Careful observers might also notice a Volvo in this year’s PCOTY field. At first we all thought the driver had merely got lost on his way to a Grosby sale, but apparently this 220kW S60R is the most powerful export the Swedes have produced since ABBA.

The garish green Volvo certainly proved popular on the bum-numbing drive from Sydney to Melbourne on Australia Day, perhaps because no one felt out of place driving slowly in it. The following morning the full field and the seven PCOTY judges (including one very Lucky Bastard) were assembled at Avalon Airport for day one – a full menu of top-speed testing, 400m and 1000m runs and 0-100km/h sprints. 

Traditionally, the airfield adventure seems to be held on the hottest day of the year, but this time Melbourne turned on its famous weather for us and we experienced every climatic condition short of raining frogs.

That evening the MOTOR convoy made the three-hour crawl to Benalla before an early start to day two at neighbouring Winton, where MOTOR columnist and V8 Supercar driver Cameron McConville went about setting a hot lap time in each of the 19 vehicles. At the same time, the other six judges also took each car for a spin on the track – literally in some cases.

From an observer’s point of view, Cam looks to be going as quickly as possible while the other judges seem to work on important questions like “How much tyre smoke is too much smoke?” and “How far sideways can the vehicle go while still progressing in a forward manner?”

Day three saw the PCOTY crew going bush, deep into the King Valley for The Hillclimb – a 16km road loop that gives the judges a vital idea of what the cars are like on real roads, complete with hairpins, broken surfaces and occasional oncoming traffic.

It is at this stage that the various steeds jockeying for position can make a winning run. A car that posts a ballistic speed at Avalon and impresses McConville at Winton can be well and truly found out at The Hillclimb. And, after all, the real world is where the cars have to impress the most, because that’s where we all have to drive them.

Which brings us to the judging criteria. How do the judges compare vehicles as different as a Volvo and a Lamborghini?

Basically, they use a points system, with every car getting a mark out of 80. That 80 is broken down into a score out of 20 for performance (using data gathered from Avalon and Winton), a score out of 20 for dynamics (evaluating steering feel and response, agility, stability, braking feel and feedback, grip levels, ride quality and powerdown), another 20 for driveability (clutch and gearbox operation, smoothness and tractability, noise suppression, ergonomics, comfort and suitability for Australian roads), a mark out of 10 for design and function (styling, safety features, practicality and functionality) and a final score out of 10 for value (what you get for what you pay, as compared with other competitors in that market).

At the end of day three, the totals are added up and the top six point scorers go into the final voting stage. The judges are then sequestered in a room with padded walls to nut out the winner. Each judge votes for his personal first, second and third, and the car with the most votes is crowned MOTOR’s Performance Car of the Year 2004.

In the midst of all this, 19 cars are washed umpteen times and fuelled a dozen times, a lumbering army of helpers is somehow fed and accommodated and Marcus Hofmann, the unlucky bastard tasked with organising the whole thing, undergoes a small but memorable nervous breakdown. Oh, and somehow a Channel Nine crew films a PCOTY DVD.

Surely when the girlfriend sits through that, she’ll understand how much fun it all was.

PCOTY 2004 Contenders

Alfa Romeo 147 GTA - $59,950

Last year the 156 GTA was a contender with its 184kW 3.2-litre V6. This year the same engine is back in the smaller, lighter 147. We’re fans of big engines in little bodies, but it had to come so we could laugh at people parking it. The baby Alfa has the biggest turning circle per inch of car ever.

Alfa Romeo 147 GTA Specifications
Drive: Front-wheel
Engine: 3.2-litre V6 DOHC 24v
Power: 184kW @ 6200rpm
Torque: 300Nm @ 4800rpm 
Bore x Stroke: 93.0mm x 78.0mm
Weight: 1360kg
Power/Weight: 135kW/tonne
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Suspension: double wishbones, coil springs, anti-roll bar (f);multi-link, coil springs, anti-roll bar (r)
L/W/h: 4213/1764/1412mm
Wheelbase: 2546mm
Track: 1516mm/1504mm (f/r)
Brakes: 305mm ventilated discs, two-piston calipers (f); 276mm solid discs, single-piston calipers (r)
Wheels: 17 x 7.5in (f & r), alloy
Tyres: Michelin Pilot Sport; 225/45 ZR17 (f & r)
Fuel consumption: 17.48L/100km

Audi RS 6 - $225,100

You don’t often see a station wagon lined up in the PCOTY field, but this 331kW twin-turbo 4.2-litre V8 shopping trolley paints faces with shock and awe as it leaves the traffic lights, and mere mortal cars, behind. It does it all so easily, and it also makes a sound like a caveful of bears snoring.

Audi RS6 Specifications
Drive: All-wheel
Engine: 4.2-litre V8 DOHC 40v twin-turbo
Power: 331kW @ 5700rpm
Torque: 560Nm @ 1950rpm 
Bore x Stroke: 84.5mm x 93.0mm
Weight: 1865kg
Power/Weight: 177kW/tonne
Transmission: Five-speed automatic
Suspension: Multi-link, coil springs, anti-roll bar (f); double wishbones, coil springs, anti-roll bar (r)
L/W/h: 4852/1850/1452mm
Wheelbase: 2759mm
Track: 1578mm/1587mm (f/r)
Brakes: 365mm ventilated discs, eight-piston calipers (f); 335mm ventilated discs, single-piston calipers (r)
Wheels: 19 x 9.0in (f & r), alloy
Tyres: Continental Sport Contact; 255/35 ZR19 (f & r)
Fuel consumption: 24.36L/100km

Audi S4 - $129,500

Audi has gone one up on BMW by shoehorning a 4.2-litre V8 into an A4 body, and with 253kW, all-wheel drive and a neat, sweet, petite body it should be a contender. The only problem it has is being so badly overshadowed by the RS 6. Well, that and Audi’s traditional love of understeer.

Audi S4 Specifications
Drive: All-wheel
Engine: 4.2-litre V8 DOHC 40v
Power: 253kW @ 7000rpm
Torque: 410Nm @ 3500rpm 
Bore x Stroke: 84.5mm x 93.0mm
Weight: 1660kg
Power/Weight: 158kW/tonne
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Suspension: Double wishbone, coil springs, anti-roll bar (f); multi-link, coil springs, anti-roll bar (r)
L/W/h: 4575/1781/1415mm
Wheelbase: 2651mm
Track: 1516mm/1512mm (f/r)
Brakes: 340mm ventilated discs, four-piston calipers (f); 300mm ventilated discs, two-piston calipers (r)
Wheels: 18 x 8.0in (f & r), alloy
Tyres: Bridgestone Potenza; 235/40 ZR18 (f & r)
Fuel consumption: 19.66L/100km

Bentley Continental GT - $379,995

Speaking of Audis, the Bentley’s 411kW twin-turbo W12 engine is enough to mark it down as a genuine contender, but having to haul around 2410kg of felled forest and a whole slaughter yard of dead cow makes it a genuine engineering marvel. We knew it would go, but would it ever stop?

Bentley Continental GT Specifications
Drive: All-wheel
Engine: 6.0-litre W12 DOHC 48v twin-turbo
Power: 411kW @ 6200rpm
Torque: 650Nm @ 1600rpm 
Bore x Stroke: 84.0mm x 90.2mm
Weight: 2410kg
Power/Weight: 170kW/tonne
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Suspension: Double wishbones, air springs, anti-roll bar (f); multi-link, air springs, anti-roll bar (r)
L/W/h: 4807/1918/1390mm
Wheelbase: 2745mm
Track: 1623mm/1607mm (f/r)
Brakes: 405mm ventilated discs, two-piston calipers (f); 365mm ventilated discs, single-piston calipers (r)
Wheels: 19 x 9.0in (f & r), alloy
Tyres: Pirelli P Zero Rosso; 275/40 ZR19 (f & r)
Fuel consumption: 28.65L/100km

BMW M3 CSL - $210,000

How do you make an M3 better? Replace its body parts with carbon fibre. Oh, and drag an extra 13kW from the 3.2-litre six. The M3 CSL has 265kW yet weighs just 1385kg. Its tyres are stickier than a donut-eating copper’s fingers. It was the pick to set the pace at Winton, but how would it go on the road?

BMW M3 CSL Specifications
Drive: Rear-wheel
Engine: 3.2-litre inline-six DOHC 24v
Power: 265kW @ 7900rpm
Torque: 370Nm @ 4900rpm 
Bore x Stroke: 91.0mm x 87.0mm
Weight: 1385kg
Power/Weight: 191kW/tonne
Transmission: Six-speed automated manual
Suspension: MacPherson struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar (f); multi-link, coil springs, anti-roll bar (r)
L/W/h: 4492/1780/1369mm 
Wheelbase: 2729mm
Track: 1518mm/1525mm (f/r)
Brakes: 345mm ventilated & cross-drilled discs, single-piston calipers (f); 328mm ventilated & cross-drilled discs, single-piston calipers (r)
Wheels: 19 x 8.5in (f), 19 x 9.5in (r); alloy
Tyres: Michelin Pilot Sport Cup; 235/35 ZR19 (f), 265/30 ZR19 (r)
Fuel consumption: 20.39L/100km

BMW Z4 - $92,000

The Z3 was a hairdresser’s car. The Z4 seems to have been styled by a hairdresser and machined with a can opener, but its 170kW 3.0-litre six-cylinder powerplant has enough power to blow your hair back. And, as it proved on Bang For Your Bucks, it’s now got a proper chassis under it.

BMW Z4 Specifications
Drive: Rear-wheel
Engine: 3.0-litre inline-six DOHC 24v
Power: 170kW @ 5900rpm
Torque: 300Nm @ 3500rpm 
Bore x Stroke: 84.0mm x 89.6mm
Weight: 1365kg
Power/Weight: 125kW/tonne
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Suspension: coil over struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar (f); multi-link, coil springs, anti-roll bar (r)
L/W/h: 4091/1781/1299mm 
Wheelbase: 2495mm
Track: 1473mm/1523mm (f/r)
Brakes: 300mm ventilated discs, single-piston calipers (f); 294mm ventilated discs, single-piston calipers (r)
Wheels: 18 x 8.0in (f & r), alloy
Tyres: Bridgestone Potenza RE040; 225/40 ZR18 (f), 255/35 ZR18 (r)
Fuel consumption: 18.05L/100km

Chrysler Crossfire - $69,990

It’s the ugliest thing to come out of America since Michael Jackson’s last four noses. It’s got a 3.2-litre V6 that produces an un-American power figure of just 160kW. It’s got a lot of Benz SLK under it. If you did something to annoy Hermie, you got to drive the Crossfire, and we laughed at you.

Chrysler Crossfire Specifications
Drive: Rear-wheel
Engine: 3.2-litre V6 SOHC 18v
Power: 160kW @ 5700rpm
Torque: 310Nm @ 3000rpm 
Bore x Stroke: 89.9mm x 84.0mm
Weight: 1388kg
Power/Weight: 115kW/tonne
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Suspension: double wishbones, coil springs, anti-roll bar (f); multi-link, coil springs, anti-roll bar (r)
L/W/h: 4059/1766/1305mm
Wheelbase: 2400mm
Track: 1482mm/1478mm (f/r)
Brakes: 300mm ventilated discs, single-piston calipers (f); 278mm ventilated discs, single-piston calipers (r)
Wheels: 18 x 7.5in (f), 19 x 9.0in (r), alloy
Tyres: Michelin Pilot Sport 2; 225/40 ZR18 (f), 255/35 ZR19 (r)
Fuel consumption: 13.38L/100km

CSV Mondo GT370R - $110,000

Some people go to horror movies to get scared; we prefer to drive the 370kW 6.5-litre V8 Mondo Rock. It sounds like a small-scale nuclear detonation at idle, and when given the boot it makes a noise like the end of the world. As McConkin succinctly put it, “it builds character”.

CSV Mondo GT370R Specifications
Drive: Rear-wheel
Engine: 6.5-litre V8 pushrod 16v
Power: 370kW @ 5800rpm
Torque: 580Nm @ 3500rpm 
Bore x Stroke: 99.1mm x 104.8mm
Weight: 1660kg
Power/Weight: 223kW/tonne
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Suspension: MacPherson struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar (f); semi-trailing arms, coil springs, anti-roll bar (r)
L/W/h: 4877/1842/1400mm
Wheelbase: 2788mm
Track: 1558mm/1574mm (f/r)
Brakes: 356mm ventilated & cross-drilled discs, six-piston calipers (f); 356mm ventilated & cross-drilled discs, four-piston calipers (r)
Wheels: 19 x 9.0in (f & r), alloy
Tyres: Pirelli P Zero Rosso; 255/30 ZR19 (f), 275/30 ZR19 (r)
Fuel consumption: 22.49L/100km

FPV Falcon GT - $59,850

The legend returns, or something… with a 290kW, 520Nm 5.4-litre V8 and a starter button – just in case you didn’t know it was special from the size of the bonnet bulge. And it sounds sweet, inside and out. In this company it looks like a bargain, but can it keep up with the Euro monsters?

FPV Falcon GT Specifications
Drive: Rear-wheel
Engine: 5.4-litre V8 32v
Power: 290kW @ 5500rpm
Torque: 520Nm @ 4500rpm 
Bore x Stroke: 95.2mm x 105.8mm
Weight: 1835kg
Power/Weight: 158kW/tonne
Transmission: Five-speed manual
Suspension: Double wishbones, coil springs, anti-roll bar (f); multi-link, coil springs, anti-roll bar (r)
L/W/h: 4920/1864/1435mm
Wheelbase: 2829mm
Track: 1560mm/1575mm (f/r)
Brakes: 325mm grooved & ventilated discs, two-piston calipers (f); 303mm solid & grooved discs, single-piston calipers (r)
Wheels: 18 x 8.0in (f & r), alloy
Tyres: Dunlop SP Sport 9000; 245/40 ZR18 (f & r)
Fuel consumption: 20.48L/100km

Holden Astra SRi Turbo - $36,990

Our Bang For Your Bucks champ was always up against it down the strip at Avalon and around Winton. It’s a comparative popgun, with a 147kW 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine, but its twisty-road talent might just keep it in the hunt at the Hillclimb. It surprised ’em once; can it do it again?

Holden Astra SRi Turbo Specifications
Drive: Front-wheel
Engine: 2.0-litre inline-four DOHC 16v turbo
Power: 147kW @ 5600rpm
Torque: 250Nm @ 4650rpm 
Bore x Stroke: 86.0mm x 86.0mm
Weight: 1282kg
Power/Weight: 115kW/tonne
Transmission: Five-speed manual
Suspension: MacPherson struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar (f); torsion beam, coil springs, anti-roll bar (r)
L/W/h: 4110/1709/1425mm
Wheelbase: 2606mm
Track: 1467mm/1456mm (f/r)
Brakes: 308mm ventilated discs, single-piston calipers (f); 264mm solid discs, single-piston calipers (r)
Wheels: 17 x 7.5in (f & r), alloy
Tyres: Dunlop SP Sport 8000E; 215/40 ZR17 (f & r)
Fuel consumption: 14.49L/100km

Holden Commodore SS - $49,990

The car most people can actually afford deserves a PCOTY run on its numbers alone, with a 5.7-litre old-spec pushrod V8 pumping out a hefty 245kW for under $50,000. And we wanted to see if we could finally get one to the PCOTY finish without it feeling like a soggy, tired, steaming bucket of poo.

Holden Commodore SS Specifications
Drive: Rear-wheel
Engine: 5.7-litre V8 pushrod 16v
Power: 245kW @ 5600rpm
Torque: 465Nm @ 4000rpm 
Bore x Stroke: 99.0mm x 92.0mm
Weight: 1658kg
Power/Weight: 148kW/tonne
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Suspension: MacPherson struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar (f); semi-trailing arms, coil springs, anti-roll bar (r)
L/W/h: 4965/1842/1450mm
Wheelbase: 2788mm
Track: 1569mm/1587mm (f/r)
Brakes: 296mm ventilated discs, two-piston calipers (f); 286mm solid discs, single-piston calipers (r)
Wheels: 18 x 8.0in (f & r), alloy
Tyres: Bridgestone Potenza; 235/40 ZR18 (f & r)
Fuel consumption: 19.25L/100km

HSV ClubSport R8 - $69,150

A local boy with a real chance of repelling the overseas invaders, the Clubbie R8’s 5.7-litre V8 is a little more refined than the SS and, at 285kW, a lot more powerful. And they say they’ve fixed it, so – who knows? – this year the power steering pump might survive a day at Winton.

HSV ClubSport R8 Specifications
Drive: Rear-wheel
Engine: 5.7-litre V8 pushrod 16v
Power: 285kW @ 5800rpm
Torque: 510Nm @ 4800rpm 
Bore x Stroke: 99.0mm x 92.0mm
Weight: 1696kg
Power/Weight: 168kW/tonne
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Suspension: MacPherson struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar (f); semi-trailing arms with toe-links, coil springs, anti-roll bar (r)
L/W/h: 4890/1842/1450mm
Wheelbase: 2788mm
Track: 1558mm/1574mm (f/r)
Brakes: 343mm ventilated & cross-drilled discs, four-piston calipers (f); 315mm ventilated & cross-drilled discs, four-piston calipers (r)
Wheels: 19 x 9.0in (f & r), alloy
Tyres: PIrelli P Zero; 245/35 ZR19 (f & r)
Fuel consumption: 21.95L/100km

Jaguar XJR - $219,000

A car that looks and feels so much like a limo (it even has a ‘valet mode’) might seem out of place at PCOTY, until you look under the bonnet. The 4.2-litre supercharged V8 produces a thumping 298kW and makes the Jag a very quick car indeed – at least in a straight line.

Jaguar XJR Specifications
Drive: Rear-wheel
Engine: 4.2-litre V8 DOHC 32v supercharger
Power: 298kW @ 6100rpm
Torque: 553Nm @ 3500rpm 
Bore x Stroke: 86.0mm x 90.0mm
Weight: 1665kg
Power/Weight: 179kW/tonne
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Suspension: Double wishbones, air springs, anti-roll bar (f); multi-link, air springs, anti-roll bar (r)
L/W/h: 5024/1880/1448mm
Wheelbase: 3034mm
Track: 1557mm/1547mm (f/r)
Brakes: 365mm ventilated discs, four-piston calipers (f); 330mm solid discs, four-piston calipers (r)
Wheels: 19 x 8.5in (f & r), alloy
Tyres: Michelin Pilot; 255/40 ZR19 (f & r)
Fuel consumption: 16.99L/100km

Lamborghini Gallardo - $399,346

Why is it here? It starts with an ‘L’ and has a 5.0-litre V10 that makes 367kW and a noise like Satan’s rottweiler after it’s sat on a hot pitchfork. But frankly, the Gallardo is such a stunning beauty that it could have made PCOTY on looks alone. Turns both women and men weak at the knees.

Lamborghini Gallardo Specifications
Drive: All-wheel
Engine: 5.0-litre V10 DOHC 40v
Power: 367kW @ 7800rpm
Torque: 510Nm @ 4500rpm 
Bore x Stroke: 82.5mm x 92.8mm
Weight: 1450kg
Power/Weight: 253kW/tonne
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Suspension: Double wishbones, coil springs, anti-roll bar (f & r)
L/W/h: 4300/1900/1165mm
Wheelbase: 2560mm
Track: 1622mm/1592mm (f/r)
Brakes: 365mm ventilated & cross-drilled discs, eight-piston calipers (f); 335mm ventilated & cross-drilled discs, four-piston calipers (r)
Wheels: 19 x 8.5in (f), 19 x 11.0in (r); alloy
Tyres: Pirelli P Zero Rosso; 235/30 ZR19 (f), 295/30 ZR19 (r)
Fuel consumption: 30.5L/100km

Mazda RX-8 - $62,610

Performance without compromise, or so they say. A worthy successor to the RX-7 that has the added bonus of being able to carry three passengers in something resembling comfort. The 1.3-litre rotary rocket produces 177kW at a stratospheric 8200rpm. Just don’t buy the auto.

Mazda RX-8 Specifications
Drive: Rear-wheel
Engine: 1.3-litre twin-rotor
Power: 177kW @ 8200rpm
Torque: 211Nm @ 5500rpm 
Compression Ratio: 10.0:1
Weight: 1354kg
Power/Weight: 131kW/tonne
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Suspension: Double wishbones, coil springs, anti-roll bar (f); multi-link, coil springs, anti-roll bar (r)
L/W/h: 4435/1770/1340mm
Wheelbase: 2700mm
Track: 1500mm/1505mm (f/r)
Brakes: 323mm ventilated discs, single-piston calipers (f); 302mm ventilated discs, single-piston calipers (r)
Wheels: 18 x 8.0in (f & r), alloy
Tyres: Bridgestone Potenza; 225/45 ZR18 (f & r)
Fuel consumption: 17.7L/100km

classic MOTOR: '67 Cosmo v 2009 RX-8

Nissan 350Z Track - $65,990

Nissan has an enviable record at PCOTY, having won in 2001 with the delectable 200SX. The 350Z is its spiritual successor. Its performance figures are impressive beyond the 206kW 3.5-litre V6’s outputs. It stunned us with BFYB lap times, so we know it’ll be quick at Winton.

Nissan 350Z Track Specifications
Drive: Rear-wheel
Engine: 3.5-litre V6 DOHC 24v
Power: 206kW @ 6200rpm
Torque: 363Nm @ 4800rpm 
Bore x Stroke: 95.5mm x 81.1mm
Weight: 1453kg
Power/Weight: 142kW/tonne
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Suspension: Multi-link, coil springs, anti-roll bar (f); multi-link, coil springs, anti-roll bar (r)
L/W/h: 4298/1816/1318mm
Wheelbase: 2649mm
Track: 1534mm/1544mm (f/r)
Brakes: 324mm ventilated discs, four-piston calipers (f); 322mm ventilated discs, two-piston calipers (r)
Wheels: 18 x 8.0in (f & r), alloy
Tyres: Bridgestone Potenza RE040; 225/45 R18 (f), 245/45 R18 (r)
Fuel consumption: 17.41L/100km

Porsche Cayenne Turbo - $203,400

Well, it’s got the right badge, and a 331kW twin-turbo 4.5-litre V8 certainly looks good on paper, but this is one Porsche that’s never going to win a beauty contest, or a PCOTY for that matter. We figured that if the BMW X5 4.6iS was the best of the genre so far, surely Porsche should do it better?

Porsche Cayenne Turbo Specifications
Drive: All-wheel
Engine: 4.5-litre V8 DOHC 32v twin-turbo
Power: 331kW @ 6000rpm
Torque: 620Nm @ 2250-4750rpm 
Bore x Stroke: 93.0mm x 83.0mm
Weight: 2355kg
Power/Weight: 141kW/tonne
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Suspension: Double wishbones, air springs, anti-roll bar (f); multi-link, air springs, anti-roll bar (r)
L/W/h: 4786/1928/1699mm
Wheelbase: 2855mm
Track: 1647mm/1662mm (f/r)
Brakes: 350mm ventilated discs, six-piston calipers (f); 320mm ventilated discs, four-piston calipers (r)
Wheels: 18 x 8.0in (f & r), alloy
Tyres: Pirelli P Zero; 255/55 ZR18 (f & r)
Fuel consumption: 18.96L/100km

Subaru Liberty GT - $52,990

No Rex and no STi this year, but Subaru’s trusty 2.0-litre flat four turns up this time in the Liberty, producing 180kW. Shame about the five-speed auto. Bigger shame that it turned up with no dipstick and spat oil willy nilly. The GT is what the B4 used to be, so that’s got to be worth a fang.

Subaru Liberty GT Specifications
Drive: All-wheel
Engine: 2.0-litre flat-four DOHC 16v
Power: 180kW @ 6400rpm
Torque: 310Nm @ 2400rpm 
Bore x Stroke: 92.0mm x 75.0mm
Weight: 1440kg
Power/Weight: 125kW/tonne
Transmission: Five-speed automatic
Suspension: Coil over struts, lower alloy arm, anti-roll bar (f); longitudinal and transverse arms, coil springs, anti-roll bar (r)
L/W/h: 4665/1730/1425mm
Wheelbase: 2670mm
Track: 1495mm/1490mm (f/r)
Brakes: 316mm ventilated discs, two-piston calipers (f); 290mm ventilated discs, single-piston calipers (r)
Wheels: 17 x 7.0in (f & r), alloy
Tyres: Bridgestone Potenza RE050; 215/45 ZR17 (f & r)
Fuel consumption: 12.06L/100km

Volvo S60 R - $98,950

No, really. A Volvo. At PCOTY. With 220kW from a 2.5-litre turbocharged inline five, this is the most firebreathing engine Volvo has ever produced. Makes you wish you were a bloody Volvo driver, or a lobotomy patient – same difference. Power is one thing, but do they handle yet?

Volvo S60 R Specifications
Drive: All-wheel
Engine: 2.5-litre inline-5 DOHC 20v turbo
Power: 220kW @ 525pm
Torque: 400Nm @ 1950-5250rpm
Bore x Stroke: 83.0mm x 93.2mm
Weight: 1713kg
Power/Weight: 128kW/tonne
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Suspension: Coil springs struts, lower link, anti-roll bar (f); multi-link, coil springs, anti-roll bar (r)
L/W/h: 4606/1804/1431mm
Wheelbase: 2715mm
Track: 1557mm/1542mm (f/r)
Brakes: 330mm ventilated discs, four-piston calipers (f & r)
Wheels: 18 x 8.0in (f & r), alloy
Tyres: Pirelli P Zero Rosso; 235/40 ZR18 (f & r)
Fuel consumption: 17.58L/100km

PCOTY 2004 Judges panel

Michael Taylor

The editor, so he kept the keys to the Gallardo. Like any general, MT is expert at marshalling resources, which is why he didn’t write this. MT is from Goondiwindi, which is why he’s so sadly lacking in the PC gene. He’s had stints at The Chronicle, The Courier-Mail and Sydney’s Daily Telegraph. Of course, as editor he also signs our pay cheques. Did I mention how attractive he is? 

Jesse Taylor

The deputy editor, which meant he got the keys to the CSL, or the RS 6. Jesse has a passionate love for both basketball shoes and BMW M3s. He has a large collection of just one of these things. An experienced motoring scribe and former magazine editor, Jesse is also famous for his volcanic ability to blow up, but he didn’t hit anyone this year. Not that the police ever heard about.

Dean Evans

The Brendon Julian of MOTOR. The Australians took Julian to the World Cup in 1999 as nightclub bait. But while Julian attracted women with his looks, Deano’s a race driver; he has a shiny helmet. He could race F1, but only if he could carry a woman in the car, as this gives him a second a lap. Still, Dean is a bit slow at maths, giving one car an impressive 81 out of a possible 80 this year.

David Morley

A mop of hair with a man attached. Renowned for his excoriating putdowns, “Fabio – The World’s Most Beautiful Man” strikes fear into car companies, as they know he can pull apart a car with his tongue, or his keyboard, or something. He’s also capable of mounting a convincing argument that Tiptronic-style gearboxes and speed cameras are both the work of the devil.

Greg Kable

Like Stuart Appleby – an Aussie who’s a success overseas, and returns occasionally to remind himself what he’s missing. In Greg’s case, his reminder was covered in hair and it hit the Pajero support vehicle he was driving. Greg rarely experiences roo strike in Stuttgart. MOTOR’s European correspondent, he’s from good stock; his father Mike was the doyen of the industry. 

Cameron McConville

He’s something all the other judges want to be when they grow up: a professional racing driver. Despite being a Holden man, he avoids being one-eyed when asked to drive Ford product. McConkin gives superb, instant feedback, and also sets the official lap times at Winton, while the other judges are mucking around. He also fancies himself as a columnist. That’ll be the irony, then.


Wondering why you weren’t chosen as Lucky Bastard, right? Well, Mike Cass works for Lesbian Creations, or so he said. He also said his wife had left him for a woman, on their anniversary, and, worse than that, she’d taken his beloved TS50 with her. He was playing for sympathy, but he came to the wrong place. He is now called Strap-On – the bit lesbians play with when they’re bored…

Follow PCOTY 2004

- Drag Testing
- Track Test
- Road Test
- Reader's Take
- Elimination Round
- 6th Place
- 5th Place
- 4th Place
- 3rd Place
- 2nd Place
- Behind the Scenes

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