1. M Schumacher Ferrari 64
2. Raikkonen McLaren 56
3. R Schumacher Williams
4. Montoya WilliamsF1 47
5. Barrichello Ferrari 39
6. Alonso Renault 39
7. Coulthard McLaren 29
8. Trulli Renault 13
9. Webber Jaguar 12
With six GP’s to go, the championship is still wide open. If
Michael Schumacher were to score no more points, any of the eight
drivers below him are mathematically (even if not realistically) in
with a chance at the title. However, the most likely scenario is a
four way fight between the Schumacher brothers, Montoya and Raikkonen.
One (unconfirmed) report in the European press has Michael tipping
Ralf for the big one this year!
Nissan Patrol ST 4.8 Auto
In this country, full of pick-ups and now SUV’s,
the BIG Muvva’s are slowly starting to appear, mainly in the grey
import marketplace. This bracket includes the Toyota Land Bruiser
(sorry, Cruiser) and this week’s test vehicle from Down-under, the
Now these are not the 3 litre varieties, but damn
big V8’s or V6’s. Our Antipodean correspondent John Weinthal has
had a week with Nissan’s big one, and says, “it’s hard to see
why it’s not Number 1.” Here are the Words from Weinthal.
“These have been eventful months in the AUD
50-70,000 four-wheel-drive game. Nissan’s primary - virtually only -
opponent in the truly heavy duty business is Toyota’s LandCruiser.
LandCruiser wagon has ditched six cylinder engines in favour of a 4.66
litre V8. This contrasts with Nissan’s advanced 4.76 litre twin cam
six. The Nissan’s 185 kW six outguns Toyota’s V8 by 15 kW. It also
has a mite more torque at 420 Nm against Toyota’s 410.
“With just 5kg weight difference between these
near 2 and a half tonne behemoths, one expects the Nissan to outrun
the Toyota, as indeed it does. The Nissan is also mildly more
economical, better equipped and costs around AUD 5,000 less at AUD
56,000 in five-speed auto form. The Nissan also has a sequential
feature with its auto. This means near manual-gear driver control is
possible when this is desirable - something still not available on the
“But little of this seems to matter to the buyer.
V8s rule, and the ‘Cruiser has resumed its clear sales lead. A major
recent trend is the popularity of a host of new style occasional
four-wheel-drive wagons. These have varying real-world off-road
capabilities or objectives. Mercedes started the run with its ML,
followed by BMW’s X5. More recent arrivals are the Lexus RS330 and
Honda’s seven-seater MDX. “From AUD 70,000 and up, many will
consider these as not illogical alternatives to similarly priced large
sedans. As an aside, I should add that these pseudo off-roaders are
here mainly as a result of absurd laws which mean all higher riding
four-wheel-drives enjoy reduced import duties. Each of these luxury
soft-off’ers - and devices like Ford’s Explorer and some Jeeps -
sell mainly as two-wheel-drives overseas. Because of our regulations
the lighter weight, less complex, cheaper to make, two-wheel-drive
models would cost more here! Hence they are not imported. God Bless
“The seven-seater Patrol impressed immensely back
in 2001. One noted a newfound and totally un-Patrol-like refinement
accompanied by a huge improvement in ride. About my only negative
comment was the rather hefty manual shift. In practice this was rarely
used beyond town limits due to the free-revving engine’s strong
power and torque. I also couldn’t resist my usual comment about
these wagon’s size and that their harsh condition capabilities are
well beyond most owners’ needs or driving skills.
“The auto makes no difference on the size score.
Nissan’s five-speed auto is first class. The ability to flick
effortlessly up and down through the gears can make for greater
control, specially when slowing at roundabouts, for instance, or when
pressing on along a winding road.
“My final comment may seem weird. This was our
second 60 grand Nissan in succession. However, the 350Z sports car
(see last week’s column) and the Patrol share a badge; full stop.
The surprise is that sensible folk would almost certainly choose the
Patrol for comfort and a quiet ride over any journey of more than an
hour or two. But, let’s face it, many of us are not sensible in that
sense. We’d take the 350Z wouldn’t we!! There’s something about
the 350Z’s utter commitment to delivering driving joy. It is also a
modern classic in style; one of those cars which is severely
ego-polishing to be seen in.
“This is another pair of fine Nissans -
leadership contenders in their classes delivering excellent value.
They have regular 3 year 100,000 km warranties. To this Nissan adds 3
year 24 hour roadside assistance. Standard gear is pretty lavish. It
includes the expected power windows, mirrors and remote locking plus
climate control air with front and rear outlets, cruise control and a
more than decent sound system which includes both CD and tape - praise
be to Nissan! It is hard to see why Patrol is not No. 1 in the big