Nissan Patrol, big in all the right places

Nissan Patrol given a new lease on life with upgrades

Reuben Van Niekerk
Road test
Nissan
Patrol
4x4

The Patrol is an icon in the Nissan line up and in the world of 4x4 SUVs. Since 1951 almost 2-million of these vehicles have been sold worldwide. They are known for their durability, premium design, safety, comfort features and unmatched all-terrain performance.

 

The Patrol has established itself as one of the most capable vehicles around, with outstanding driving performance, great engines and Advanced Hydraulic Body Motion Control. With that as a starting point, Nissan took all of the aspects of a vehicle that already provided owners with top level comfort, safety and confidence behind the wheel and made it even better.

 

Thanks to this latest round of upgrades the Patrol features a striking new design and enhanced luxury features while retaining its exceptional on and off-road capabilities and class leading power.

 

What’s new?

The most notable design changes include the addition of Nissan’s V-motion grille with integrated front camera, interpreted in a new way for SUVs. Along with the new boomerang shaped LED headlights are C shaped daytime running lights, which really elevate the Patrols already imposing image. The redesigned grille highlights the Patrol’s strong, angular front, while the new bonnet design is softened with a couple of creases. Finishing things off the updates is a selection of chrome accents.

 

Updated front fenders feature the same fake plastic side vents but they do frame a set of newly designed alloy rims nicely. At the rear, the Patrol’s new LED taillights also sport the boomerang shape. They are seamlessly integrated along with a large chrome nameplate and now feature sequential rear turn indicators, which have been added for the first time on a Nissan vehicle.

 

Keeping safe

Also new on this updated model is a number of passive safety systems including

Intelligent emergency braking, Forward collision warning, Intelligent Distance Control Assist, Lane Departure warning and prevention and Blind spot warning and intervention. These systems make an already safe vehicle just that little bit safer and easier to drive.

 

Big in Japan

The Patrol is a big vehicle, at over 5 metres long it has a longer wheelbase, is wider and stands taller than its most obvious rival the Toyota Land Cruiser 200 but it carries that weight and size extremely well in all situations.

 

Despite its size, the Patrol can really carry speed while remaining sure-footed. When pushed hard it does show hints of body roll but that is easily managed with smooth steering, braking and accelerator inputs.

 

After five minutes behind the steering wheel it no longer feels larger than a normal bakkie, in fact it actually feels particularly nimble.

 

Inside story

The interior of the Patrol has an aura of luxury thanks to plenty of leather, soft touch materials, thick carpets and wood inserts.

 

In terms of instrumentation, it still features an analogue cluster and the centre console has been carried over from the previous model. At this stage the new twin touch screen infotainment system is only available in left hand drive models. This is no big drawback but it does detract slightly from the luxury feel when many considerably cheaper vehicles in the marketplace now feature complete digital cockpit displays. The Bose audio system offers CD/DVD, Radio, MP3 and USB, iPod compatibility but no modern features such as Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.

 

Rather large exterior dimensions translate into a massive interior. The front seats are 8-way adjustable and offer great support in all directions. They are also fan cooled and heated. The driver and all rows of passengers have a good view over the bonnet, through a large windscreen thanks to theatre style seating. A flat floor, thanks to body on frame construction also makes sliding into the second and third rows easier as there is no tunnel that intrudes into the vehicle.

 

Between the front seats is a cooler box that can hold a six-pack of drinks and can be opened from the front or the rear.

 

The second row too features great views, plenty of grab handles and screens in the headrests along with a couple of sets of headphones and a remote control. There are air-conditioning vents for each row and every kind of electronic port that passengers could need. The seats themselves incorporate a five-position backrest and they are manually folded to allow access to the third row, or to fold them out of the way. The third row of seats can accommodate average sized adults comfortably or fold flat into the floor to create a cavernous boot space. With all seats in the upright position, boot space measures 468 litres, with the third row folded away that increases to 1 413 litres or 2 632 litres with the second row stowed.

 

Significant reductions in noise and vibration result in a quieter, more pleasant cabin. Improved cooling and air flow distribution systems lead to quicker cooling, which is ideal for hot climates like South Africa.

 

Power to the people

Under the bonnet is the well-known 5.6-litre V8 that produces 298kW and 560Nm With a big chunk of this torque available from as low as 1600 rev/min, it offers great driveability at all speeds. This naturally aspirated powerhouse is mated to a silky smooth seven-speed automatic gearbox. The Patrol is more than happy to trundle along in traffic but when the road opens up, or overtaking needs to be done, that power plant wastes no time in rocketing this large beast towards the horizon.

 

The engine is responsive and really adds to the character of the vehicle in a great way. Testament to the engines ability is that the Patrol takes less than 8 seconds to reach 100km/h, which is spectacular given that it weighs 2 746 kilograms.

 

These days petrol powered off-roaders are few and far between, but in an age of turbochargers and hybrids a big V8 with plenty of grunt still has its perks and it really works in this vehicle.

 

Soaking up the bumps

With independent suspension all round and Hydraulic Body Motion Control the Patrol already featured exemplary ride quality. As part of this mid life upgrade the dampers have been retuned to further improved ride quality.

 

Hydraulic Body Motion Control minimises body lean by stiffening the outer-side dampers through clever fluid transfer, and gravity.

 

All too often manufacturers put big rims on vehicles with low profile tyres and this renders even the plushest suspension set up null and void. Despite the size of the Patrol it is great to see that Nissan as stuck with an 18-inch rim and a good All–terrain tyre with a proper sidewall meaning that it is ready to tackle all kinds of terrain. The larger sidewall will allow one to run lower tyre pressures should the conditions require and also contributes to the excellent ride quality and passenger comfort.

 

Despite these regularly sized wheels the Patrol still boasts a ground clearance of 280mm up front and 300mm at the rear which is on par with the best standard off-roaders on the market such as the Jeep Wrangler.

 

What makes the Patrol great is that this clever suspension set up ensures that the same outstanding level of comfort is maintained whether cruising on the highway, tackling sand dunes or when negotiating rocky mountain terrain.

 

Heavy lifter

With a GVM of 3500kg the Patrol will remain well within legal limits when fully loaded. It is well known that the Nissan Patrol is a class leader when it comes to towing capacity and this fact remains. The latest model can still pull a braked trailer of up to 3 500kg making it the ideal vehicle for boat owners or petrol heads who need to tow their racing cars to track days. Offering a GCM of 7000kg the Patrol is unrivalled in this department.

 

Off-road ability

All generations of the Patrol have earned legendary status amongst off-roaders and overlanders and this latest incarnation of the Y82 model is no different.

 

With 280mm of ground clearance, a 34.4-degree approach angle, a 26.3 departure angle and a 700mm wading depth the Patrol can go pretty much anywhere.

 

The All-Mode 4x4 system lets the driver switch modes to handle different on and off-road conditions and ensures that off-road driving is a simple affair, with the vehicle doing all the thinking for you. The electronically controlled part-time transfer case features Auto, 4-High and 4-Lo modes. There are also modes for Sand, Snow, Rock and on-road which tailor the traction control and throttle response to the needs of those different types of terrain. All 4WD controls are neatly package into a knob incorporating push buttons behind the gear lever.

 

Playing in the sandpit

Nissan Patrols are extremely popular in Middle Eastern countries, which have vast amounts of sand and dunes to play in, so the Patrol needs to be good in sandy conditions. Well it is probably the best vehicle I have ever driven in sand. That naturally aspirated V8 loves to rev and it makes great power, which sees this heavy vehicle transform into a ballerina as it dances through the dunes. It is extremely nimble once it gets going, the steering feedback is precise and it turns on a dime. The four-wheel drive system and traction control systems quickly adapt to the conditions, allowing forward momentum in the trickiest of conditions.

 

Summary

Everything this vehicle does is effortless. Soft sand, no problem. Day long road trips, no problem. Tricky 4x4 terrain, no problem. The Patrol is for those buyers that require an SUV that is big on features, opulence, style and exclusivity without losing any off-road efficiency

 

Every time I drive a Patrol we are left wondering why they are not better sellers in South Africa. Sure it is a pricey SUV but that pricing is in line with vehicles like the top spec Toyota Land Cruiser 200, which sells in considerable amounts.

 

In our opinion the Patrol remains an extremely undervalued and under appreciated player in the South African market and we cannot understand why. It is an extremely capable vehicle, it utilises a superb power plant, it is spacious and it certainly has presence. If you want to go off-road in luxury this is the car for you.

 

Pricing starts at R1 515 700.