DRIVEN: NISSAN PATROL Y62
The Y62 will soon be the only new Patrol available, so we took a spin in the price-slashed Patrol Ti.
BACK IN late 2015, Nissan repositioned its Patrol range – dropping from three variants to two and slicing close to $20,000 off the price of some models. The big Patrol has always been a good thing, but when entry-level meant forking out around $85K, most struggled to see the value in it. Now, starting at $69,990 with more standard equipment, the Patrol makes a lot more sense and has seen a bump in sales. It has been a few years since we last drove a Y62, and today we’re looking at the entry-level 2016 Patrol Ti (the up-spec TI-L is $86,990).
THE drivetrain in the 2016 Patrol range remains the same as when the model lobbed here early in 2013. That’s the stonking VK56 5.6-litre V8 engine backed by a seven-speed auto transmission only. The 5552cc V8 engine bellows out 298kw and 560Nm and is silky smooth in its delivery. The high-tech engine’s variable valve lift and duration system gives it a very linear power delivery and sporty characteristics, even if it is fitted in a massive off-road wagon. Fit a big-bore free-flowing exhaust to this baby and listen to it sing! Around town and on off-road tracks, the engine burbles along without a care, but squeeze the throttle for a steep mountain climb or a quick on-road squirt and it blasts out its exuberance.
However, no amount of tech can make this 2750kg offroad wagon fuel-efficient. The Ti has a 14.5L/100km official ADR rating, but it used 15.7 litres of premium unleaded fuel for every 100km we drove with it. Yes, the Nissan asks for premium fuel, and keeping its 140-litre tank full can be costly.
The Patrol uses an on-demand 4x4 system which, when in Auto mode, is rear-axle biased and only sends drive to the front when needed. Turn the All Mode 4x4 dial to ‘4H’ and the front-to-rear drive is locked 50:50 for loose road surface use. Turn it another click clockwise and the system enters low-range four-wheel drive for real off-road use. The drive system benefits from a multi-terrain system with Off-road, Sand, Snow and Rock settings, and there’s a selectable rear differential lock.
The system works well in most conditions, but it can be a bit slow to react if left to its own devices in Auto mode. For example, we were climbing a wet and snotty hill in Auto and the system struggled and sent limited power to the wheels. Simply flicking from Auto to 4H gave an instant boost in traction, as the Patrol surged onwards and upwards.
The original model range was mechanically differentiated by the inclusion of Hydraulic Body Motion Control (HBMC) on the two upper-spec models, while the entry-level model made do with conventional coils on its full-independent suspension. Both models now get the clever HBMC system, making the two grades mechanically identical. A Hbmc-equipped Ti Patrol used to be a $93,390 option, but it’s now much more attractive at $70K.
The real benefits of the HBMC system are experienced on a closed track, and we had that opportunity when the Patrol was first launched. Driving straight from a tight and tricky off-road track – where the stock Y62 crawled through easier than a stock GU Patrol – we went onto a closed road course, where the 62 astonished with is flat cornering and dynamics (considering its size and heft). Sure, it’s no sports car, and you can’t hide that mass, but it’s amazing how this thing handles. We had similar experiences on this test, where we went from wet and tricky tracks to twisting mountain roads with ease and confidence.
IF YOU like a big car, you’ll love the Patrol. It’s big all ’round and even makes a Land Cruiser 200 feel compact in comparison. Space in the front- and second-row seats is ample and comfortably accommodates five adults, but the thirdrow pew is more suited to kids, which is surprising when you consider smaller wagons like the Isuzu MU-X do a better job of the third row.
However, the Patrol wins again when you go further back – you could just about fit a 40-litre fridge behind the third-row seat. The Patrol Ti has seating for eight (with three shorties in the back seat), while the TI-L is limited to seven.
It’s amazing how this thing handles. We went from wet and tricky tracks to twisting mountain roads with ease and confidence
Ample space in the woodtrim-inspired interior. The latest sat-nav update includes real-time traffic monitoring.
Cramped third-row seats, but plenty of cargo space behind them.