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.

4 x 4 Australia - - Contents - WORDS MATT RAUDONIKIS PHO­TOS MICHAEL HURREN

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).

POWER PLUS

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.

CABIN FEVER

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.

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