THE GU PA­TROL

4 x 4 Australia - - History -

WHEN the new GU Pa­trol (Y61) ar­rived in Aus­tralia in late1997, it boasted all-new sleek body­work that was a far cry from the dated and boxy-look­ing GQ, which could trace its lin­eage to the MQ that first saw the light of day back in 1980. But un­der the GU’S new skin lurked a fa­mil­iar plat­form – the ‘new’ GU was es­sen­tially a GQ Pa­trol with new clothes.

De­spite the chas­sis, sus­pen­sion and driv­e­line sim­i­lar­i­ties, the GU Pa­trol was a big im­prove­ment over its pre­de­ces­sor, of­fer­ing a wider body that de­liv­ered much more in­te­rior space, greater re­fine­ment, im­proved NVH (noise, vi­bra­tion and harsh­ness) lev­els, bet­ter aero­dy­nam­ics and a vastly more com­fort­able in­te­rior. On the down­side, the GU was sig­nif­i­cantly heav­ier than the GQ, and when it first landed the GU Pa­trol was only avail­able with Nis­san’s new TB45E 4.5-litre OHV petrol six, mated to ei­ther a five-speed man­ual gear­box or four-speed auto. And while the petrol six-pack of­fered de­cent per­for­mance on the road and a good spread of torque (145kw at 4000rpm; 350Nm at 4300rpm), it was thirsty and not at all aligned with the mar­ket that Nis­san had pre­vi­ously cul­ti­vated with Pa­trol, which in the lat­ter years of the GQ model was heav­ily skewed to­wards diesel sales.

Fur­ther lim­it­ing the chance of early sales suc­cess, the GU Pa­trol was ini­tially launched in just ST and Ti model vari­ants; there was no longer the wildly pop­u­lar (and af­ford­able) RX ver­sion, and the base-spec DX model was not due to ap­pear un­til around mid-1998.

The first of the GU Pa­trol oil burn­ers was the RD28ETI, which was an elec­tron­i­cally in­jected and in­ter­cooled ver­sion of the GQ Pa­trol’s 2.8-litre turbo-diesel six. Claimed power was up to 95kw at 4000rpm and torque up to 252Nm at 2000rpm, but in the GU Pa­trol the en­gine had to deal with an ad­di­tional 230kg of weight com­pared to the GQ. Un­for­tu­nately, the new turbo-diesel was not the most re­fined en­gine around; per­for­mance be­low 2000rpm was want­ing, and above that there was a sud­den surge as the tur­bocharger did its thing. Adding to the prob­lem was a light and overly sen­si­tive throt­tle that made smooth progress, par­tic­u­larly in bumpy off-road con­di­tions, some­what dif­fi­cult to achieve. The RD28ETI was ini­tially of­fered in DX ($39,950) and ST ($43,990) trim lev­els, with a five-speed man­ual trans­mis­sion the only gear­box choice.

When the TD42 4.2-litre nat­u­rally as­pi­rated diesel ver­sion of the GU Pa­trol DX was fi­nally launched in mid-1998, Nis­san quoted slightly more out­put than the en­gine de­vel­oped in its GQ ap­pli­ca­tion (up from 85kw to 91kw at 4000rpm and from 264Nm to 272Nm at 2000rpm). How­ever, with a heav­ier body to lug around, per­for­mance was some­what blunted. This diesel was also of­fered in cab-chas­sis and coil cab vari­ants of the GU, and in early 1999 th­ese util­ity mod­els were also the first to re­ceive the new TD42T, a tur­bocharged ver­sion of the TD42. The low-boost turbo boosted out­put to a mod­est 114kw and 330Nm and,

im­por­tantly, it didn’t af­fect the big diesel’s flex­i­ble low-rpm grunt. By mid-1999, the TD42T was made avail­able in Pa­trol ST wagon spec­i­fi­ca­tion, mak­ing it the most pow­er­ful diesel en­gine in its class (Toy­ota only of­fered the 1HZ in the 100 Se­ries Cruiser at this stage and was yet to re-in­tro­duce an elec­tron­i­cally in­jected ver­sion of the 1HD-FT).

In 2000, Nis­san fi­nally flicked the old RD28ETI 2.8-litre tur­bod­iesel six-pack in favour of an all-new four-cylin­der turbo-diesel en­gine called the ZD30. This was the first time a Pa­trol had been pow­ered by an en­gine that wasn’t a straight-six. With a claimed 116kw and 354Nm, the ZD30 promised a mod­ern al­ter­na­tive to the old-school TD42 and TD42T pow­er­plants, as well as an auto trans­mis­sion. How­ever, the new en­gine had a few grem­lins and it gained a rep­u­ta­tion for poor re­li­a­bil­ity. Prob­lems in­cluded fuel pump is­sues and pis­ton fail­ures, and Nis­san even­tu­ally in­creased the oil ca­pac­ity of the en­gine and low­ered the oil vis­cos­ity rat­ing in an at­tempt to re­solve the faults.

In 2001, Nis­san in­creased the ca­pac­ity of the GU’S petrol en­gine to a whop­ping 4.8 litres. It was thirsty, but it de­vel­oped an im­pres­sive 185kw and chunky 420Nm, giv­ing it class-lead­ing per­for­mance.

The TD42T was given an in­ter­cooler in 2003 and re­named TD42TI, and while power out­put re­mained un­changed at 114kw, torque was up slightly to 360Nm. Back-to-back test­ing back in 2003 showed that the more mod­ern ZD30 had a slight per­for­mance edge over the TD42TI, but the lat­ter felt more re­fined. Its leg­endary re­li­a­bil­ity and sim­plic­ity (the only elec­tronic com­po­nent on the TD42TI in­jec­tion pump was a throt­tle-po­si­tion sen­sor that in­ter­acted with the EGR valve) made it more suited to re­mote out­back travel. Hav­ing said that, the TD42TI could get quite hot when driven in soft sand, but fit­ting a big­ger af­ter­mar­ket ra­di­a­tor was an easy fix.

The GU Pa­trol re­ceived its most sig­nif­i­cant vis­ual makeover to­wards the end of 2004, scor­ing re­vised body­work and a new in­te­rior. The ST and Ti mod­els also re­ceived larger-di­am­e­ter 17-inch wheels, and Nis­san put some ef­fort into NVH im­prove­ments. The 3.0-litre ZD30 turbo-diesel also came in for some up­grades, with im­prove­ments to the in­jec­tor pump de­sign, re­vised in­jec­tor noz­zles, re­duced en­gine fric­tion, an ECU tweak and larger ex­haust di­am­e­ter. Power was up slightly to 118kw at 3600rpm and torque (in man­ual vari­ants) in­creased to 380Nm at 2000rpm (au­tos re­mained at 354Nm).

With the demise of the TD42 and TD42T en­gines in 2006, the ZD30 be­came the only diesel op­tion for GU Pa­trol buy­ers, with the most re­cent ver­sion hav­ing a com­mon-rail in­jec­tion sys­tem. In 2013, the in­tro­duc­tion of the new petrol-only in­de­pen­dent sus­pen­sion Y62 Pa­trol her­alded the demise of the GU ’s 4.8-litre petrol six, mean­ing the only re­main­ing GU en­gine op­tion, in both wag­ons and utes, was the four-cylin­der ZD30.

De­spite the smart new body­work, the GU Pa­trol car­ried over many of the un­der­pin­nings of the GQ.

Cur­rent GU in­te­rior is a big step up from the GQ.

in lux­ury and De­spite a big step up diesel op­tion – re­fine­ment – and no off-roader. the Y62 is still a ca­pa­ble

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