THE GU PATROL
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