Rock Legend

Nis­san’s out­go­ing Pa­trol gets dressed up and still goes hard on the tough­est tracks

Herald Sun - Cars Guide - - LAST DRIVE - CRAIG DUFF craig.duff@news.com.au

LEG­ENDS grow taller in the telling. The Y61 se­ries of the Nis­san Pa­trol, on sale since 1997, has earned a rep­u­ta­tion as a rugged off-roader.

The ven­er­a­ble Pa­trol of­froader is about to fall vic­tim to Euro 5 emis­sions laws and the need for a safety over­haul to give it a five-star rat­ing.

Sim­ply put, Nis­san doesn’t sell enough here to jus­tify the in­vest­ment on a global level — and it has a re­place­ment at hand in the newer Y62 — which in­stead of a live axle has in­de­pen­dent sus­pen­sion and re­places the 3.0-litre turbo diesel with a 5.6-litre petrol V8 matched to a seven-speed auto.

Rather than let the Y61 fade into the sun­set, Nis­san has added what it says is $10,000 worth of help to en­sure it re­tires as a folk hero. The 300 “Legend Edi­tion” ex­am­ples, with bull bar, winch, roof rack, snorkel, tow­bar, sat­nav and re­vers­ing cam­era, are priced from $57,990 drive-away for the five-speed man­ual and $60,990 on-road for the four-speed auto.

They’re a good thing, as a trip on the bil­lion-year-old rocks in the north­ern Flin­ders Ranges demon­strated. The Y61 scram­bled along rut­ted tracks from Leigh Creek to Arka­roola and gen­er­ally han­dled some of our old­est ter­rain with­out fuss.

On the flip side, we were joined by Y62s — thirst apart, a vastly bet­ter propo­si­tion. The Y62 starts at $69,990 plus on­roads but the ex­tra money shows in vastly bet­ter driv­ing man­ners on bi­tu­men or bush tracks, up­graded safety and an in­te­rior that makes the Y61 look and feel ar­chaic.

OFF THE ROAD

Arka­roola is a ge­o­log­i­cal relic, mak­ing it a fit­ting venue to farewell the 19-year-old Y61. That is an­cient in car years, though the Benz G-Wa­gen can lay claim to a longer lin­eage.

The Pa­trol copes with the flaky rock out­crops and tyre ruts with­out ever be­ing stressed but the oc­cu­pants feel ev­ery inch of ar­tic­u­la­tion, be it the wheels rolling over cor­ru­ga­tions or climb­ing a stepped track.

It isn’t the most com­fort­able driv­ing en­vi­ron­ment, par­tic­u­larly when you’ve just driven the Y62 over the same ter­rain with just as lit­tle fuss and far less shak­ing of the oc­cu­pants.

The new Pa­trol uses “Hy­draulic Body Mo­tion Con­trol” to quell the toss­ing mo­tion and it works a treat, reg­u­lat­ing how much pres­sure is sent to each shock de­pend­ing on load and speed.

The same ap­plies to the elec­tron­ics be­hind the four­wheel drive ro­tary dial and but­tons that re­place the trans­fer case se­lec­tor lever in the Y61.

Left in auto on chal­leng­ing climbs and de­scents, the Y62 was un­per­turbed when left to sort out how much power to put where. Oc­ca­sion­ally, it could have ben­e­fited from se­lec­tion of the “rock” set­ting to im­prove low-speed throt­tle con­trol.

The cabin also lacks the rat­tles and squeaks ev­i­dent in the Y61 and the air­con fan doesn’t drown out con­ver­sa­tion. There’s also no dust on the fan vents, some­thing that be­came quickly ev­i­dent in the ear­lier model.

What does the Y61 have go­ing for it? It has the rugged look with Legend gear bolted on and still packs a diesel, which many con­sider manda­tory in a se­ri­ous off-roader.

Two fuel tanks hold 125L and, on the auto’s claimed thirst of 11.8L/100km, you’re good for more than 1000km. How­ever, given how hard the diesel needs to be pushed to main­tain high­way speeds on any kind of gra­di­ent, don’t ex­pect that range.

The four-speed auto strug­gles to over­come mo­men­tum much be­yond 80km/h and feels as if it is work­ing hard. It’s rated to tow 2800kg (3200kg for the man­ual) but the fuel con­sump­tion with a heavy load could be con­fronting.

In di­rect con­trast, the V8 pulls ef­fort­lessly to 100km/h and then purrs along even up mod­er­ate slopes. The sound is muted, the per­for­mance far from it — there’s enough torque from 1600rpm to shift the 2.7-tonne SUV with real pace.

The down­side is claimed thirst of 14.4L/100km … again, don’t ex­pect to get close if you’re toy­ing with the en­gine’s po­ten­tial or com­ing near its 3500kg tow limit.

The Y62 also has six airbags; there are two in its pre­de­ces­sor.

VER­DICT

Some will shed a tear for the Y61; oth­ers will re­sort to the Y62’s Amer­i­can­ised looks and big V8 and be hap­pier for it, es­pe­cially if they’re tow­ing types. It mightn’t have leg­endary sta­tus but the new ve­hi­cle is more than ca­pa­ble of carv­ing out its own rep­u­ta­tion.

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