NISSAN PATROL 5.6 V8 LE PREMIUM
Conquering the outdoors in luxury
WHEN ASKED TO IMAGINE SOME OF THE MOST ICONIC FOUR-BY-FOURS THAT HELPED SHAPE THE HISTORY OF OFF-ROADING IN AFRICA, TOYOTA’S LAND CRUISER, THE LAND ROVER DEFENDER AND THE NISSAN PATROL COME TO MIND. BERNIE HELLBERG HAS TESTED THEM ALL, THE LATEST BEING IN SOME RESPECTS, THE GREATEST OF THEM ALL.
When I was growing up, the sternest of off-roaders were those who drove one of three overland tools: the Nissan Patrol, the Toyota Land Cruiser, or the Land Rover Defender.
These boxy, functional, and unashamedly agricultural vehicles weren’t meant to look good, and they didn’t, but they certainly could go anywhere.
As the age of adventure gradually made way for the era of the leisure traveller, comfort, practicality, and luxury surpassed functionality as the primary purpose of the all-purpose off-roader. It should come as no surprise, then, that our three bundu behemoths have had to adapt or die and, in at least two of the cases, that is precisely what has happened.
NEW DIRECTION OR LAST
While the Landy Defender has been relegated to the annals of history – now thoroughly beaten to the top of the Land Rover food chain by their Discovery – both Toyota and Nissan persist with larger format off-roaders in an age where smaller, and lighter, SUVs and crossovers rule the roost.
To understand the thinking behind what seems like mounting odds against them, one could say that vehicles like the Cruiser 200 and Patrol are relics of a distant past where the fuel price lingered lazily around the R10-per-litre mark. Or you can see them for what they are: niche off-road tanks that exist only to be bigger, and more capable off the beaten track than anything else.
Do looks matter much? Probably not, but why should it when you’re literally the biggest SUV on the road? Should you care how thirsty they are? If you’re shopping at this end of the scale, you’re unlikely to be phased by something as mundane as fuel consumption.
All you need is to have enough power for every purpose, that your vehicle delivers on the level of luxury you’re paying for, and that it can conquer every bit of nasty terrain that you throw at it.
DRIVING THE PATROL
The new Patrol ticks all three needs boxes, mainly thanks to its 5.6-litre naturally aspirated V8 that obliterates any terrain with 298 kW of power and 560 Nm of raw torque. Considering the vehicle’s hefty 2,800 kg bulk, the Patrol is surprisingly powerful and noticeably so.
“ONE WOULD THINK THAT THE THOUGHT OF SITTING IN TRAFFIC IN SUCH A BEAST WOULD BE