It’s child’s play in a Pa­trol

The Nis­san Pa­trol makes light work of any­thing on the hitch, whether it’s the big­gest car­a­van on the mar­ket or a cargo plane.

Go! Camp & Drive - - TOW TEST - Text and photos Leon Botha

The Nis­san Pa­trol re­minds you of that big guy in ma­tric you didn’t want to mess with. You made sure you were friends be­cause with him at your side you didn’t have to worry about any­one else. For 4x4 en­thu­si­asts and car­a­van­ners, the Nis­san Pa­trol is that guy: When you get be­hind the wheel of this mon­ster noth­ing and no one is go­ing to stand in your way. And the Pa­trol truly is a mon­ster – at 2,7 t it’s one of the heav­i­est SUVs on our roads and there isn’t a car­a­van in the coun­try it can’t tow.

A weighty af­fair

The Pa­trol is big in­side and out – the black test ve­hi­cle we drove looked like some­thing used to trans­port a politi­cian and his six body­guards.

Be­tween the two front seats there’s more than a ruler’s length of space and there are cuphold­ers for big and small cans – if you’re some­one who en­joys an energy drink. Be­tween the seats there’s also a cooler with enough space for six 500 ml bot­tles. Be­sides the grille, the Pa­trol’s body­work has chrome fin­ishes like the V8 badge on each fender. You’d think this V8 en­gine with its 5,6 ℓ ca­pac­ity would be better suited in a hotrod, but this is what makes the heavy body move so ef­fort­lessly. It’s so will­ing you com­pletely for­get about the car­a­van on the tow bar.

When you pull away at a traf­fic light its brute power pushes you into the seat as if you’re in a plane that’s tak­ing off. You can’t help but worry that you might have pulled the car­a­van’s chas­sis out from un­der­neath its body. Luck­ily car­a­van­ners aren’t in such a hurry, but ac­cel­er­at­ing (at any speed) and over­tak­ing other cars hap­pens with the snap of a fin­ger.

The new­est model is the sev­enth gen­er­a­tion Pa­trol. Nis­san ap­pointed the Pa­trol its strong­man back in 2013. With 560 Nm and 298 kW, the Pa­trol hitched a cargo plane weigh­ing 170 t and towed it for 100 m. It was a new Guin­ness world record for the heav­i­est ob­ject towed with a pro­duc­tion ve­hi­cle.

And Nis­san makes it eas­ier for prospec­tive buy­ers by pro­duc­ing just one ver­sion.

Where’s the hitch?

For such an ex­cel­lent and lux­u­ri­ous 4x4 ve­hi­cle you’d ex­pect a tow bar to come stan­dard, but it’s ac­tu­ally op­tional. It costs roughly R7 000 ex­tra and is of the per­ma­nently fixed type that doesn’t swing out elec­tri­cally. The hitch is man­u­fac­tured in the Czech

When you pull away at the traf­fic lights its brute power pushes you into the seat as if you’re in a plane that’s tak­ing off.

Republic and has a D-value of 17,2 kN – that refers to the spe­cific cargo test on the hitch and is equiv­a­lent to 1 754 kg. The nose weight is lim­ited to 140 kg.

A sec­tion of the tow bar pro­trudes from be­hind the body and the ball it­self is fixed to a goose neck arm. This means you can’t use a drop plate if you want to ad­just the ball height. The on­board com­puter doesn’t reg­is­ter when you plug the car­a­van into the har­ness. So, when you re­verse the park sen­sors think you’re go­ing to crash into some­thing. Luck­ily there’s a but­ton on the re­verse cam­era screen that you use to switch the alarm off.

Sim­plic­ity is the key to suc­cess

In this price range you’ll find a lot of com­puter-gen­er­ated in­stru­men­ta­tion. It doesn’t ap­pear as if Nis­san is both­ered by this and in­stead stuck with con­ven­tional ana­logue di­als. This in­cludes a gauge on the left that dis­plays the oil pres­sure and the charge level of the bat­tery. This gauge mea­sures 8-18 V, with 10,5–15,5 V the stan­dard read­out. In the mid­dle of the dash­board is a small dig­i­tal screen that looks like some­thing out of the Eight­ies. It’s sim­ple but it does show you what you need to know: from the range re­main­ing to the fuel con­sump­tion. It’ll also alerts you when a door isn’t closed prop­erly and dis­plays the am­bi­ent tem­per­a­ture.

As soon as the ana­logue gauge shows the fuel tank is empty you’re go­ing to fork out more than R2 000 at the fill­ing sta­tion be­cause the car has a mas­sive 140 ℓ tank. Still, the Pa­trol’s fuel con­sump­tion with a car­a­van in tow isn’t too crip­pling con­sid­er­ing its size:

22,2 ℓ/100 km (4,5 km/ℓ), which means you get just over 600 km on a tank. (That’s R3 per kilo­me­tre.) The mus­tard leather up­hol­stery looks like it be­longs in a mil­lion­aire’s man­sion. You have to pull the sun­roof’s blind back man­u­ally if you want to let sun­light in, and un­like many other ve­hi­cles in this class it doesn’t have an elec­tric park­ing brake. The Pa­trol has a pedal to the left that you step on to se­cure the park­ing brake.

The kids will also not com­plain about the long road ahead. Be­hind both front seat head­rests there’s a small flat-screen TV with a DVD player in the front con­sole. Each of the screens have their own cord­less ear­phones with one re­mote con­trol for both. So if your teen daugh­ter prefers to plug in her smart­phone’s USB socket to lis­ten to the lat­est chart-toppers, she can do it on her screen. >

NIS­SAN PA­TROL 5.6 V8 LE

EV­ERY­THING YOU NEED. The Pa­trol has a big body, but you won’t see un­nec­es­sary clut­ter. It’s stylish and you can tell just by look­ing at it how pow­er­ful it is.

LAP OF LUXURY. An­i­mated lines on the screen in­di­cate in which di­rec­tion the wheels are turned. Be­tween the seats is a large cooler box and the kids can watch TV at the back.

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