4WORD

4 x 4 Australia - - Contents - MATT RAUDONIKIS

IN THE 4X4 Shed up­date on our Nis­san Pa­trol this month I talk about not miss­ing some­thing un­til it’s gone. In spe­cific, the many com­fort and con­ve­nience fea­tures of the TI-L Pa­trol that many po­ten­tial buy­ers would deem un­nec­es­sary, but are taken for granted when you drive such a car. I just got back into the Pa­trol af­ter a month of driv­ing a slew of gut­less mid-sized utes, and the idea of not miss­ing it ’til it’s gone couldn’t ring truer.

From the ease of en­try through a big door open­ing, to a spa­cious and well-ap­pointed cabin, and then that stonk­ing 5.6-litre V8 per­for­mance, the Pa­trol is a very hard act to fol­low in­deed. Es­pe­cially when you con­sider that none of the pop­u­lar 4x4 utes can match the Pa­trol in any of these as­pects.

We share our of­fices with the crews from Wheels and MO­TOR mag­a­zines and I of­ten hear the terms per­for­mance utes and sports utes bandied around the joint. Back when Ford and Holden were still mak­ing great two-wheel-drive utes locally you could get away with such terms, but you can’t ap­ply it to any of the fac­tory pro­duc­tion 4x4 utes. Those 2WD Ford and Holden utes proved there is a mar­ket for hot-rod ver­sions of them and again, they are missed now that they are gone.

While many 2WD ute buy­ers may be switch­ing to 4x4 mid-size utes, they’ll be sorely dis­ap­pointed by the per­for­mance of the lazy diesel en­gines. It as­tounds me why the man­u­fac­tur­ers haven’t brought out petrol,v8-pow­ered vari­ants to serve the mar­ket what it is sorely miss­ing. Thank­fully the af­ter­mar­ket is an­swer­ing the call, but it isn’t the same – or af­ford­able, for some.

Ford, Holden, Nis­san and Toy­ota all have modern V8 en­gines that would slot right into the cur­rent crop of 4x4 utes, but none of them have the balls to do it. Gen­eral Mo­tors has in its LS/LT range of petrol V8s – what is ar­guably the best, most ver­sa­tile in­ter­nal-com­bus­tion en­gine ever made – and it goes well into any ve­hi­cle, 4x4 utes in­cluded.

The modern GM V8 is rel­a­tively light and com­pact thanks to its alu­minium block and heads and sin­gle cam-in-block con­struc­tion. There’s no bulk of over­head camshafts, no un­nec­es­sary and un­re­li­able tur­bocharg­ers to get in the way or fail, and no bloody DPFS, Ad­blue or other crap to mess you around. Just pure, ef­fi­cient per­for­mance.

In the mean­time, the car com­pa­nies will serve up an­other Black Edi­tion or sticker pack ute to fool the masses.

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