DRIV­ING IM­PRES­SION

Fans of the Nis­san Pa­trol had to wait eight years for the sixth-gen­er­a­tion model. Cyril Klop­per takes a look to see if it was worth it.

Go! Camp & Drive - - Contents -

The sixth-gen­er­a­tion Pa­trol was launched back in 2010 in Dubai, but Nis­san South Africa only de­cided re­cently to bring it to our shores. If it looks some­what fa­mil­iar it’s be­cause un­til re­cently it was mar­keted lo­cally as the In­fin­ity QX80. You might also have seen the Pa­trol on TV as the UN’s favourite run­about and wealthy Mid­dle East­ern oil ty­coons’ favourite sand buggy. The QX80 had classier fin­ishes and a dif­fer­ent grille, but be­sides that it was al­most ex­actly the same ve­hi­cle.

The ex­te­rior

The Pa­trol looks tamer than it’s fore­bears, but looks can be de­ceiv­ing. The styling might seem flimsy but un­der­neath that bulky body is a tough-as-nails lad­der frame chas­sis and beefy dou­ble wish­bone sus­pen­sion on each wheel that al­lows a sur­pris­ing amount of ar­tic­u­la­tion and travel. The body­work might look heavy and low-slung but the 272 mm ground clear­ance is bet­ter than many of its com­peti­tors (the Land Cruiser 200s has 230 mm). At 2 m wide and more than 5 m long, the new Pa­trol will fill an en­tire park­ing space and then some. You are def­i­nitely not go­ing to be able to park close to the mall’s main en­trance. Its 1,9 m high roof tow­ers over your head and the usu­ally large 18” wheels look tiny in the huge wheel arches. The very small sun­roof looks a tad out of place, like it was lifted straight from a Nis­san Juke. A large panoramic glass roof would have been so much bet­ter.

The in­te­rior

The Pa­trol’s in­te­rior is equally huge. It feels more like some­one’s lounge than the in­side of a car. Truth be told, the faux wood in­lays in the cabin re­minds you a bit of a lounge suite you’d find at Brad­lows. The mid­dle row has enough leg room so you can straighten your legs and the back­rest ad­justs so that Grandma and Grandpa can nap com­fort­ably. The third row of seats is wide enough for three, but there are only two seat belts. Be­tween Mom and Dad’s seats is a fridge that’s large enough for a packet of vi­en­nas and four cooldrinks. The lid of the fridge can be opened at the front or at the back.

Safety is­sues

There is an over­sup­ply of safety fea­tures. The Pa­trol will alert when you change lanes and there’s a ve­hi­cle in your blind spot, and the cruise con­trol will main­tain the fol­low­ing dis­tance be­tween you and the car in front of you. Sen­sors in the steer­ing wheel and ac­cel­er­a­tor can sense when you’re get­ting tired and will then en­cour­age you to rest. The Pa­trol will brake by it­self to avoid an ac­ci­dent if you don’t do it your­self and will also tighten the seat belt be­fore­hand. The Pa­trol also knows if you’re driv­ing too close to the white line and will then re­turn to the mid­dle of your lane. The rear-view mir­ror uses the re­verse cam­era to show an undis­turbed view of the back. But best of all is that you can switch these func­tions on and off when you want to.

Un­der the bon­net

Nis­san’s big 4.2 and 3.0 diesel en­gines are gone. There was no way that they could >

At 2 m wide and more than 5 m long, the new Pa­trol will fill up a stan­dard park­ing spot at the mall.

sat­isfy cur­rent emis­sion laws. The Pa­trol is now only avail­able with a 5.6 ℓ V8 petrol. Con­nected to the en­gine is a seven-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion with Adap­tive Shift Con­trol and Down­shift Rev Match­ing that makes gear changes smoother and also saves on fuel. It’s a mon­ster of an en­gine that pro­duces 298 kW and 560 Nm. So don’t be sur­prised if the 140 ℓ fuel tank doesn’t stay full for long. How does it drive? The 18” wheels are more prac­ti­cal than the al­most un­us­able 20” wheels found on the In­fin­ity. The ex­tra rub­ber on the treads al­low you to drive through pot­holes in­stead of around them. The hy­draulic sus­pen­sion also helps to keep the body­work up­right when you take sharp turns. As soon as there’s pres­sure on one side of the ve­hi­cle (like when you swerve) liq­uid au­to­mat­i­cally moves to that side to tighten the sus­pen­sion. It’s a sim­ple sys­tem but it pre­vents the body­work from lean­ing too much. A drive mode dial close to the gear lever has four modes for sand, rocks, snow, and a “on road” mode. The same dial switches be­tween high and low range and con­trols the rear diff lock. Un­der reg­u­lar con­di­tions the mid­dle diff lock di­rects most of the en­gine power to the rear axle, but power can be dis­trib­uted equally be­tween the axles. The V8 en­gine’s roar is im­pres­sive, and the ac­cel­er­a­tion when you put pedal to the metal is not to be sneezed at. The Pa­trol is by no means a race car, but it’s clear that this guy will be able to tow a dou­ble-axle car­a­van or a dou­ble-hull fish­ing boat with ease. In a nut­shell The new Pa­trol in stan­dard form doesn’t have a strik­ing ap­pear­ance but it comes into its own as soon as you add 33” mud tyres, a bull­bar, and a roof rack. If you com­pare the Pa­trol to the Toy­ota Land Cruiser 200 4.5D V8, you’ll save about R50 000 and you’ll also get a few gad­gets that the Toy­ota doesn’t have. The prob­lem is that the Toy­ota is ready to drive around the world while the Pa­trol gives with the im­pres­sion that it needs a few off-road bits – but that’s not nec­es­sar­ily a bad thing be­cause half the fun in own­ing an off-roader lies in kit­ting it out.

COMFY, YET CA­PA­BLE. At first glance the Pa­trol’s ground clear­ance doesn’t look ad­e­quate, but it’s ac­tu­ally more than most com­peti­tors have. The stan­dard Bridge­stone Duel­ers also do a fine job in the rough stuff.

NIS­SAN PA­TROL

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