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.
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 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 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.
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.