MAGALIESBURG, Gauteng – It’s not often a manufacturer has the chance to introduce a new vehicle that essentially needs no introduction. Yes, the Nissan Patrol is a heavyweight, go-anywhere vehicle that has been around since the 1950s. And the latest model is finally in South Africa.
Now in its sixth generation, this version of the Patrol has been available in some overseas markets for many years. Now fully modernised to current expectations of luxury and safety, it remains slightly old-school in a manner preferred by customers who require a vehicle for long trips, often away from civilisation or repair centres.
The single derivative on offer boasts various mod cons as standard and is fitted with a naturally aspirated V8 petrol engine delivering 298 kW and 560 N.m of torque through a seven-speed automatic gearbox. The reason for the lack of a diesel option is simply because there isn’t one available. The apparent trend towards phasing out diesel and then petrol would, in theory, eventually leave us with electric power alone. This might be tricky for overland vehicles such as the Patrol, but that’s for the future to thrash out.
The eight-cylinder engine has hydraulically adjustable valve timing plus electrically controlled lift to compensate for less dense air at high altitudes. Drive is normally to the rear wheels, but the system automatically switches to all-wheel drive when necessary. In addition, a low-range transfer case with various off-road programmes can be selected via controls in the centre console.
Appearance wise, the Patrol has an imposing presence with reasonably attractive styling (much better than the Infiniti QX80 with which it shares its underpinnings), although the rear lighting is quite heavy on the bling. While the sheer size makes it tricky to park, even with the camera aids, it does serve up a special interior with supple leather upholstery (in a beige/biscuit or black hue), loads of legroom and three smaller seats at the back – making for a total of eight pews, although it is officially still classed as a seven-seater.
The powered tailgate opens to reveal something unusual for a seven- or eight-seater with all perches in use – there is still some luggage space on offer. A full-size spare wheel is mounted under the body, while the suspension comprises a double-wishbone independent setup all round and is enhanced by hydraulic body motion control.
The Patrol boasts a plethora of modern safety features, including blind-spot detection, lane-departure warning and automatic braking to avoid collisions. A 360-degree camera view helps the driver to safely guide the massive vehicle and a rear-view camera image can be displayed in the rear-view mirror. Plenty of small touches, such as sun-visor extensions, can also be found in the cabin.
There are USB and 12V outlets in various places and a DVD system for rear-seat passengers ships standard, along with a sunroof, triple-zone climate control and electrically adjustable front seats that are both heated and cooled. The large centre armrest furthermore houses a refrigerated cooler box.
On the road, the Patrol is extremely comfortable and easy to drive with effortless acceleration accompanied by a just-audible V8 note. With seven ratios, there is often plenty of cog-swapping taking place, but more gentle use of the throttle does mitigate this.
The braking system is up to hauling the 2,8 tonnes to a stop, while there is little body roll round bends, thanks largely to the hydraulically compensating suspension. We achieved a sub eight-second zero to 100 km/h sprint time with the similarly engined QX80, so this Patrol will likely also be no slouch. Also important with the Patrol is its towing ability, which comes in at a claimed 3 500 kg. The 140-litre fuel tank should provide sufficient range, too.
Unlike the QX80 with 21-inch wheels we tested in November 2015, Nissan has sensibly decided to fit what just may be perfect-sized wheels to the Patrol. These are 18-inchers with a tyre (Bridgestone Dueler A/T) size of 265/70 R18. This provides a cosseting ride that includes an admirable ability to soak up bad potholes and bumps. We did some serious off-road rock-crawling and the only thing that might be missed is the inability to adjust the ride height for scaling really large rocks.
So, who will buy the new Patrol? Well, this vehicle may be considered by those who need to tow large caravans (or boats), serial overlanders and politicians with a penchant for flashing blue lights. And it’ll certainly be up to all three jobs…
Price:R1 299 000
0-100 km/h:7,5 seconds (est)
Top Speed:210 km/h
Fuel Consumption:14,4 L/100 km
Maintenance Plan:3-year 90 000 km service plan