– Superb direct-injection V8
– Cabin space and ambience
– Onroad and offroad comfort
– Pricey with options
– Big, huge and enormous
– Side airbags not standard
The redesigned Nissan Patrol debuted as a 2010 model, taking on the flagship 4×4 mantle from the long-running Y61-generation Patrol Safari. Except that it didn’t, because Nissan decided to sell the all-new Y62-gen Patrol alongside the old rough-and-tumble model. Nissan figured they’ll leave the old one for those who still want one, as the pricier new Patrol had moved up a class in terms of refinement and luxury. And that is exactly why we found it all the more appealing, enough for us to buy one.
The massive Y62-gen Patrol received a minor facelift in 2014. Changes include LEDs within the headlights, a new front bumper and new tube-style LED tail lights as well as new wheel designs. It’s not the most attractive of SUVs, but the look grows on you as these newer models are as common as Sunnys.
Our car is the 400 hp LE version, but one step above the base LE, so externally, it has the offroad-ready bumper, 20-inch alloys and no roof rails. It doesn’t have some of the chrome trim of the higher-spec Platinum models as well, but those are available as accessories from the dealer anyway.
Stepping up into the cabin is made easier with the standard side-steps. The interior is trimmed very nicely, as it should be at its high price-point, with padded stitched-leatherette all over the dash and door armrests and tons of faux wood trim. Our car has cloth upholstery on the seats and upper door panels, with soft-touch surfaces on parts of the dash and even the bottom half of the doors. Leather is standard on top models, but can be optionally dealer-installed on lower versions. Even the carpets are almost as plush as a thick bath mat. It easily has the most premium interior in the segment, leagues ahead of its most obvious rival.
Our car thankfully also has the integrated stereo with the colour 7-inch LCD screen in the centre-console, with a rear camera and all-round parking sensors sharing the display, with attractively-designed controls below it. Lower-spec models get a generic 2-DIN head unit cut into the dash, and base models don’t even have a screen. The Platinum models get an 8-inch touchscreen that includes navigation and the fancy around-view 4-camera setup.
The Patrol delivers on the tech front if you pay for it, with options such as dual rear DVD screens, ventilated power-adjustable front seats, blind-spot monitoring, 9.3-GB hard drive, tyre-pressure monitor, a full set of airbags and more. However, our car has none of that, making do with a 2-GB memory, a power driver’s seat, stability control and only two front airbags. The lack of standard side airbags at this price-point is unfortunate, but we’ve made peace with it, as they can be unpredictable in offroading, and our kids don’t require them when strapped into proper child seats.
We do appreciate features in our car such the intelligent key with starter button, remote start, HID headlights with LED running lamps, USB port, Bluetooth, cruise control, good stereo, power tailgate and the strong tri-zone auto a/c with rear roof vents all the way to the third row. What we didn’t like are the ancient LCD graphics in the gauge-cluster info screen, the blank “buttons” for missing options, and what has to be the world’s tiniest sunroof.
The Patrol’s ridiculous outer size translates into a cabin as big as a villa. Space up front is immense, with big sofa seats and a wide central console big enough for the six-bottle cooler box that can be accessed from the front as well as from the back seats. Rear legroom is also immense, with reclining seat-backs and room to stretch your legs. Even the third row is decently spacious, with regular-sized people easily fitting back there for long trips, but taller folks will have issues, as the second-row seats don’t slide front and back. Access to the last row is also easy thanks to flip-front second-row seats at the pull of a lever.
Cargo volume with all rows in use isn’t a lot, but still good enough to hold a week’s groceries or a couple of prams upright. The third row 50/50 split-folds “almost” flat, making for gigantic boot space. The second-row seats also fold down to create pretty much a van. And all passengers get a good number of cup-holders spread about, as well as various covered storage cubbies and some under-floor storage in the boot.
The direct-injection 5.6-litre V8 engine is worth the price of upgrading to an LE from the lesser-powered SE version. With “VVEL” variable-valve timing technology and a smooth manually-shiftable 7-speed automatic gearbox, the Patrol LE’s motor is refined and ultra-smooth, making 400 hp at 5800 rpm and 560 Nm of torque at 4000 rpm. Using Super-98 petrol, our initial August test garnered a 0-100 kph time of 7.3 seconds, fairly decent for its size, although practically, it’s the low and mid-range torque that impresses on the daily drive. After breaking in the engine further, we timed it at 7.1 seconds in cool October weather.
We got a fuel consumption figure of 20.4 litres/100 km using 98-octane “Super” fuel, not impressive at all for this 2790-kg behemoth, but we suspect we can get it down to 16 litres/100 km once the fresh engine is broken in further.
The all-wheel-drive Patrol LE comes with four-wheel-independent suspension and, more importantly, the hydraulic body motion control (HBMC) system that replaces the stabiliser bars on all but the base version. The Patrol SE does not get HBMC. Unlike some rivals, the Patrol does not have height-adjustable suspension, even as an option. Still, the fixed height is fine, easy to climb into with side steps, but still towering in terms of ground clearance, the latter more so than a Toyota Land Cruiser.
The Patrol rides almost as well as a Rolls-Royce, with only the slightest jitter on occasion that hints at its body-on-frame construction. It is fairly silent, somewhat quieter and smoother than the Toyota Land Cruiser, and on par with certain rivals such as the Ford Expedition Platinum.
The trick HBMC suspension is noticeable in hard cornering and quick direction changes. The body starts to sway, just like in a basic Land Cruiser or Tahoe, and then gets quelled after a second or so. Body roll is never allowed to be prominent, yet it can occasionally still feel wallowy when suddenly diving into a curve. If you manage the fairly-light steering smoothly, it’s possible to hustle through the long curves quicker than you’d expect. However, the 275/60 tyres start squealing rather early, safely understeering to remind you that this is not a small car, let alone a sports car. At least the ABS-assisted disc brakes are very good, with fair pedal feel.
As for offroading, all the required gear is there, including a selector for 4-high and 4-low as well as a terrain-select system with settings for sand, rock and what not, as well as a rear diff-lock, Hill Descent Control, Hill Start Assist and an ESP-off button. While it may not take a beating as well as the old Patrol, it clearly has the ground clearance, the hardware and the power to manage dune-bashing to some degree, assuming you know what you’re doing and don’t try to jump it like you saw in the TV commercial. Generally, reported mishaps with the new Patrol always seem to involve someone choosing the wrong terrain-management setting, which also has a habit of resetting the default nannies every time you restart the car. So if you’re new to offroad electronics or big-wheelbase cars, you may want to take it easy until you learn how to handle them.
The Patrol is quite possibly the best in its class, even after half a decade in the market. It’s more expensive than the Americans, but still cheaper than the smaller Toyota Land Cruiser. In an earlier review a couple of years ago, we said the reason we didn’t pick one up ourselves is its immense size, which makes it impossible to fit in certain tight parking lots, but after two kids and regularly-visiting extended family, we can suddenly see the appeal of its size and bought one, even if we have to think twice before entering most underground parking garages.
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