2017 Nissan Patrol Nismo
– Superb direct-injection V8
– Cabin space and ambience
– Improved handling
– Expensive for minor upgrade
– Big, huge and enormous
– Firm ride on some surfaces
The Y62-generation Nissan Patrol debuted as a 2010 model, reinventing itself as a premium SUV that still tackled dunes quite capably. Taking the fight to the Toyota Land Cruiser and beating its Japanese rival in terms of refinement and luxury, the Patrol quickly started climbing in the Middle East sales charts, especially after the 2014 facelift. But someone somewhere figured the top-spec 400 hp Patrol just wasn’t enough of a flagship. And we assume that’s how the Patrol Nismo was born.
The massive Y62-gen Patrol receives an extensive makeover in Nismo trim. Changes include smoked LED-integrated headlights, smoked LED tail lights, a pre-facelift grille with smoked chrome and Nismo badging, a lower front bumper with bigger scoops and red trim, a longer rear bumper with fake vents and two large exhaust tips on one side, wheel-well arches, redone side steps and unique 22-inch forged-alloy wheels. In the process, it loses the rear pintle hook and the roof rails, in keeping with its “sporty” theme. And it certainly does look much more interesting than the regular Patrol, and only got positive comments from bystanders.
Stepping up into the high cabin is made easy with the standard side-steps. The familiar 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. For the Nismo, the dash and doors are mostly black, with all the leather bits done mostly in hard-to-keep-clean white. The seats are quilted with Nismo badging and red stitching/tubing. There are soft-touch surfaces on upper parts of the dash and even the bottom half of the doors, as with all Patrols. The plush carpets and faux wood trim are black. The rpm gauge and the touchscreen get a red backing, while aluminium pedals have been added. Oddly enough, the standard chrome trim on the centre-console is left intact in this otherwise “sporty” interior.
The Patrol Nismo is fully optioned up on the tech front, with features such as an 8-inch touchscreen for the strong stereo with nicely laid-out controls below it, navigation, 9.3-GB hard drive, around-view 4-camera system that even shows steering angle, front/rear parking sensors, dual rear DVD screens, ventilated power-adjustable front seats, intelligent key with starter button, remote start, USB port, Bluetooth, adaptive cruise control, good stereo, power tailgate, blind-spot monitoring, cross-traffic alert, tyre-pressure monitor, a full set of airbags and a 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 cheap “carbon-fibre” cover for the smart-key, and what has to be the world’s tiniest sunroof.
As with all Patrols, the massive 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 abundant, 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 van-like volume. 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 has been “hand-tuned by takumi” to gain just 28 hp over the Patrol LE’s motor as well as an improvement in torque distribution over the rev range. With variable-valve timing technology and a smooth manually-shiftable 7-speed automatic gearbox, this engine is refined and ultra-smooth, making 428 hp at 5800 rpm and 560 Nm of torque from 3600 rpm to 4800 rpm (compared to the same amount of torque peaking at 4000 rpm in the LE)
Our March test netted a 0-100 kph time of 7.3 seconds, pretty good in itself, but no quicker than our Patrol LE. It’s possible our tester was filled up with Special-95 rather than the required Super-98 petrol. Fuel consumption held steady at 17.9 litres/100 km as long as we didn’t go crazy with the throttle.
On-throttle, the Patrol does not sound any louder than the regular LE, so the exhaust system is clearly unchanged aside from the tips. Low and mid-range torque impresses on the daily drive. The Nismo-tuned independent suspension continues to have Nissan’s Hydraulic Body Motion Control (HBMC) system, but uses Bilstein shock absorbers and rides more stiffly than the LE, which is generally bearable but can get annoying over tarmac that isn’t glass-smooth. Otherwise, the Nismo is pretty quiet and easy to manage as the stiffer Nismo-tuned steering is still reasonably light.
The Nismo Patrol clearly handles better than any other Patrol, with slightly less body roll and a bit better body control on directional transitions. Combined with the improved steering and lower-profile tyres, it can be piloted around corners more confidently. However, it’s still nowhere near as agile as even the most basic European SUV, with a bit of vagueness in the steering, limited feedback from the controls, still-present suspension floatiness, and using the same brakes as the standard Patrol. It’s very easy to overwhelm the 275/50 tyres and induce squealing-rubber understeer when diving into corners. However, even at the limit, body roll is not excessive, and the brakes are decent.
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. It clearly still has the ground clearance, the hardware and the power to manage dune-bashing to some degree, assuming you know what you’re doing and take care not to hit the overly-steep slopes that will cause the fancy bumpers to dig into the sand. If you’re new to offroad electronics or big-wheelbase cars and want to go off-road, you may want to stick to the regular Patrol models which offer much better approach/departure angles.
And that’s the conundrum. The Patrol Nismo looks great, handles tighter, and even goes offroad. But it doesn’t go far enough in the sporting direction, rides a bit too firmly, and has given up some of its offroad prowess in the process. Mind you, the Patrol LE is still on our recommended list, but the main reason to pay the premium for a Nismo is for the exclusivity.
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