2021 Nissan Patrol Nismo
– Retains old-school V8
– Cabin space and ambience
– Improved handling
– Expensive for minor upgrade
– Offroad ability slightly reduced
– Firmer ride than regular Patrol
The Y62-generation Nissan Patrol has largely remained unchanged since its 2010, but the occasional updates it does receive are done well enough to keep it relevant within its target market. One such update was the introduction of the Nismo trim a few years ago, which amounted to a minor power bump, a body kit, a reupholstery and a tweaking of the suspension. That formula continues with the latest Nismo based on the 2020 facelifted Patrol LE Platinum.
Despite looking like a minor change, the number of unique Nismo parts if extensive. Changes include smoked LED-integrated headlights, smoked LED tail lights, a smoked-chrome grille with Nismo badging, a lower front bumper with bigger scoops and red trim, a longer rear bumper with faux vents and even more fake exhaust tips on both sides, wheel-well arches, redone side steps and unique 22-inch forged-alloy wheels. The new version retains its roof rails, and is certainly a more cohesive look than the preceding Nismo.
Stepping up into the high cabin is made easy with the standard side-steps. The familiar interior is now trimmed with a mixture of black or red materials, among them padded leather and alcantara. The colour combo is far better than the old model’s easily-dirtied white upholstery. The seats are partially quilted, with Nismo badging and red stitching/tubing. The plush carpets and carbon-fibre trim keep the theme dark. The rpm gauge gets a red backing, while aluminium pedals have been added.
The pricey Patrol Nismo is fully optioned up with everything that a Platinum LE has, with features such as the dual-touchscreen layout, larger LCD screen between the gauges, navigation, around-view 4-camera system, front/rear parking sensors, dual rear DVD screens, ventilated power-adjustable front seats, intelligent key with starter button, remote start, USB port, Bluetooth, Apply Carplay, adaptive cruise control, good stereo, power tailgate, blind-spot monitoring, cross-traffic alert, tyre-pressure monitor, a full set of airbags, a strong tri-zone auto a/c with rear roof vents all the way to the third row, and the world’s tiniest sunroof. Oddly enough, the wireless charger has been skipped.
Being a Patrol, 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.
Even with all that, the Patrol is currently the second-smallest “large” SUV you can currently get, after the nearly-midsize Toyota Land Cruiser. It’s a “growing” segment, thanks to the Americans.
The direct-injection 5.6-litre V8 from the previous Nismo carries over — the same one that Nissan claims is “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 remains refined and ultra-smooth, making 428 hp at 5800 rpm and 560 Nm of torque from 3600 rpm to 4800 rpm.
Obviously, this also means the new model is no quicker than the older one. And it will still get outrun by a turbo Ford Expedition Platinum on the open road.
What the Ford will never have is the Nismo Patrol’s road respect, as it looks as expensive as its price tag. While it isn’t faster, it is still fast enough for a big SUV. With “Super-98” petrol, it can manage the 0-100 kph run in 7.3 seconds on a good day, and burn 17 litres/100 km (5.9 km/litre) of fuel on average.
On-throttle, the Patrol does not sound any louder than the regular LE, so the exhaust system is clearly unchanged. The V8’s low and mid-range torque are solid.
As before, the Nismo-tuned independent suspension has Nissan’s Hydraulic Body Motion Control (HBMC) system and uses Bilstein shock absorbers, but while the previous Nismo had a firmer jittery ride, we feel the new model is smoother than before, and isn’t as big of a compromise over a standard Patrol.
The Nismo Patrol clearly handles better than any other Patrol, with slightly less body roll and a bit better body control on directional transitions, although it’s still nowhere near as agile as even the most basic European luxo-SUVs. The slightly vague steering, limited feedback from the controls, mild suspension floatiness and stock brakes cannot be dialled out from what was intended to be a comfort-biased platform. 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. The Nismo does not lose any ground clearance, but its approach and departure angles are obviously compromised by the funky bumpers.
So while you can still manage dune-bashing to some degree, you have to be self-aware and take care not to hit overly-steep slopes hard.
Following the formula set by the first one, the second iteration of the Patrol Nismo looks great, handles a bit tighter, and even manages some level of offroading. But it doesn’t go far enough in the sporting direction while giving up some of its offroad prowess in the process. On paper, there isn’t a compelling reason to buy one, but given how it commands respect on the road — a rep earned over a lifetime of Patrols making other people move out of the way somehow or the other — the stylish Nismo Patrol is a guaranteed hit.
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