Think first generation Ford Kuga, Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX and more recently, the Y62 Nissan Patrol, which has been available in other markets since 2010. I had a chance to drive the Patrol on local shores recently.
Let me just start off by saying that those looking for an SUV style icon should look elsewhere. The Patrol is a massive brute and its styling/packaging conveys this fact both inside and out. Up front, we see a familiar but heavily inflated version of the Nissan corporate grille, finished in chrome.
In side profile, it looks slightly awkward and boxy, despite the mildly flared wheel arches helping its cause. Unlike its Infiniti QX80 brethren, the Patrol comes with 18-inch alloy wheels as opposed to the 21-inch rollers. The rear-end look is dominated by clear-film LED taillights, which look decidedly aftermarket and will certainly be a love or hate affair.
Somehow, unlike the Infiniti, the Patrol comes across as less ostentatious, more loveable, like the gentle giant that played prop in your high school rugby team; it’s something that I found quite endearing.
The larger than life theme continues inside, where a slant towards luxury is blended with a typically utilitarian array of off-road buttons and functional switches. Most areas, besides those covered by questionable wood trim and leather, exhibited respectable material quality, despite the fact that the interior design is starting to look dated by modern standards.
Space on the other hand, is not a problem at all, with seating for seven passengers. I’ll be honest though, the third row likely won’t fit adults comfortably, but for children it’s respectable. With all three rows up, there’s still an impressive 550-litres of boot space, making this a truly massive machine.
Occupants also benefit from rear climate control with vents, a Bose sound system, multiple USB ports and screens inserted into the back of each front seats headrest, allowing for media playback via DVD or USB.
Safety and technology
Nissan has included a raft of semi-autonomous driving functions to the Patrol as standard. These include Blind Spot Intervention, adaptive cruise control, Intelligent Distance Control, Intelligent Driver Awareness, emergency braking, Forward Collision Warning, Lane Intervention, Lane Departure Warning, Smart Rear-View Mirror with reverse camera and a 360-degree Around View Monitor that makes use of five cameras. There’s also six airbags, ABS with EBD and BAS and hill start assist for good measure.
The Patrol is a big, lazy off-roader, making it wonderfully soft and comfortable on the road. The powertrain makes for effortless progress, which it should, being a 5.6-litre 298kW/560Nm naturally aspirated V8 mated to a seven-speed automatic gearbox. The engine makes a superb sound and hurls the car towards the horizon in the creamiest fashion imaginable.
But, and this is a big, fuel obliterating but, the car features a 140-litre fuel tank and during our test drive, registered a consumption figure just shy of 17.0-litres/100km, meaning that in terms of running costs, the Patrol will be more expensive than most things this side of a small aircraft.
One area where the big motor comes in handy though is in the off-road and towing realm. With a braked towing capacity of 3.5 tons and a plethora of off-road gadgets, the Patrol can get you can your family to almost any destination. Standard off-road items include a rear diff-lock, a limited slip differential, the All-Mode four-wheel drive system with Auto/4H/4L modes as well as ABLS (Active Brake Limited Slip) and a Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) system.
Then there’s 272mm of ground clearance, an approach angle of 34.3 degrees, a break-over angle of 24.4 degrees and a departure angle of 26.2 degrees, which all came in handy during the launch where the Patrol navigated its way over some tricky obstacles at the De Wildt 4x4 park just north of Pretoria.
The Patrol finds itself in a relatively niche position within our market. It only has one natural rival in the plush, extra-large off-road ready SUV segment in the form of the Toyota Land Cruiser 200 4.5 D-4D VX-R. There will be those who love the Patrol and the Land Cruiser 200 and others who’ll think it’s pointlessly excessive. I’m a massive fan of both of these Japanese monsters.
Service plan and warranty
The Patrol comes with a six-year/150 000km warranty and a three-year/90 000km service plan as standard.
Patrol 5.6 V8 LE Premium AT - R1 299 000