Updated Nissan Patrol crosses continents in better comfort
Tech tweaks and improved refinement make this all-terrain giant a top choice for expeditions
One of my favourite off-road adventures was driving across the Egyptian Sahara, overnighting in tented Bedouin camps, and ending the journey in the spectacular setting of the Giza Pyramids.
The steed for this desert sojourn was the Nissan Patrol, a 4x4 steeped in heritage. The big SUV danced through dunes with an easygoing flair and cruised over cratered ground in smooth-riding comfort.
It was a first-hand experience of why the Patrol’s famed for its all-terrain mastery, and it’s never wavered from that brief even as it’s become more luxurious over successive generations since 1951. Where many modern SUVs have sacrificed off-road skills for slicker road handling, the Patrol is still designed to take on the roughest trails.
Independent front and rear suspension combines with a rugged ladder-frame chassis, and the big vehicle straddles the ground with a towering 272mm clearance.
The current sixth-generation Patrol was globally launched back in 2010 although it only reached SA in 2017, and for its 10-year anniversary the SUV’s been updated with a facelift and some technology tweaks.
The restyled nose wears a new “V-motion” grille with plenty of chrome and distinctive boomerang-shaped LED headlights, and the 18-inch alloy wheels adopt a machine-cut design.
It is an imposingly large vehicle, and looks like the SUV that will steal other SUVs’ school lunches. At 5,165mm in length and 1,995mm in width (excluding side mirrors) it barely squeezes into regular-sized parking bays, and the fitted parking camera comes in very handy.
It’s so high you have to step up into the cabin like a bus, and once seated you get a commanding view of the road at the helm of this big road ship.
The seven-seat cabin is cavernous and the first two rows offer plenty of stretch-out room, while the back row will take a pair of adults at more of a squeeze. The second and third rows flip down to expand the boot to panel van-sized proportions.
The cabin looks quite dated in this age of digitally-infused interiors, but the Patrol’s 2020 update includes upgraded climate control that cools the large cabin better, and occupants are well pampered with luxuries including a 13-speaker Bose premium sound system and a rear DVD system with Bluetooth headphones.
A cooled storage box between the front seats provides chilled beverages for hot desert trips, and the cleverly designed lid is double-hinged to give both front and middle-row passengers access to the fridge.
New diamond-stitch quilted leather seats with added padding provide a more luxurious interior feel, as does a new hand-stitched steering wheel. In addition, climate control and powered lumbar support are available for the front seats.
Significantly reduced noise and vibration has resulted in a quieter driving experience for this brawny SUV.
Driver assistance tech includes Intelligent Emergency Braking with pedestrian detection and an Intelligent Forward Collision Warning system that warns the driver of risks that lie beyond the driver's forward field of vision. Active cruise control and lane-departure warnings are also part of the standard package.
At 2.7 tons the Patrol’s a heavy beast but it has the necessary punch with a 5.6l V8 normally-aspirated petrol engine. The 298kW and 560Nm outputs give this behemoth some lusty spring in its step, but thrusting the throttle too often guzzles fuel. At the rate of about 16l per 100km it has a decent range with its giant 140l fuel tank but you’ll pay an eye-watering R2,080 to fill it!
We took the Patrol for an off-road test at Gerotek and it breezed through the course. We tried challenging it with deeper holes and more slippery turf but the big Nissan made everything look easy. It’s truly a master of rough terrains.
A full gamut of systems help its wide tyres find traction including four-wheel drive with high and low range, a rear differential lock, hill-descent control and hill-start assist. It also has modes for sand, rocks and snow.
Using a front-mounted camera, the view blocked by the bonnet is shown on the entertainment screen — an especially useful driver aid that shows the forward view when cresting steep hills.
The Patrol also has one of the most comfortable rides we’ve experienced. It floats over rough roads with smooth finesse, and with its sensibly high-profile tyres you don’t have to worry about zigzagging about most potholes; you just drive over them.
The updated Nissan Patrol is available in a single model priced at R1,515,700 and it’s a formidable adventure vehicle; a luxury barge that’s made to cross continents in comfort over all kinds of terrain.
Type: V8 petrol
Type: Seven-speed auto with low range transfer case
Type: All-wheel drive
Top speed: 210km/h
Fuel Consumption: 14.4l / 100km (claimed); 16l /100km (as tested)
Bose premium audio system with rear DVD players, cooled storage box, leather seats, heated front seats, six airbags, ABS brakes, rain-sensing wipers, parking camera, navigation, adaptive cruise control, Intelligent Emergency Braking with pedestrian detection, Intelligent Forward Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning
Warranty: Six years/150,000km
Service plan: Three years/100,000km
* at 10% interest over 60 months no deposit
Lexus LX 570, 270kW/530Nm — R1,890,200
Toyota Land Cruiser 200 4.5D-4D V8 VX-R, 195kW/650Nm — R1,540,300
Land Rover Discovery HSE Si6, 250kW/450Nm — R1,569,484
Nissan Patrol 5.8 V8 LE 4WD
Off-road ability, space, ride comfort
An all-terrain legend
****Value For Money
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