Team Y tries out the new stalwart Nissan Patrol that’s still big on substance and unstinting in style.
Sitting in the lineup as an icon of sorts, the Nissan Patrol has paved its way onto the SUV market – especially that in the Sultanate – with gusto. It’s a winner, no doubt as it has always been since its release as a utilitarian vehicle in the 1950s.
There’s no better way to put it: there’s no bad recipe when you’re building a Patrol. Think of it as like preparing a pizza – you really can’t go wrong. And for that very reason, it continues to prowl around the roads of Oman today.
The current generation Patrol – dubbed by its makers as the Y62 – follows in the footsteps of its predecessors too: a large body with off-road credentials that would put… well… the rugged Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to shame, a luxurious interior to rival the best from the west; all wrapped into a brand name that’s synonymous with the GCC.
But dig a bit deeper and you’ll realise that for one very prominent reason the Patrol stands ahead of its rivals: flexibility (figuratively, of course).
That’s right. The SUV can now be tailor-made to suit your tastes as has been dictated by the current dynamics of the GCC market. But set aside the LED daytime running lights, the large chrome-heavy grille, the 20-inch (50cm) machine cut alloys and all other luxury frills; and you’ll realise that Nissan now brings to the table the greatest change of all: a new engine.
Although, it may not seem groundbreaking initially, you’ll be obliging soon after you take control of the wheel. The motor’s a homegrown Nissan unit – a 4.0-litre V6 – that aims not only to sit below the power-packed V8 variant but also to strike a harmony between performance and comfort.
It all falls into place just moments after you take to the streets. While the grunt from the 275 horses and 394Nms of torque isn’t nearly as addictive as that of the V8 variant, it still has enough firepower – and more – to power the gargantuan SUV from zero to 100kph in about 11.5 seconds. In short, the Patrol settles into its speed without much drama, which, according to Nissan, is what the end user desires.
Admirable? Yes! However, where it really hits the chords is on on-road comfort. What you lose in power and torque you gain in refinement on the road – the engine is almost as quiet as a turbocharged low-displacement pot banger from Germany. This translates to noise, vibrations, and harshness (NVH) levels that are best in class.
While of this lays the foundation for a vehicle that solely belongs on the paved road, the Patrol has an arsenal up its sleeve that edges it past its competitors: Nissan’s legendary off-road control system. And, golly, it works wonders.
The Patrol scales rocks and sands like its powerful sibling, breathing out a bootful of torque low down the RPM range. The naturally-aspirated engine only peaks past 2,800rpm but the rev-happy V6 has no shame in hitting the high notes to extract all its power.
That, coupled with the 275/60 Bridgestone tyres and the electronically-locking differential, provides for superior traction while forging fresh paths.
Meanwhile, the traditional seven-speed automatic transmission is a peach – and a welcome brush away from the CVTs that Nissan normally makes use of. The transmission tuning is fit for cruising on the highways, and kick-downs are fairly quick. Of course, should the need arise, you can also slip the tranny into manual mode and make use of additional features such as engine braking.
Speaking of which, the Patrol must have the best set of brakes on a Japanese SUV. The pedal is a tad spongy but there’s a healthy progression to the brakes that swiftly blunts the speeds on the 2.6-tonne vehicle.
Also impressive is the steering rack, which despite its weight at low speeds, tends to provide the driver with adequate feedback and quick responses. Body roll is kept to a minimum even in the models without the fancy hydraulic suspension system (as found in top V8 variant) but it’s always wise to treat vehicles of such size with respect on the road.
The comfort level from the regular suspension system is admirable, and edges out some of its other Asian competitors with similar setups. Call is careful engineering but the Patrol must be the most comfortable full-size SUV to drive on the roads today – even with the V6 moniker. The travel from the suspension is quite high, which makes riding over large rocks and undulating surfaces a walk in the park.
Moreover, you also get about 272mm of ground clearance.
The Nissan Patrol is certainly a car for passionate drivers, as it invokes a strong sense of involvement and excitement when you’re out and about. But that hasn’t left us with a spartan interior.
Everything you see within is swaddled in high-quality leather. Even the armrests and the inserts on the doorsills are finished to the utmost quality. Furthermore, there are perforations on the inserts in the door panels and soft-touch surfaces on the upper panels of the dashboard where you’d normally touch.
The seats are cushy and comfortable although the rear seats lack adequate lumbar support. Nevertheless, the driver and passenger seats offer superior levels of side bolstering to keep you bolted to the seat while taking tight turns.
On the tech front, the Patrol comes packing an 8-inch (20cm) touchscreen with an additional knob to operate functions while driving. It’s an intuitive system with navigation functions as well but it does fall short when compared with the screen found on its sibling, the Maxima. Still, with bold fonts and quick-to-respond menus, it won our hearts.
There’s also a thumping 13-speaker Bose audio system for your music needs, features such as a cool-box in the centre armrest, USB outlets to charge your phones, and wood-grain trim.
A week ago, if you’d come to us singing the praises of a V6-powered Patrol, we’d call you out for blasphemy. But after a comprehensive drive of the vehicle, we’re obliged to say that it’s exactly what the doctor ordered. Call it a sign of the times – but the Patrol V6 has proven far more than it ever needed to. Dare we say, it could even eat into the sales of its competitors who banked on the absence of a frugal rival from Nissan. Checkmate!
• Engine: 4.0-litre ‘naturally-aspirated’ V6
• Transmission: Seven-speed automatic
• Power: 275hp
• Torque: 394Nms
• Electronically-locking differential
• 20-inch alloy wheels
• 8-inch infotainment screen
• 13-speaker Bose audio system
• Multi-screen rear DVD entertainment system
• Leather upholstery
• Traction and stability controls
• Parking sensors
• 360-degree around-view monitor
• Cruise control
• 272mm ground clearance