The Nissan Patrol is not some 2.0-litre turbo Sloaney Pony run around, for amateurs. It’s made for power and adventuring, torque is what you need when playing off road. Look at Dubai, every family owns a Patrol. Why? It’s tougher than anything else on the market, it’s the biggest 7-seater for family getaways and you can take it anywhere, which is a factor in sandstorm season. Also, fuel’s cheap there.
But how does it fare in South Africa? Well, the fuel price is an influencing decision on car purchases and with a 140-litre fuel tank we’re guessing it might be an intimidating factor for those who want one. That aside it’s perfectly suited to the African countryside. From kerbside warrior to river-wader, very little can get in the way of this giant.
It’s big. Very big. The shortest member on our team is 6-foot and needed to use the grab-handle to climb up inside. Once behind the wheel it doesn’t feel any larger than a KIA Sedona, the tyres are just a tad larger in size than the average people carrier. The steering communicates that this is no feather-weight dancer on the road, though carries enough weight that you don’t get ahead of yourself and attempt to throw it around. And if you throw it around, there’s plenty body roll. That’s of your own doing though, it’s not the Patrol’s fault. At 3 500 kgs you have to consider the way you drive it, respect the Patrol without overloading it in corners and give it space to unwind out of them and the smoothest drive experience will be enjoyed by all. Chuck it around and clean up is on the driver.
Powered by a 5.6-litre petrol V8 the Patrol treads where most people dare to fly. Peak torque of 560 Nm kicks in at 4 000 rpm with peak power at 5 800 rpm, all 298 kW of it, perfect for the open road or a sand dune or two. A 7-speed automatic transmission has Adaptive Shift Control and Downshift Rev Matching, this supposedly helps fuel efficiency through a use of wider gear ratios. The gearbox appears sluggish on downshift, though once its behaviour is learnt (an extra second given for it to put on its running shoes) the torque surges through and momentum turns in the drivers’ favour, its 3.5 tons are good to go.
On test, the 7-speed automatic didn’t work quite as simply as, well, an automatic. The transmission happily shifts up to 6th and appears to need extraordinary circumstances to move onto 7th. Not even highway cruising speeds for an hour or two prompted a shift to 7th. Once a cruising speed is reached a manual nudge on the gearbox brought 7th out of hiding. Instantly the engine note drops a bar or two to a less energised hum, 50-odd kilometres later the fuel consumption becomes less thirsty.
So, you want the Patrol but you’re less Tarzan and more George of the urban jungle. That’s ok. As an urban warrior the Patrol is more than able to deal with parking lots. Equipped with Around View Monitor the Patrol has 5 cameras providing a 360-degree external view, the Intelligent Smart Rear-View Mirror displays to an LCD screen up front, this rear-facing camera helps avoid the pitfalls of parking lots… mainly those low parking beacons the enemy of SUVs everywhere. Looks can be deceiving, it’s only 1 995 mm wide, meaning it fits in standard parking bays and can squeeze down narrow streets. On the aesthetic side, it may have an exterior that suggests more brawn than brain, but looks can be deceiving. The interior is packed to the brim with technology, there are charging points for everyone, different connector cable options, LCD screens on the back of headrests, infotainment for the masses and comfort. Sheer comfort, comfort like your livingroom comfort.
So, you’ve bought the Patrol and your friends are all going away for the weekend, there might be some light 4x4ing and you’re worried that it’s all pretty and no ability. What was that about the Patrol treading where most dare to fly? Not an understatement. Yes, the Patrol in this Premium guise offered in South Africa is all about creature comforts and the finer things, that however does not impact its ability to bundu-bash. Don’t judge this 4×4 by its entertainment screens.The All-Mode 4-wheel drive system has the standard AUTO option for daily running around favouring 2-wheel drive however, it will transfer up to 50-percent of the torque to the front wheels if need be. 4H for when the road gets a bit loose under tread and 4LO for the tougher stuff. Ground clearance is 272 mm with no load, so curbs and dongas shouldn’t be a worry.
In South Africa the new Nissan Patrol has been rarity on the road in the past, it seems only hardcore 4x4ers or relocated GCC nationals truly understand them, which is a real pity. The asking price is not off the charts when considering how many bog-standard SUVs with ‘AWD’ (advertised like it’s going to tackle Kilimanjaro on one wheel autonomously) fly on either side of the million rand marque. It’s a shame, because the Nissan Patrol is very good at what it does.
The Nissan Patrol in a nutshell
Highs: There’s nothing it can’t do, except maybe fall into the shadows
Lows: Not the Patrol’s fault that our fuel price has breached R16/l. Refuelling a 140-litre tank hurts
Engine: 5 552 cc, V8
Power: 298kW @ 5 800 rpm , 560 Nm @ 4 000 rpm
Performance: Top speed 210 km/h
Economy: 14.4 l/100 km
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic
CO2 emissions: 334g/km
Price: starts from R1 353 500
Maintenance: The Patrol is backed up by Nissan Assured and has a class-leading 6-year/150,000km warranty, and a comprehensive 3-year/90,000km service plan.