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NEW NISSAN PATROL

Perched at the top of the Nissan food chain, the new Patrol has come to take the fight for off-road supremacy to the wire, as BERNIE HELLBERG explains.

 To lead in the highly-competitive luxury SUV segment today, brands have to consistently be at the top of their game.

At least that seems to be Nissan’s mantra for the new Patrol, a mighty beast of a machine that has come to challenge all in the battle for luxurious off-road supremacy.

And while it has – on paper at least – the power to smite all in its path, several equally mighty warriors stand between the Patrol and ultimate dominance. Not least of which is Mother Africa’s other favourite son, the Toyota Land Cruiser.

 STATELY BLOODLINE

The Nissan Patrol can trace its lineage back to the 4W60, which began production in Japan in 1951. Designed at first to be a military vehicle, the 4W60 was soon replaced by the more civilian-minded second-generation G60 series.

Although never meek, nor mild, the Patrol evolved from functional device to premium leisure vehicle through a series of upgrades over subsequent series.

The fifth-generation Y61 (available here from 1997 to 2004), followed by the sixth-generation Y61 facelift, was sold in South Africa up to the present, although it had been replaced by the Y62 in other countries from 2010.

Despite the late arrival of Y62 to the Motherland, the Patrol remains the Big Man to the entire Nissan 4×4 line-up and should be credited with providing the DNA that spawned the current crop of Nissan off-roaders and crossovers, including the X-Trail, Qashqai, and even the little Juke.

 FIT FOR PURPOSE

For the Y62, Nissan has done away with the previous generation 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel found in the Y61 facelift car. Now bolstered by a massive 5.6-litre naturally aspirated V8 that obliterates any terrain with its 298 kW of power and 560 Nm of raw torque.

But as Nissan’s most luxurious off-roader to date, the patrol brandishes its “big stick” with a delicate diplomacy that underlines its modern era ability to overwhelm the rough with the smooth.

Seven-speed automatic in hand, the Patrol will thunder all the way to a top speed of 210 km/h, all without breaking so much as a sweat. In fact, if required, the burly Nissan can be a nimble sprinter too, racing from standstill to 100 km/h in a mere 6.6 seconds. Although this time is not officially acknowledged, it is worth noting as not many 2.7-tonne behemoths can lay claim to that kind of sprint ability.

Not that sprinting to an imaginary finish line is what the Patrol is renowned for. Instead, it’s ability to flatten almost any surface, while maintaining its charges in princely luxury, is the primary raison d’etre for this noble creature.

To this end, Nissan tasks its Hydraulic Body Motion Control (HBMC) to do the job of maintaining equilibrium regardless of how severe the terrain becomes. A full suite of electronic aids and enhancements make up the Nissan Intelligent Mobility Suite, which brings blind spot- and lane departure warnings with intervention, intelligent cruise control, and Nissan’s revolutionary Intelligent Forward Collision Warning. This senses obstacles on the road ahead and acts either by an audible warning or by actively applying the brakes to avoid them.

 UBER OVERLANDER

As big as it is, the Patrol simply flattens absolutely everything in its path. No wonder it is so prevalent in the Middle East, where the terrain may be vastly different from the dry Bushveld conditions here, but the life a 4×4 is just as tough.

Standing 1.94 metres tall, the Patrol towers above most other pretenders, even the mighty Land Cruiser 200 is 300 mm shorter. Does its size hinder the car somewhat, especially in the unpredictable bush? I would be lying if I denied it. And the 1,995 mm-wide track doesn’t help to get the block of a car through tighter obstacles (or parking spaces) either.

Despite this, however, the Patrol doesn’t feel quite as large as it is. Few two-and-three-quarter-tonne vehicles tread lightly as the Patrol, and with 272 mm of ground clearance, an approach angle of 34.3 degrees, and departure angle of 26.2 degrees, this car will dominate absolutely everything with little more than a flick of the 4×4-mode and diff-lock selectors.

 DRESSED TO IMPRESS

At R1,299,000, the Patrol plays in a market segment where you are spoilt for choice, where the big Germans (and the Japanese, mind you) currently are in charge. But they don’t always have all the luxury mod cons baked in, as is the case with the Patrol.

There are three rows of seats in the Patrol, with an 8” touchscreen up front and two screens in the front headrests, purposed for the middle row occupants.

A Bose sound system, satellite navigation with 3D mapping, and a chilled compartment with a lid that opens both to the front and the back, add gravitas to the notion that the Patrol has, finally, transcended its utilitarian origins.

 LAST WORD

Speaking softly and carrying a big stick may have worked for Roosevelt, but the Nissan Patrol Y62 conquers challenging terrain, insurmountable obstacles, and archaic perceptions with irreverence, sheer power, and a level of luxury that the range has never seen before.

By successfully combining its talents as an inexorable off-roader, and suburban limousine, the Patrol gets our nod to challenge any other for the title of King of Africa.

 

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