Late in 2013 we took some of SA’s most popular SUVs to Botswana for a vehicle safari through the Khwai Conservancy. We’ve posted reviews of all the vehicles that accompanied us over the last few weeks. You can read our travel article about the trip here, and you can find all the other vehicle articles under the “Driving Impressions” category.
There are a few things in life you can bank on. Where there is smoke, there is fire. There will always be corrupt politicians. And a Nissan Patrol will never let you down. And that’s why the Patrol 3.0TD GL that joined us in Botswana, with its solid axles and uncomplicated charm, was really the vehicle for the job
It’s big, very big. And it’s also pretty basic when it comes to amenities, luxuries and modern electronic tricks.
You won’t find traction, stability, crawl or whatever else kind of electronic control in the Nissan Patrol 3.0TD GL’s drivetrain. It’s all very straightforward. But frankly, it’s perfectly suited to cross-country travel, even to the most remote places.
This turbodiesel version is the preferred choice for overland trips. The 4,8-litre straight-six petrol derivative is really awesome. But that big engine! Well, it drinks too much.
The three-litre powerplant produces a modest 110 kW and 371 Nm of torque at 2000r/min – not enough to make you wake up in the middle of the night with sweaty palms, thinking about the exciting drive ahead. But there’s plenty there to lug heavy weights around Africa.
One of the Patrol’s trump cards is its tough drivetrain. The Nissan still rides on old school solid axles, front and back. All the other parts are big, bulky and designed to last hundreds of thousands of kilometres, in the toughest conditions.
The five-speed manual gearbox feels beefy and indestructible, just like the rest of the Patrol.
With a transfer case and a rear differential lock, combined by the excellent wheel articulation afforded by the solid axles, the vehicle’s only limitation on a tight track is its sheer size.
In keeping with the rest of the package, the Patrol 3.0TD GL’s interior is basic, without too many thrills. It’s got air-conditioning, power steering, electric windows and a sound system, and they all work as you’d expect them to.
As one would expect, there is a lot of space in the cabin. The last two seats, which fold up and to the sides, can be removed if you want to transport a baby elephant.
So no, this Patrol is not exactly at the cutting edge of the technological revolution. Rather, it focuses on the basic and highly capable origins of the 4×4. And that, in essence, is exactly what you need in a place like wild Botswana.