The latest Nissan Patrol Y62, powered by a 5.6-litre V8 petrol with some racing DNA, has finally made it to the South African market. Shortly before it landed here though, we travelled Down Under and took the 298kW Patrol on a road trip on the Great Ocean Road through the Great Otway National Park in the state of Victoria. It turned out great, mate.
It’s been 20 years.
That’s how long the legendary Nissan Patrol Y61 has been around. It made its international debut in 1997 and, despite a major facelift (in 2005), some different engine offerings and trim updates, it has remained, under the skin, very much a Y61 for the past two decades.
Which is a sad state of affairs. The Nissan Patrol Y62 was launched internationally in 2010 and, some years ago, we asked Nissan South Africa why local customers can only have the older generation Y61, and not the latest Patrol.
At the time, the company cited customer preference as the main motivating factor. The new Patrol Y62 would sell at a premium, and according to their research, typical Patrol customers would not be prepared to pay a premium price for the new vehicle. So the older Y61 was imported and sold in limited numbers.
In 2017, the stars all seemed to align at the Nissan South Africa headquarters, and now the latest Patrol has just been introduced in SA.
It arrives at a rather opportune time, too. In 2016, Toyota discontinued the V8 petrol derivative in its popular Cruiser 200 range while high-end SUVs such as the Range Rover Sport and new Velar are seemingly very much in vogue among more affluent clientele.
The new Patrol lands here with just one engine option: the V8 petrol. What a motor it is. The 32-valve 5.6-litre V8 features direct injection and Nissan’s variable valve event and lift system (VVEL). It produces 298kW of power and 560Nm of torque, peaking at 4 000r/min.
The same engine is used in the Aussie V8 Supercar series, and it is tuned to deliver just under 500kW. In the age of turbochargers and hybrids, a naturally aspirated V8 with good old grunt is quite refreshing. Thanks to the fancy VVEL system, average fuel consumption is said to be quite reasonable, too.
But enough of the chit-chat.
Time to hit the road Down Under.
Melbourne has been named the most liveable city in the world for seven consecutive years in a survey conducted by The Economist Intelligence Unit. Every day thousands of immigrants stream into the city. It’s a beautiful, organised city that runs like a well-oiled machine.
You can have breakfast at a cool and hip Aussie restaurant, lunch at a Vietnamese establishment and dinner at a Lebanese diner.
Yet, the city centre itself is not necessarily the kind of place you’d want to drive a Nissan Patrol. The Nissan is huge. As reference, it is longer, wider and taller than the comparable Toyota Land Cruiser 200.
We’re threading our way through the traffic. There are trams, pedestrians, taxis, cars and utes (as the Aussies erringly call their bakkies). Unlike in South Africa, everything happens in an extraordinarily orderly fashion. Everyone sticks to the speed limit, everyone gives each other gaps, everyone stops when the traffic light turns red.
Turns out that the big Nissan is quite a treat in traffic. The seven-seat cabin is vast, and super comfortable. There’s so much legroom behind the front seat that this could easily classify as a limousine. Then there’s still a third row of seats, as well as a 530-litre luggage area and that’s with the last row of seats in place. If you fold all the rear seats flat, there’s a massive 3 000 litres of space to be had.
The drivetrain is impressive in the city, too. The V8 engine transfers its bucket loads of torque and power permanently to the four wheels via a seven-speed automatic gearbox. At first, getting the big 4×4 smoothly off the line in orderly Australian fashion requires a bit of adjustment: give that accelerator pedal an insensitive boot and this Nissan blasts off the line in a dramatic instant.
Yep, there’s just no replace-ment for cubic capacity, and this Patrol has all of 5 552ccs of the good stuff.
Road racing is not to be recommended in Oz though: that will quickly attract a fine of around R4 000. So we behave like perfect conformists in this land of the conforming, and of law and order.
We soon leave the city behind us, and head out on the highway. Here the speed limit is 100km/h and everyone drives at 100km/h. No faster, no slower. It’s quite unnerving if you’re used to the ‘each to their own’ madness on Gauteng’s highways. At this speed, the Patrol’s cabin is whisper quiet. So quiet, you can hardly believe there’s an internal combustion engine powering this behemoth.
We leave the highway after passing the town of Geelong, sticking to the Great Ocean Road, running next to the Bass Strait, which separates mainland Australia from the island of Tasmania.
Hugging the beautiful coastline, the Great Ocean Road is quite busy: it’s a long weekend and we share the road with classic cars, performance cars, motorcycles, camper vans, utes and plenty of other cars. And police cars. So no testing the Patrol’s lah-di-dah BP51 suspension or stretching the V8’s legs here.
The model we’re driving is the entry-level one in the Aussie market, called the Ti. The Ti-L, and the model we’re getting in South Africa, is fitted with a state-of-the-art hydraulic suspension set-up, called hydraulic body motion control (HBMC).
It works in conjunction with the Patrol’s fully independent, double wishbone coil sprung suspension. Essentially, the system uses hydraulics to regulate the suspension’s roll stiffness, limiting body roll. In off-road situations, each wheel independently rises or drops to maintain maximum contact with terra firma, thereby enhancing grip and off-road ability.
Our Patrol’s BP-51 race-ready set-up floats like a butterfly on tar, but handles like a racing car in the corners (er, as we would later find out, off the beaten track, of course).
Near Apollo Bay we leave the tar, and swap it for some dirt tracks snaking their way through the Great Otway National Park. With its rugged coastlines, sandy beaches and rock platforms, the tracks play host to off-road motorcycle enthusiasts, mountain bikers, joggers and private vehicles.
The main tracks are mostly in okay shape, but there are a lot of smaller trails heading off into the bush that are certainly not suited for a normal sedan. These are the trails we aim for in the Patrol. But we hardly find any 4×4 challenge that requires the transfer case to be called into action. Even some deep ruts are easily dispatched in the Nissan. It’s like taking a Barrett M82 .50 calibre rifle to a knife fight.
You’d need at least a grade four obstacle course (albeit one with plenty of space) to begin to explore this Patrol’s 4×4 abilities.
It is fitted with Nissan’s All Mode 4×4 system with electronic 4WD selection. In its default ‘Auto’, power is sent to the rear wheels only, but when wheel slip is detected the on-demand system will send power to the front wheels as required to maintain grip.
For more demanding off-road driving situations you can select 4H via the twist dial in the centre console. This ensures a 50/50 power distribution between the front and rear axles. And, if things get really interesting, you can always select 4Low. There’s also a rear differential lock on the reserve bench.
The Patrol has a fashionable electronic multi-terrain system. The driver can select between the following settings: On-road, Sand, Snow and Rock. The system ostensibly adapts the vehicle’s dynamics and engine settings to suit the selected situation. We didn’t get to test it out in the national park, but in other high-end 4×4s with similar systems, we’ve found this electronic aid superfluous.
What is certainly not superfluous is the Patrol’s ground clearance: it has a claimed 287mm.
While we’re talking numbers, here’s a few more: 2 746kg. That’s how much the Patrol weighs. 3 500kg. That’s the gross vehicle weight of the Patrol. And 3 500kg. That’s how much the Patrol V8 is rated to tow (trailer with brakes).
But back to the Great Otway tracks. A clear track ahead, void of traffic, provides a chance to shift the seven-speed auto gearbox into ‘manual’ mode, and to finally let the 298kW engine clear its throat.
Australia’s favourite crocodile hunter, the late Steve Irwin, would have probably summed the resulting blast up as such: “Crikey, mate! This thing is a monster!”
It is a monster indeed. As the needle sprints around the rev counter, the engine’s subdued hum turns into a beautiful crescendo of eight cylinders beating their way past 6 000r/min. Hook the next gear. More shove in the back, more beautiful V8.
Crikey! This Patrol is fast!
A corner looms. There are no cars from the front. Briefly stomp on the brakes. Gear down. Turn. And the Patrol turns, tracking through the corner like… well, like a 1.5-ton performance SUV would. Frankly, a massive 4×4 weighing nearly three tons isn’t supposed to be able to do this.
Not wanting to tempt fate and run over a koala bear or a mountain biker, this is the extent of our higher speed cornering experiments. Also impressive is the way the big Nissan handles corrugations and ruts at higher speeds. The OME BP-51 set-up works really well.
We land up back on the Great Ocean Road. And end up between the camper vans and holiday traffic. One thing is for sure: at 80–100km/h on a smooth tar road there are few SUVs as comfortable and refined as this. We reach the famous 12 Apostles: an impressive collection of limestone stacks off the shore, a while later.
It’s obviously a bit of a tourist trap, and it’s busy. We have a look around and ooh and aah along with the many other tourists, and take some snaps.
Time then to head back to Melbourne. From the 12 Apostles there’s a faster in-land route back to the city. Back on the B-roads, winding through beautiful farmland, the Patrol’s cabin is again supremely comfortable.
It also allows some time to press some buttons and explore the cabin more. The Patrol is more than two metres wide, and in the front seats that girth is obvious. The centre console between the seats is just about as wide as the driver’s seat of some small hatches. Leather and fake wood veneer abound.
As you’d expect, climate control and electric everything are standard. As is an infotainment system with satellite navigation. And maybe this system is the only slight chink in the Patrol’s armour… compared to some of the new touchscreen systems in other SUVs retailing for more than R1 million, the Patrol’s older-generation system seems a tad out of place.
We reach Melbourne, and finally, the ARB headquarters in Kilsyth. Although we never had the opportunity to fill and refuel the 140-litre fuel tank to check actual consumption, Nissan says you can expect an average of around 15 litres/100km, which is not amazing, but also not too shabby considering the performance potential, weight and luxury of this Patrol.
In Australia, the Nissan Patrol V8 costs about R60 000 less than the Toyota Land Cruiser 200 V8 petrol. As mentioned before, here in South Africa the V8 petrol 200 is no longer for sale.
The flagship in the local Cruiser 200 range is the 4.5D-4D VX-R. The 4.5-litre turbodiesel engine has been uprated to deliver 195kW and 650Nm, it gets all the bells and whistles, and it sells for R1 345 000.
The new Nissan Patrol retails for R1.3 million. For that money you get more space than the Cruiser 200, more horses from its meaty V8 petrol engine, serious off-road credentials and bags of standard kit and tech.
This includes features such as the Intelligent range of blind spot intervention, cruise control, distance control, driver awareness, emergency brake, forward collision warning, lane intervention, ride control and trace control.
So, the R1.3 million question is: has the Patrol Y62 been worth the wait? Surely it’s a liability if there is no diesel offering?
Let’s settle the first question: Yes, we reckon it’s good enough to take the Cruiser 200 VX-R on, and beat it in a straight fight. That said, let’s not forget the ‘entry-level’ Cruiser 200 GX, which has the same drivetrain as the VX-R but less standard kit, and sells for R300 000 less. And R300 000 is quite a bit of money.
On the second point… the Nissan’s 298kW V8 engine drinks virtually the same amount of fuel as the Cruiser 200’s diesel V8. If there is high-octane fuel coursing through your veins, there’s really no contest: the Nissan’s smooth, powerful V8 with its bags of torque at low revs is the clear winner.
It’s been a long-time coming, but the Nissan Patrol Y62 has the firepower to really take on the competition.
And beat it.
ARB – a complete solution
In the land of Oz, the Nissan Patrol is cheaper than the Toyota Land Cruiser 200 V8 – its most direct rival.
Make no mistake: the Cruiser is as popular in Oz as Melbourne’s main beach when the temperature reaches more than 400Celsius. Yet the more affordable Patrol offers a heck of a lot of overland 4×4 for the money. So leading Australian 4×4 accessory company ARB offers a comprehensive range of accessories for the Nissan.
It was the first 4×4 with coil spring rear suspension to get the ready-to-race Old Man Emu BP-51 suspension upgrade. The fully adjustable shock absorbers offer excellent high-speed handling on any surface, and add around 50mm of ground clearance.
Our test unit was fitted with an ARB Deluxe bull bar, an ARB Intensity LED light bar and ARB Intensity LED driving lights. Also available for the Patrol are ARB’s Sahara bar, roof racks and air differential lockers for hardcore 4×4 enthusiasts.
More information: 4×4megaworld.co.za
In 1951, the first Patrol was produced in Japan. Modelled very much around the Willys Jeep, the 4W60 was powered by a straight-six bus engine and proved indestructible.
The ‘60’ was produced between 1959 and 1980. This Patrol was still very much based on a military platform. The 60 served in the Indian army from the 1960s until the late 1980s.
The third generation was called the 160, and it was the first model that officially made it to South Africa. Legendary racing driver Hannes Grobler used the Safari bakkie to dominate the local off-road racing championship.
By 1988, the Y60 was launched. It was the first coil-sprung Patrol and it increased comfort levels for its occupants 10-fold. Interestingly, it was badged a Nissan Patrol, a Nissan Safari and a Ford Maverick (the latter in the Aussie market).
The Y61 was introduced locally in 1998, and basically the same version – bar a few cosmetic, mechanical and trim updates – has been on sale here ever since.
Now it’s finally Y62 time. All 298kW of it.
Engine V8 petrol, direct injection, VVEL
Displacement 5 552cc
Power 298kW @ 5 800r/min
Torque 560Nm @ 4 000r/min
Transmission Seven-speed automatic
Fuel tank 140 litres
Suspension Independent, double wishbone coil sprung (front & back)
Brakes Ventilated discs (front & back)
Ground clearance 287mm
4WD system All Mode 4×4 with electronic selection between ‘Auto’, 4H & 4LOW
Traction aids Traction and stability control, rear differential lock, rear helical limited slip differential (LSD), electronic off-road driving ‘modes’
Weight (standard) 2 715kg
Towing capacity (braked trailer) 3 500kg
Text and images: Danie Botha