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It's a name that dates back over 50 years, and while it may not be as iconic as 'Land Rover' or 'Land Cruiser', 'Nissan Patrol' is synonymous with that go-anywhere adventure spirit that has made Australia just that little bit smaller.
The 2016 Nissan Patrol Ti seeks to embody that spirit for a more modern generation of drivers. Bigger, more comfortable, and more powerful than any Patrol before it, does the V8-powered Y62 have the skills where it counts to live up to its name?
The story is one that has been repeated many times: a military-inspired vehicle with rugged underpinnings marketed to a hungry civilian audience whose requirements cover the gamut of the work-and-play spectrum.
The first Patrols landed here in 1960 but it really became a permanent part of the Australian landscape when the third-generation MQ Patrol arrived in the 1980s. The big Nissan saw success build upon success through subsequent GQ and GU generations.
Competitors delved into more and more luxurious models but the Patrol continued its high-country capability over high-street credibility positioning, winning plenty of fans in the process.
The GU (Y61) in particular, which launched locally in 1997, has generations of families knowing it as the most Patrol of Patrols, but sadly that time is coming to an end.
The venerable 4x4 will be retired from sale as soon as stocks are depleted as the sole powerplant, a 118kW/380Nm 3.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel (ZD30D), no longer meets our new EURO5 emission requirements.
That leaves the responsibility of the Patrol name squarely on the shoulders of the Y62 V8. Yep, for the first time since the MQ Patrol was launched in 1980, the Patrol is only available with a petrol engine. But what an engine it is.
The Y62 Patrol is powered by a whopping 5.6-litre, 32-valve, 90-degree V8, offering 298kW of power at 5800rpm and 560Nm of torque at 4000rpm. Some rough maths has that at 50 per cent more torque and 150 per cent more power than the GU’s diesel.
Even the Y62’s 2800kg bulk doesn’t hinder a power-to-weight ratio double that of the older model (110W/kg to 48W/kg).
All that motive power comes at a cost though. The claimed fuel consumption figures are over 14 litres per 100km for a combined cycle and 20.6L/100km for urban only use. That said, we ran the big lug on solely urban duties for about a week and saw 19.6L/100km consumption. You’re welcome Greenpeace.
Bottom line, the Patrol is thirsty. Even with a giant 140-litre tank, the 5.1-metre-long Nissan will see somewhere around a 700km range for urban-only use – not to mention the $150-odd hit each time you visit the bowser. Just close your eyes and think of the Frequent Flyer points...
But here’s the fun bit. When the Y62 originally landed back in 2013, the Ti model cost $92,850 (before options and on-road costs). Don’t choke on your Vegemite toast just yet, the top-spec Ti-L was an eye-watering $113,900. To make things even harder to swallow, within six months, both models had increased a further $500 or so – and there they sat, a pair of six-figure offerings, on the lot alongside the Y61, and not selling particularly well.
This year though, Nissan has slashed prices by over 30 per cent, making the Ti model tested here $69,990 (before options and on-road costs). That’s a $23,000 saving that, all of a sudden, makes the Y62 seem like remarkably good value (regardless of fuel consumption).
For context, a similarly specified Toyota Landcruiser GXL turbo diesel is $87,000 (before options and on-road costs). Assuming both cars annually cover 20,000km of mixed-cycle driving, the Nissan will use roughly 1000 litres more fuel each year.
Take the $17,100 price gap into account though, and you could have about 17 years worth of fuel, or some 335,000km of burbling V8 driving, in the Patrol to even things out.
It doesn’t hurt that the V8 in the Patrol is deliciously smooth either. It’s an effortless engine both around town and when cruising, and can even hustle the big guy to 100km/h in under seven seconds. Plus it sounds pretty good...
Power aside, the Y62 Patrol is no base-trim Dubai taxi. Even in entry-level Ti trim, there’s plenty of kit on board.
Leather-accented seats, surround-view parking camera, tri-zone climate control, keyless entry, satellite navigation, a host of off-road tools and gadgets (compass, tyre pressure monitor and wheel angle display) and space. Acres and acres of space.
In the boot, with all rows up, you have a 550-litre cargo capacity. Fold the 60:40 split-fold third-row down to get 1500 litres behind the middle row, or do the same with the identically-split second row for a total of 3000 litres. The tailgate isn’t powered though, and can be a bit heavy, not to mention high up to reach for some owners.
With curtain airbags covering all three rows, the Patrol is officially an eight-seater, offering three-across in the back-back row. And for short trips, room back there is fine for pre-teens and smaller adults.
In the middle, the gap behind the front seats can simply be referred to as an aisle, such is its size. Three adults across here is no problem, and apart from roof-mounted air vents making the journey more comfortable, there are cup holders and specific access to the central storage cubby. Up front too, there is a huge amount of room which is made even more noticeable by the width of that central cubby.
While all the mod-cons are present, the Nissan switchgear is beginning to date and can look low-rent compared with some of the more modern offerings from the likes of Kia and Hyundai. Specifically, the menu buttons on top of the instrument binnacle that control the monochrome display between the dials aren’t a highlight of modern ergonomics.
The same can be said for the 8-inch media interface. The chunky embossed buttons looking more like a mid-90’s university C++ project than a modern infotainment system - a reminder that although we first saw the Y62 in 2013, it was launched to other markets back in 2010, so is approaching its seventh birthday. Given that was the first year of the iPad, I think six years is enough time for Nissan to get around to hiring a user-experience designer or two.
On the road, once you get over the sheer enormity of the Patrol (5140mm long, 1995mm wide, 1940mm high), it’s a very quiet and comfortable experience.
As noted earlier, the big V8 is anything but strained. It lazily pulls the Nissan around town without a hint of hesitation. Things make even more sense out on the open road as the Patrol relaxes into a truly effortless cruiser.
The seven-speed automatic is well matched to the powerplant and we found regular changes smooth and suited to the given driving style. Kick-down for overtaking can take a few moments before the Patrol adjusts from a lope to a sprint, but that’s not unexpected in a car of this size.
Ride quality is largely positive, but you can feel the rear suspension skip and jitter a bit over corrugations and rougher road patches. It’s more a symptom of the car’s off-road setup than an outright flaw though.
The Patrol features a trick hydraulic system (HBMC – Hydraulic Body Motion Control) that moves fluid from left to right shock absorbers to help mitigate body roll through cornering. It also allows the shocks to exhibit independent bound and rebound characteristics, which helps keep all feet on the ground when off road, but can also change the way the car ‘feels’ the bumps on rougher patches of tarmac. Even a slight differentiation from front to rear or left to right can feel a bit unnatural for the driver.
To deserve the Patrol badge though, the giant ‘ship of the desert’ needs to hold its own off road. And while it may have proven itself in the sand-dunes of the Middle East (where you can even get a Nismo version...), how does it deal with some back-woods forest trails just outside Melbourne?
Put simply, its eats them for breakfast. We put the Nissan through a rocky climb, a mud bog and articulation-heavy descents and it barely broke a sweat.
The in-cabin controls for the standard locking differential, low-range gearing, and terrain response system are easy to use – albeit a bit slow to engage some times. The car’s softer exterior hiding a very confident family off-roader underneath.
Even with our standard-fit road-biased tyres, the Patrol didn’t show any signs of getting stuck through any of the terrain we threw at it. Granted, this was not off-road competition territory, and we were still making sure that the Patrol would make it home dirty but largely unscathed from its forest expedition - much the same as most owners would.
We did find it ‘big’ through some parts and the side steps suffered some paint scratches from some of the tighter, rockier sections, but without question, the car had more skill than we did, and at no time felt out of its depth.
Adventure done, the dirty Nissan cruised back to town as effortless as ever and even managed a last-minute after-school pickup of daughter and dog on the way home.
The 2016 Nissan Patrol Ti may not be everyone’s cup of tea. It’s not particularly handsome (we recommend ‘not white’ as a colour – it looks much better in one of the three ‘earth tones’ as part of the seven-colour palette, which attract a $495 metallic premium), but nor is it specifically ugly.
Whichever way you cut it, there is a lot of car there and for the new sub-$70k price tag, not much can touch it for value. It is starting to date in some areas and if it is planned to continue for even half as long as the Y61 did, we’d love to see some modernisation touches to bring it up to 2016 speed. For a car that spent the last three years being all-but invisible to many buyers, Nissan say demand is now outstripping supply.
The Patrol isn’t perfect, but it is big, comfy and capable. And while it may not fly the turbo-diesel flag of old, the V8 Y62 does everything it needs to do to keep the Patrol name adventuring for the next generation.