With a heritage now spanning five decades, the Nissan Patrol has been a favourite of the off-road scene in demanding climates such as the Middle East and Australia where in 1962, the Nissan Patrol was the first vehicle to successfully cross the grueling Simpson Desert.Promoted under the banner of "The Hero Comes Home", the all-new seventh generation Patrol features a new platform, heavily revised exterior design, a significantly enhanced interior and powerful new V8 engines coupled to a seven-speed automatic transmission and a new 4WD system.
"We paid special attention to the needs of current Patrol owners, and their passengers, and so focused on creating first-class levels of comfort for the whole family. Heightened luxury, a roomier cabin and a quieter ride combine to achieve this goal, while maintaining Patrol's superior off-road heritage," said Hiroyuki Fushiki, project head and Segment Chief Product Specialist.
The new Patrol comes after testing of more than 200 prototypes, each evaluated at Nissan's Motegi, Oppama and Tochigi proving grounds before being shipped to the Middle East where they were exposed a range of challenging real-world environments.
"By the time we came around to adding the new body and interior, we had virtually completed our reliability and durability testing and perfected all of the new technologies," says chief vehicle engineer, Takashi Fukui.
Detailed market research told Nissan that, especially in the Middle East, the Patrol's design would need to include class-leading performance, greater luxury and a "smart mix of new technologies" were it to beat its main competitors.
"Not as edgy and hardcore as its predecessor, the softer new surfaces are beautiful and add a sense of modernity to the design equation, while still maintaining a ruggedness and commanding road presence," said product design director, Taiji Toyota.
According to Mr Toyota, one design element that expresses Patrol more than any other is its grille, which had to be prominent, angular and boast a "strong motif". The grille was meticulously proportioned to deliver a sense of continuity with past models but at the same time deliver a "touch of newness".
Inside, the cabin is roomier, more luxuriously appointed and features polished aluminium or wood grain paneling, depending on model variant. Designers said that give most customers only go off-road 15 per cent of the time, it was important to have the interior offer a higher quality feel that was more suited to family buyers.
Seating dimensions now outclass Patrol's nearest competitor with wider, deeper front pews and over 100mm more leg room for second row passengers. A third row is also offered.
Employing double the lateral rigidity over the outgoing model, the new Patrol sits on a revised platform that now offers a more robust construction with a low vibration body, while under the bonnet an all-new V8 engine leads an array of new powerplants.
Leading the line-up, an engine that makes new Patrol the most powerful vehicle in its class, is Nissan's newly developed 'VK56VD' 5.6-litre direct-injection petrol V8 engine with VVEL (variable valve event and lift). Developing 298kW of power and 550Nm of torque, the new unit if said to offer maximum performance and smooth response. It is mated to a new seven-speed automatic transmission with a wider range of gear ratios than its predecessor, to give the off-roader the ability to deliver power faster.
A comprehensively upgraded 4WD system also features beneath the new Patrol as does Nissan's new Hydraulic Body Motion Control System (HBMC), which keeps the car flatter with less body roll during lane-changing and cornering. The system also helps deliver a more comfortable ride both in city, and off-road driving.
A new suspension system now utilises a four-wheel independent arrangement, a move away from the previous rigid axle setup. This combination of HBMC and the new suspension system, with its longer suspension stroke, delivers significantly improved handling and stability on both on- and off-road terrain.
The new Patrol also employs a newly developed all-mode 4WD that allows the driver to quickly switch between four drive modes: sand, on-road, snow and rock, with the flick of a switch. In addition, the new Patrol also offers a new Hill Start Assist (HSA), Hill Descent Control (HDC) and a completely revised tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS).
A revised, more effective brake system also provides the best braking performance in its class thanks to its new hydraulic brake booster and a four-piston opposed front caliper setup with larger 358mm front discs.
To keep the kids happy, a new, multi-screen DVD system offers twin, rear-facing seven-inch monitors within the front seat headrests. Climate control also makes its way into every model with Nissan's world-first "Curtain Vent" allowing improved air-flow via several small but highly effective vents mounted in the ceiling above each side window to blow a strong current of cool air down forming a curtain of air that acts as a barrier to heat penetrating the cabin.
Yet another impressive Patrol feature is the cool box mounted in the centre console between the front seats. Incorporating a unique double hinge design, the lid of the cool box can be opened easily from either the front or second row of seats to access the six 600ml drink bottles inside.
In terms of safety, top-spec Patrols now come with six-airbags, as well as electronic safety aids that include ABS, EBD, ESC and Traction Control.
It is expected that the all-new Nissan Patrol will be released in Australia late this year as a 2011 model.