From the GT-R to the Juke, Nismo has been, er, Nismoing almost everything, but we chuckled at the thought of a sportier Patrol when Nissan’s performance arm turned its attentions to the region’s favourite SUV. Surely it couldn’t be done...
But whaddayaknow — with a set of Bilstein shocks in all four corners and 28 more horses, the mighty Patrol did become more enjoyable to drive. Sportier? That’s debatable. If you consider that it makes 428bhp, which is way more power than most sportscars could ever manage back in the Eighties and Nineties, that’s an impressive feat. It doesn’t quite handle as sharply as them in spite of the improvements made to the chassis, but it does roll a tad less in the corners than the regular model.
But, really, when compared to the Fortuner and the Acadia, the Nissan stood out far more. Standing 1,940mm high and 1,995mm wide — and with the more aggressive styling working in its favour — the Patrol Nismo is hard to miss. It gets a host of exterior tweaks such as a redesigned front bumper with a massive intake, vertical gills and horizontal LED daytime running lights, new side skirts, bigger 22in Rays alloys, a roof spoiler, twin-exhaust tips, a diffuser and “Nismo” badges. And it has a lower and more aggressive stance and to top it all off, Nismo has left its red and white signature all over the hulking body.
The Toyota, built on the Hilux pick-up truck platform, features a part-time four-wheel drive system, is available with a 2.7-litre four-cylinder and a 4.0-litre V6 (the latter makes 265bhp) and it can seat five or optionally seven — but that third row is hard to get into and the plastic-dominated cabin is a letdown. The Acadia is so much better than the outgoing model and it’s 318kg lighter.
It’s good both on and off-road (the All Terrain has a pretty good all-wheel drive system) and the 3.6-litre V6 is good for 310bhp.
But the Patrol leaves them in the dust; the 5.6-litre V8, mated to a slick seven-speed automatic, has been poked and prodded to make more oomph, and with all four wheels digging in for added traction, along with its off-road ability still intact, this is actually three cars rolled into one; it’s still a brilliant family hauler with loads of room for seven adults to sit in total comfort, it’s a superb off-roader with all sorts of driver aids to make mincemeat of difficult terrain and, dare I say, it’s a sporty SUV too — no, not as sporty as a Range Rover SVR or a BMW X6 M, but it doesn’t cost nearly as much. It can do it all and sure is deserving of this accolade. Well done, big guy.