Usually, you’d never find the word ‘fast’ and Patrol in the same sentence. However, I was recently going pretty darn quick in the big, burly SUV — because it had been fettled by Nismo. Nissan’s performance arm wasn’t content with just tweaking the GT-R, 370Z, Juke, Note and Pulsar (we only get the first two here), and decided to put its red and white signature on the 5.6-litre V8 Patrol. Now, über-fast family haulers are nothing new — there’s the Range Rover Sport SVR, BMW X6 M and Porsche Cayenne Turbo S to name a few, and Nissan felt it needed to join the party.
So, it did, and that took care of the top end of the spectrum. Now, it has its sensible hat back on and has given us a Patrol with a V6. Was that too sensible? It’s a question that is on everyone’s lips, but having belted the newbie around all week, I was soon licking mine.
You may have thought Nissan’s body-on-frame behemoth needed at the very least an eight-cylinder motor to hurl it around. Indeed, the Patrol V8 can tame the roughest of terrain, but what about this sixer, which makes 275 horses? It proves ample, as the photos on these pages will testify. The UAE’s favourite is still a powerhouse and sure doesn’t perform as if it is 42 horses shy compared to the now discontinued base V8.
It isn’t nearly as aggressively styled as the aforementioned Nismo, but our Platinum tester still looks good with those massive 20in machined alloy wheels, chromed side-view mirror casings, a huge grille that dominates the front end, city style bumpers and roof rails. Unsurprisingly, it isn’t as quick as the sportier model; the Nismo edition can reach 100kph from rest in a very impressive 7.3 seconds whereas the V6 does the ton in 11.5 seconds. Although it is over 4.0 seconds slower and doesn’t have quite the same vociferous soundtrack, you can take it out in the middle of nowhere and beat it to within an inch of its life. You’d think twice about doing that in the speedier model because it’s been tailored more for the road.
You may have thought Nissan’s body-on-frame behemoth needed at the very least an eight-cylinder motor to hurl it around.
This V6 can be driven with your teeth clenched and it builds on a heritage that stems back to 1951 when the first 60-series Patrol rolled off the production line and was deemed tough enough for military use. Sixty-five years have passed since its debut, and the model has evolved into one of the most iconic on and off-road vehicles. Nissan believes the addition of the smaller engine (which by the way isn’t new — it’s been adapted from the smaller Xterra and Pathfinder Classic models...) could see sales rise by 20 per cent. Having thrashed it on a variety of testing surfaces and coming away suitably impressed, they won’t fall, that’s for sure. A V6 Land Cruiser didn’t hurt Toyota and the same will apply for Nissan as this Patrol is properly good both on the road and off it. Incidentally, it sips 11.8 litres per 100km making it 13 per cent more fuel efficient than the V8 (it weighs 90kg less, too), which is good news during these hard times, and it retains that supple ride along with a refined cabin. What’s not to like, barring a slightly muffled exhaust note?
The leather seats are ever-so comfortable and the wood inserts on the dashboard, door panels, and centre console give it a touch of class. It packs a host of kit from an 8.0in LCD screen with navigation, rear TV screens, parking sensors, reversing cameras,
a Bose Audio with 13 speakers, around-view monitor and blind-spot detection mirrors, along with safety features such as airbags that’d spring out seemingly from every conceivable orifice, plus an anti-theft device, ABS and EBD, hill-start assist and even a crash-sensitive door unlock function. It sure isn’t lacking on the tech front but more pertinently, it isn’t lacking on the move — even in the dirt — either.
It really comes into its own when you take it to its natural habitat and an afternoon of dune bashing doesn’t get much better...
Granted, it isn’t as snappy as the V8 but Nissan says most of the torque is available at lower rpm. This means you don’t have to work the V6 too hard to get the Patrol going and that sure is the case on the blacktop where the motor is barely fussed and hardly audible. The seven-speed automatic that it’s mated to swaps the cogs effortlessly and overall, this is a smooth gearbox. But bury your foot into the lush carpet, and the V6 emits a rather raspy roar, which doesn’t quite suit the nature of the model. This is easily rectified by cranking the volume on the banging Bose sound system, which serves as your personal concert hall.
It really comes into its own when you take it to its natural habitat and an afternoon of dune bashing doesn’t get much better — even if two cylinders have been lopped off. The motor is gutsy and it is ably backed by a terrain-select system, rear differential lock and good ground clearance to ensure playtime is more than satisfactory. You don’t even need the gizmos; a heavy right peg will do the trick most of the time.
Some feel offering a V6 for this Middle Eastern hero has cheapened the model but I would argue otherwise. You can have just as much fun as Patrols with the ‘proper’ engine, so downsizing this beast won’t hurt Nissan. Best of all, you can still put the hurt on those pesky dunes.