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Car reviews - Nissan - Patrol - DX Hardtop 2-dr wagon

Our Opinion

We like
Good looking, tough, durable, relatively comfortable, awesome off-road ability
Room for improvement
On-road abilities not up to modern SUV standards, thirsty engines, tight rear seat space, firm ride

20 Jun 2003

THE Nissan Patrol has been popular with four-wheel drive buyers in Australia since the 1960s.

Over the years it has evolved from a utilitarian, truck-based workhorse into a much more comfortable and user-friendly vehicle without losing any toughness.

It has also enabled Ford to compete in the local four-wheel drive sector since 1988 by selling the Japanese-assembled Nissan range in Australia as the Maverick.

The Series 2 GQ Patrol was released in early 1992. Externally, there were only minor changes to the sheet metal but occupant safety took a step forward with the introduction of anti-intrusion bars in the doors and a collapsible steering column.

The Patrol was sold in short or long-wheelbase versions although most buyers went for the long-wheelbase wagons because of their people-moving ability and luggage space.

The three-door, short-wheelbase versions of the Patrol have ample room for five people but there is only limited cargo space behind the rear seats.

Access to the rear is easy through the two side-hinged rear doors.

Hardtops may have lacked appeal because of the smaller interior space but they compensated in other areas.

They are lighter, easier to drive and much more manoeuvrable on winding bush tracks and in the parking lot.

The short wheelbase did not affect the hardtop's towing ability. It is quite capable of heavy duty towing with a double horse float or a big boat not presenting any problems.

Short-wheelbase models were sold with two levels of equipment - the DX and ST.

The DX level has the basic comforts including power steering, velour trimmed seats, carpeted floors and a four-speaker AM/FM radio/cassette. Air-conditioning and aluminium side steps were options.

The 4.2-litre, six-cylinder engine could not be called hi-tech with a carburettor and two pushrod-operated valves per cylinder. But it is strong and durable with a competitive power output of 125kW at 4200rpm and 325Nm of torque at 2800rpm.

The standard transmission is, like most of the Patrol's rivals, a five-speed manual.

The Series 2 Patrol marked the introduction of an optional four- speed automatic with electronic control and a lock-up torque converter for the DX.

The part-time four-wheel drive system has a conventional high/low ratio transfer case driving front and rear live axles.

The Patrol's short wheelbase, which at 2400mm is about the same length as a small car such as a Hyundai Excel, makes for a ride characterised by a lot more fore and aft pitching than the long- wheelbase wagons.

The other downside of the short wheelbase is the steering does not have the directional stability of long-wheelbase Patrols.

Given some decent tyres on the 16-inch wheels, the Hardtop is as safe and vice-free as any other heavy four-wheel drive with a high centre of gravity.

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