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Car reviews - Nissan - Patrol - ST 4.2 TDi 5-dr wagon

Our Opinion

We like
Go-anywhere capability, large interior
Room for improvement
No permanent 4WD for urban use

6 Jun 2001

NISSAN'S big capacity 4.2-litre turbo-diesel Patrol comes onto the market as the heavyweight of the Nissan 4WD range.

With a maximum towing capacity of 6540kg and a kerb weight of 2395kg, it is truck-like not only in dimensions but also in capabilities.

Nissan says the big turbo-diesel is targeted at rural buyers or those with heavy duty towing requirements.

It is certainly equipped for the task. The new turbo is based on the normally aspirated 4.2 diesel but winds out extra power at lower rpm (114kW at 3600rpm compared to 91kW at 4000rpm) and makes big gains in torque with a maximum of 330Nm developed at a lazy 2000rpm. The normally aspirated diesel produces 272Nm at 2000rpm.

All this torque is readily accessible as, according to Nissan, the turbo produces 95 per cent of its 330Nm peak by 1500rpm.

Driving the new turbo reveals that a lot more pulling power has indeed been unleashed.

It does not have the V8-like grunt of Toyota's departed LandCruiser turbo diesel but is a strong workhorse that allows easy cruising and reasonably quick acceleration.

It is quite responsive on the open road. Acceleration in traffic is brisk enough to keep pace between traffic lights and there is no trouble passing slower traffic out on the freeway. It is relatively smooth and quiet for a diesel.

And it should return better fuel figures than the thirsty 4.5- litre petrol six-cylinder used in the top of the line TI model.

The lever for the five-speed manual gearbox (no automatic is available) feels weighty and lengthy of travel but the clutch action is smooth and light, helping make ratio swaps an easy matter.

From the captain's chair, the 2.4-tonne truck does not exactly shrink around the driver but good steering feel - not too weighty and not too keen to relay every shimmy and stone to the driver - promotes confidence around town and through the bush.

Ride is well controlled and absorbent for a big 4WD and it responds to the helm reasonably well, although the driver is always aware of the Patrol's height and weight - and the limited tarmac grip capacity of the heavy-duty tyres.

Tyre noise and tyre thump are not intrusive and aside from a little wind noise - understandable given its bulk - the Patrol cuts a blunt but quiet hole through the air.

To get a feel for Patrol's giant size, spend a few kilometres in the rearmost row of seats - assuming you can find someone to look after your feet, as there is little space for adult boots. It is a long way to the windscreen from there.

The 4.2 turbo-diesel is only available in mid-level ST trim which means it is well equipped with seven seats, driver airbag, air- conditioning, power windows and mirrors, central locking and an in-dash CD player.

About the only glaring deficit when compared to the Toyota LandCruiser - or even the latest generation Nissan Pathfinder - is the lack of on-tarmac 4WD ability. Will Nissan one day give the Patrol constant 4WD?

Otherwise, the new turbo-diesel is similar to the petrol-engined Patrols.

Large side doors allow easy access to the centre seats. These tip forward aided by a gas strut and can be tied up to the grab handles. The rear row folds up sideways and can be similarly hooked up.

Once inside, it is quickly discovered the interior is very spacious with 90mm more leg room, 75mm more shoulder room and 40mm more elbow room up front than the previous GQ model.

Luggage space is also significantly increased over the GQ - by 42 per cent says Nissan - but the rear fold-up seats steal width from the load bed.

Nissan gives the diesel a 40-litre sub-tank, bringing the on- board fuel dump capacity to 135 litres.

The new Patrol feels stiffer than the old model, more solidly built and with a driver airbag standard on ST - dual airbags and anti-lock brakes are available only on the TI - a safer place to be in the event of an "incident".

Hard-core Patrol owners might think the styling a bit prissy for their no-nonsense approach to towing a family and its caravan/boat/trailer, but at least Nissan has maintained its two- wheel drive option for sealed-road driving. That saves steering effort, fuel consumption and wear and tear, something Nissan's practical buyers appreciate.

This is the second turbo-diesel in Nissan's Patrol range. The company has been offering a smaller 2.8-litre overhead camshaft model that goes back to GQ days.

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