Car reviews - Nissan - Patrol - Ti-L
Keen performance, brilliant vision, generous cabin space, off-road potential, character, rarity, value
Room for improvement
Chintzy styling details, overlight steering, ponderous handling, separate-chassis packaging limitations, fuel thirst compared to a diesel
Belated mid-life facelift for decade-old Y62 Patrol proves there’s life (and potential) in this ageing truck
7 Feb 2020
Time moves slowly for the Nissan Patrol.
The first generation was introduced way back in 1951, yet here we are, almost 70 years later, reviewing the mid-life facelift of generation six – a model whose birth certificate shows it’s now in its second decade of existence.
Mid-life facelift? At 10 years of age? That’s how long it has taken for the Y62 Patrol to be properly forced under the surgeon’s scalpel.
Admittedly, Australia didn’t see the Y62 Nissan Patrol until December 2012, though that still seems like forever ago when you realise that Julia Gillard was our PM at the time! So much water under the bridge…
And yet the Patrol soldiers on, fresh from its first comprehensive makeover since a minor styling update in November ’17.
But is it enough to make Nissan’s V8-engined, separate-chassis 4WD icon look and feel anything but antiquated?
First driving impressions
You approach the Nissan Patrol with an odd mix of curiosity and trepidation – wondering exactly what makes this imposing beast tick, and whether it’s going to buck you off on your first ride.
As detailed by GoAuto back in November 2019, the Y62 Patrol’s mid-life makeover centres around a fresh new look, complete with new bumpers, a new plasti-chrome-laden front grille, chiselled new bonnet, LED head- and tail-lights with striking horseshoe-shaped DRLs up front (and funky sequential indicators at the rear), plus even more chrome on the numberplate garnish.
And, of course, upgraded active-safety equipment shared by both variants (Ti and Ti-L).
But it’s the revised suspension that we’re here to test, based around re-valved dampers for improved resistance at higher piston speeds for “a more comfortable drive”. Translation? Better body control to contain this mothership in a challenging swell.
In the Patrol’s case, “swell” not only means undulating or bumpy road surfaces but also corners. Any corner.
Standing almost as tall as it is wide (1955mm versus 1995mm for the top-spec Ti-L with roof rails), and with such a high centre-of-gravity and seating position, physics is literally the Patrol’s nemesis.
Yet if you treat it with respect, fully aware of its 2750kg mass, its unsporting 265/70R18 all-terrain tyres, and the limitations of its separate-chassis design, it can be hustled surprisingly quickly. And fairly comfortably and quietly, with reasonable body control.
Delicately applied inputs and a smoothly flowing approach to driving leaves the Patrol relatively untroubled, with surprisingly keen off-centre steering response implying there’s more agility here than meets the eye.
Indeed, contain its mass with a degree of competence, especially when turning into a corner, and, for the most part, the Patrol obliges.
But upping your enthusiasm sees its corner trajectory widen, while quick direction changes will rattle the Patrol’s limited composure, as well as your own.
None of this is helped by finger-light power steering assistance or an over-keen throttle calibration, but that’s why the Patrol rewards a slow hand and an easy touch. Cue Pointer Sisters now please DJ.
Nissan’s VK56VD 5.6-litre direct-injection petrol V8 is carried over unchanged from the previous model, for good reason.
Tied to a seven-speed automatic transmission and producing 298kW at 5800rpm and 560Nm at 4000rpm, the beefy Patrol literally leaps off the line – good for 0-100km/h in a surprisingly athletic 7.5 seconds – though weight and Besser-block aerodynamics work against it at higher speeds.
The big Nissan is definitely in its element when towing or off-roading, though it’s an effortless wafter.
It sounds good too, producing a throaty metallic roar as it sends its tacho needle beyond 6000rpm before upshifting.
Pity there’s no Sport mode for the transmission to encourage engine braking on hilly roads.
The official government combined fuel-consumption figure is 14.4L/100km, though we saw a 16-17L/100km average from its trip computer across twisty New Zealand turf, which isn’t putrid for such a big 4WD.
Opinions about the facelifted Patrol’s excessive brightwork are likely to lean towards “chintz”, and much the same will apply to the inside.
Ageing switchgear (Australia misses out on the large central control touchscreen and the joys of Apple CarPlay/Android Auto for the upper 8.0-inch screen sported by overseas models due to sourcing issues – hopefully rectified in the future) and dated walnut-coloured ‘wood’ seem very old-world in 2020, but if you can look beyond that stuff there’s plenty to like.
The Patrol offers superb forward vision from all three rows, though its seats suffer from a noticeable lack of lateral support and, in the back rows, proper under-thigh support.
That said, the Ti-L’s eight-way electric front pair do a respectable job of providing long-distance comfort and there are three tiers of grab handles (door, A-pillar and roof) if the Patrol’s body lean becomes too much!
Revised climate-control effectiveness delivers Dubai-spec cooling ability – noticeably improved, Nissan claims, for the roof-mounted vents in both rear rows.
And even for adults, wedging yourself into the rearmost section isn’t anywhere near as detestable as you might think it would be.
The centre backrests flip forward before double-tumbling with the seat cushion, enabling easy rear entry, though the backrests only return to a fully upright position.
And when all seven seats are in use (eight seats in the entry-level Patrol Ti), there isn’t a whole lot of boot space left – about on par with a Mazda CX-9.
We didn’t get to try the new Patrol in proper off-roading conditions – merely on loose, dusty dirt surfaces, where it delivered a surprising amount of oversteer at times, reined in by its ESC system – though it certainly has the mechanical goods for grubby work.
Independent double-wishbone front and rear suspension systems, four-wheel ventilated disc brakes and 273mm of ground clearance, plus a rear helical limited-slip differential, electronic rear diff lock, and ‘rock’ and ‘sand’ modes for its 4WD system prove the Patrol hasn’t forgotten its roots.
As we speculated back in December after driving Nissan’s locally developed Navara N-Trek Warrior, perhaps there’s enough fundamental goodness in the Patrol to make it truly formidable given some Warrior-style attention.
As it stands, there’s unexpected value in what the big Nissan offers – particularly at $76K Patrol Ti level with its improved active-safety equipment, eight-seat ability, and more restrained chrome treatment.
If you can afford the fuel bill, that is.
Model release date: 1 December 2019
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