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Car reviews - Nissan - Patrol - Warrior


We like
Instant torque, huge ground clearance, side exit exhaust with raucous tone, OEM quality components
Room for improvement
Plastic front bar, wide through tight tracks, no confirmed price as of yet

Nissan Patrol gets the Warrior treatment

15 Jun 2023



INITIAL sales of the latest-generation Nissan Patrol were slow in Australia after the diesel six cylinder was replaced by a petrol V8.  Sales are now growing on the back of comparative affordability bolstered by the imminent arrival of a beefed up Warrior variant.


In fact, Nissan is expecting its second year of record Patrol sales in a row despite the model platform being more than a decade old, and with reports of a new Y63 on the cards.


“Patrol continues to grow year-on-year,” Nissan manager of local product development, Matthew Baily said.


“Last year was a record year for Patrol and this year, we’re on track for another record year.”


Like its Navara stablemate, the Patrol will be re-worked by local engineering and manufacturing firm, Premcar, with OEM quality components and a full five-year factory warranty.


Premcar has developed more than 200,000 vehicles across the past 27 years, most notably the Ford Performance Vehicles (FPV) range, and is well versed in taking production vehicles and making them, well, more hardcore.


GoAuto was given access to a pre-production Patrol Warrior, to drive on- and off-road on a closed circuit, as well as a rundown of vehicle improvements and specifications.


Just about everything was looked at by Premcar throughout the extensive engineering and development process that’s been underway for the last few years.

“Whenever we do a Warrior program, we increase the bandwidth of capability of the vehicle,” Premcars engineering director, Bernie Quinn said.


“So practically what that means is, if we do a suspension program we can’t sacrifice on-road comfort for off-road capability, we have to actually just increase the bandwidth not shift it.


“So we’ve taken the Y62, which is a really fantastic product, and we’ve enhanced it to the next level.”


Firstly, the Warrior retains the standard 298kW/560Nm petrol V8 engine, coupled exclusively to a seven-speed automatic transmission, which is in many ways the main drawcard for the Patrol.


The Warrior sits 50mm higher than a standard Patrol which offers oodles of ground clearance - even more obvious in the metal with its towering stance.


Nissan’s complex Hydraulic Body Motion Control (HBMC) suspension system, used to eliminate the need for anti-roll bars, has stumped the aftermarket since the Patrol’s release.


Premcar poured over the hydraulic system, properly enhancing it for better handling alongside a revised suspension setup.


“We have retuned the HBMC system for the different ride height and vehicle dynamic characteristics targeted in this vehicle - because we know what Australian customers want,” Mr Quinn said.


A softer front spring was opted for, as well as triple-rate progressive springs in the rear. We’ll get into it later, but the suspension is noticeably better.


“We've got a soft rate for compliance and off road articulation, we’ve got a middle rate which allows us to put a 3.5-tonne caravan or boat or whatever on the back of the car and not have it sitting down at the rear, and also another rate to make sure the spring remains captive at full suspension droop,” Mr Quinn said.


“So we get full suspension articulation, great ride comfort and great towing ability with these springs.”


New black 18-inch wheels are wrapped in more off-road oriented Yokohama all-terrain tyres measuring in at 34.4-inches, with new guard flares designed to fit the beefy tyres inside the arches.


It’s a V8 after all, which Premcar has plenty of experience with, so the soundtrack was also suitably enhanced.


Side-exit exhaust tips on the right side offer full noise out of the bi-modal system, which during ordinary driving sends gases to the rear. A little trick we discovered is flicking the shifter over to tiptronic, where the bi-modal system remains wide open for maximum aural excitement.


A blacked-out exterior and interior, doing away with much of the dated chrome accents, has modernised the looks of the Warrior and custom Alcantara interior trim adds some premium flair.


Adding to the Australian manufacturing success story that is Premcar’s Warrior program, Mr Quinn confirmed that more than 80 per cent of the parts are sourced locally.


“It really is a great story because all the manufacturing jobs that we're creating through these programs get extrapolated out amongst the suppliers as well,” he said.


Thanks to the huge success of the N-Trek Warrior, Pro-4X Warrior, and SL Warrior Navara models, and in preparing for the forthcoming Patrol Warrior, Premcar has expanded its production footprint.


The firm has set up a second facility in Epping, alongside its current Engineering and Production Centre, which it says will result in more than 100 new jobs.


This is a rewarding announcement,” Mr Quinn said.


Our current Engineering and Production facility has produced more than 5000 new

vehicles and adding this new production centre is set to grow this much further.


“Most of all, it will create many new Australian manufacturing jobs, which is especially important for the local automotive industry.”


Both Navara and Patrol variants will be built out of the two facilities, bringing Premcar’s total footprint to more than 13,000 square metres - larger than it has ever been.


By several measures, Premcar is larger than when it was developing and

producing the Ford Performance Vehicles (FPV) range in Australia,” Mr Quinn said.


“Its another great sign Australias car-making know-how is thriving.”


So, how does it drive? We only had about an hour to play in the new Warrior, but it left us smiling from ear to ear.



Driving Impressions


Being a pre-production model, the Warrior couldn’t be driven on public roads but we were able to take it for a fang around Mount Cotton’s off-road tracks and fast on-road loop.


The V8 soundtrack is instantly recognisable, but it’s a fair bit angrier than a stock Y62 Patrol, encouraging generous right foot input at every opportunity.


Off-road, the vehicle’s width increase was noticeable through tight sections but not to the point of limiting where we could take it.


While the tracks weren’t too gnarly, the Warrior handled them with ease and left us yearning for more challenging terrain.


The grip from the new all-terrain tyres, fully inflated mind you, was impressive off-road and the torque of the V8 means only the roughest of terrain requires low-range.


Flick into low-range and the Warrior is incredibly urgent, with none of the delayed response we’re used to from diesels, the punchy V8 itching to go at all times.


We were also able to carry more pace than expected through some fairly rough sections, proving that Premcar’s suspension fettling has done very good things.


Ground clearance is immense, for a stock 4x4 wagon, and as expected we didn’t even get close to finding the limits - even deliberately taking treacherous lines over some large rocks.


Back on the blacktop, the softer front-end became apparent as we pushed the Warrior a little harder than it’s intended to be used on-road. It was a closed course, after all.


Comfort is up, despite also being more capable dynamically overall, and road noise is barely noticeable which is something Premcar clearly factored in when deciding on these Yokohama tyres.


The plush front end, progressive rear, and mighty soundtrack together offer an inspired driving experience that makes the Warrior a hell of a lot more exciting than a standard Patrol.


Visually it’s a lot tougher in the flesh, too, and the interior feels far less dated with the addition of alcantara and blacked out features.


While price hasn’t been confirmed, the Patrol Warrior is an obvious competitor to the Toyota Land Cruiser 300 Series GR Sport, which is priced around the $140,000 mark.


Our prediction is that the Patrol Warrior will come in just under the GR Sport, but that’s purely an educated guess and no hints were given by Nissan or Premcar during the media presentations - unfortunately.

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