Car reviews - Nissan - Patrol - Y61 Legend Edition
Off-the-shelf go-anywhere versatility, generous equipment, justified legendary reputation
Room for improvement
Dated tech, unforgiving ride, bare-minimum on-road grunt
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8 Dec 2016
THERE can’t be many models in history that still sold at a rate of about 150 a month after being on the market virtually unchanged for nearly two decades, but the Y61 series Nissan Patrol has done exactly that.
The Japanese car-maker reports that some customers are now demanding more safety, refinement and comfort features but, for many, the recipe still makes sense: bomb-proof construction and simple four-wheel drive system in a tough truck that has been around so long that any gremlins or bugs have been ironed out long ago.
Alas, the party could not go on forever. Dated features and the upcoming Euro 5 diesel emissions standards were the final nails in the coffin, but there is still time to dash out and get your hands on one of the 300 Legend Editions before Nissan calls it a day.
For $57,990 driveaway, customers are offered the same package as the manual Patrol ST plus more than $10,000 worth of extra kit. The four-speed auto commands a $3000 premium.
Unlike some other limited-edition vehicles, we are not just talking posh paint and leather because Nissan recognises that Y61 customers are serious about going places others dare not, and in the case of the final version, it has added genuine go-anywhere extras – many of which most customers would bolt on as soon as the Patrol left the showroom. These include a roo-bar with electric winch, tow bar, seriously tough roof rack and a snorkel.
The key difference is that, essentially, customers are getting the kit for free, because the cost of a standard Patrol ST starts at $57,390 before on-road costs. That’s a pretty compelling deal for anyone looking to hit the road and see every part of Australia.
In addition to the bolt-on bits, the Legend Edition also gets navigation and a reversing camera plus decals on the front doors and a matching spare wheel cover to complete the look.
With a modest 118kW and 354Nm from its 3.0-litre four-pot diesel, on-road performance is as you would expect from a large SUV that weighs 2.5 tonnes.
Cruising is no problem, but getting there can be a little tiresome, even with a light load. With a trailer hooked up and the whole family along for the ride, Y61 drivers would require patience.
But owners of a Y61 do not buy the well-travelled model to sit on freeways all day, and the Legend Edition comes into its own as soon as the road turns into a track.
It might be as old as the Flinders Ranges (okay, not quite), but the Patrol still wants for nothing when off-road. The reason the model still sells in such consistent numbers is because of that unchanged and almost unstoppable go-anywhere ability.
Even in pure rear-drive and high range gear ratios, the Patrol handled almost everything we threw it, and only had to switch the good old-fashioned levers into 4WD and low-range for some serious ground work.
With a combination of simple diesel torque and nuts-and-bolts four-wheel drive, the Y61 is still up there with some much newer hardware when the trail gets tough.
We particularly like the almost commercial vehicle seating position that gives the driver a good view of surroundings, regardless of the gradient, and offers a comfortable place to sit even when the Patrol has been bucking over challenging obstacles most of the day.
Passengers are offered a good selection of panic handles to keep themselves in place when off road. We frequently used them.
With the dry Australian summer in full swing, we didn’t get a chance to use the Legend Edition’s snorkel, nor did we test the roo bar, despite the plethora of native species that shared the trails with us. The same applied to the tow bar, winch and roof rack but we fully understand the value of the kit, and so will long-standing 4WD fans.
On typical corrugated unsealed tracks the Y61 is not very good at insulating the cabin from vibration and noise. This could become exhausting after extended journeys – a point highlighted by a short time spent at the wheel of the petrol-onlyY62 Patrol.
While the latter is technically a successor to the Y61, it is in name alone, and offers a completely different character to the Legend Edition.
Its leather interior is quiet and cosy despite being cavernous in volume, and its thirsty petrol V8 is smooth and silent. We flicked the variable drive modes into the ‘rock’ setting and climbed over boulders and ascents with all of the prowess of the Y61 but in silky comfort.
The newer Patrol also has clear advantages on-road too with surprisingly good acceleration, a quiet cabin and a heap of comfort features.
It is remarkable how Nissan has engineered the Y62 Patrol with such off-road capability along with superb on-road manners, and customers wanting to switch over to the Y62 will appreciate the refinements over the ageing model.
But that’s an erroneous argument because it is unlikely the staunch Y61 owner will ever aspire to something as different and evolved, so what can fill the void left by the model’s parting? Toyota can still offer the 70 Series LandCruiser with a big V8 diesel, while Mercedes has just weighed in with the Professional variant of its tough G-Class, but Nissan reports a growing number of brand-loyal customers are being won over by the smaller Navara as well.
The Y61 Patrol is like that pair of gum boots you have had longer than you can remember. They still do their job as well as they always have and probably would for many more years but one day it is time to buy a new pair.
As it moves into the history books, one of the longest running models to be sold Down Under unchanged leaves behind a colourful and esteemed record, and deserves to be remembered as a legend.
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