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Bakkie showdown: Patrol vs. Land Cruiser

2014-06-19 08:47

NOT ENOUGH TO TAKE ON THE LAND CRUISER? Alwyn Viljoen believes that despite its strengths, buyers may eschew the new Nissan Patrol in favour of budget-bakkies in SA. Image: Nissan


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I drive a 19-voetsek-old Toyota Land Cruiser. It's quite rusted, the diffs are worn and its wiring problematic. Hence the new Nissan Patrol had me very interested as it's capable - on paper at least - of beating even the latest Cruiser in all categories, except for the size of fuel tanks (see the comparison below).

While the new Patrol costs the same as its four-litre diesel Land Cruiser rival, it's powered by a more efficient three-litre turbodiesel that uses less fuel to produce more power; it can live with longer service intervals; it can pull a ton more on a braked trailer; it has space for three soft-drink cans in each door pocket.

The rest of the nooks and crannies in the Patrol, however, comes second to those found in the Cruiser. The centre console in the Patrol is huge outside, tiny inside. Why waste so much space on the sidewalls? The cupholders are too shallow to hold a cup upright on a shaky road and the small tray in front of the gear-shifter cannot hold a pack of cigarettes in place over bumps.


Better designed cupholders cannot be the only reason why South Africans have been and are still ignoring the Patrol in favour of purchasing several hundred Cruisers each month. To find out if the new Patrol bakkie deserved to be shunned, I asked a grass farmer to load a ton of sods on the back and 1.5 tons on a braked trailer.

Where does all the power go?

The grass farmer, who transports the same 2.5 ton load daily with his lesser-specced three-litre D4-D Toyota Hilux, reported that the Patrol’s brakes were sharper than those on his Hilux.

We agreed his Toyota’s legendary matching of gear ratios with peak torque leaves the new Patrol in the dust, as the turbo in the Nissan needs to produce more torque lower down.

Nissan claims 371Nm at 1800rpm from its 2953cc engine, 86Nm more than the Land Cruiser’s 3956cc unit at 400 fewer revolutions. To put 86Nm into perspective, it's as much extra torque as a Nissan Sentra 1.6-litre engine produces. But that’s all on paper....

On the road, the Patrol’s power kicks in from 2000-2500rpm and with a load you have to work the gears to keep the rev needle in this gap. In 4x4 situations, this means the Patrol's big 16" Bridgestones Duellers have to be raced up inclines where my old Cruiser... well, just cruises out.


This narrow power band is not my main gripe with the new Patrol. Neither was the frustration caused by the two rubber hoses I found dangling under its sump. Those hoses were supposed to connect the breather pipes from the sump to those on the diffs and I suppose they would have worked over Saudi Arabian sand dunes where, incidentally, a lot of Patrol bakkies are sold.

Those dangling rubber hoses when used in Africa however, are placed in exactly the right place to snag tall veld grasses when the Patrol reverses, leaving two breather pipes to suck in whatever muck passes below.

Breather pipes suck or blow because the differentials and sump undergo a lot of temperature changes during an average ride. If a hot sump hits a cold puddle, for example, the volume of air inside the sump shrinks rapidly and unless the breather pipes can suck clean, dust-free air to fill the vacuum the next sucking noise you'll hear is the one the mechanic makes through his teeth as he examines the damage caused by cupful of sludge sucked into the diff or oil.
The 4x4 mechanic I asked for a second opinion on the new Nissan Patrol made exactly that sucking noise as he looked at the exposed tubes. Fingering them he said it best: “Whoever designed this had a major brain-fart." The mechanic also pointed out how the pipes could easily be re-routed to be out of harm's way - as Nissan used to do with its Hardbody range - so this also was not the main fault I found with the Patrol.


The main fault of the 2014 Patrol Pick-up was what people thought about its looks, as voiced independently, two days apart, by a young man in his 20's and a woman in her 40's. Both said: “But it looks like the Tata!”

This is not what you want to hear about your R476 900 Patrol. Especially when the Tata 207DI Worker costs less than R140 000 and makes a steady 225Nm from 1500-2400rpm.

I predict Patrol sales will continue to languish as South African farmers who are not wedded to Toyota explore the many cheaper and very capable workhorse bakkies on sale in SA, (see prices below) including Nissan's NP300 double-cab 4x4 which is on special for R373 200 as part of Nissan's 25th anniversary celebration.

Business, after all, is business, both for Nissan and the farmers who want a cheap and well-designed 4x4 workhorse. The new Patrol is not it and when the bulky bakkie fails to sell as its predecessor did, Nissan is not likely to give the old workhorse another run locally.

This model then, may herald the end of an era in South Africa.

R.I.P Patrol. Viva Cruiser! Viva Mahindra Scorpio! Viva NP300... viva even the Tata Xenon!

Patrol vs Land Cruiser at a glance:
ZD30DDTi - Engine - 1HZ
4-in-line - Cylinders - 6-in-line
16 DOHC - Valves - 12 SOHC
2953cc  - Displacement - 3 956 cc
2.02 - Transfer gear ratio low - 2488
110kW at 3 600 rpm -  Power - 96kW at 3 800 rpm
371Nm at 1 800 rpm - Torque - 285 Nm at 2 200 rpm
2.1m  x 1.8m - Load bin - 2.2m x 1.6m
205mm  - Ground clearance - 235mm
265/70 R16 - Wheel size - 265/70 R16
12.6m - Turning circle - 11.8m
750kg - Towing unbraked - 750kg
2500kg - Towing braked - 1500kg (Isuzu pulls 3.5 tons)
175 litres - Fuel tank - 180 litres
16.9:1 - Compression - 22.4:1
2310kg - Tare weight - 2065 kg
1090kg - Payload - 1135 kg
34° - Approach angle - 38°
30° - Departure angle - 29°
700mm - Wade depth - 700mm
15000km - Service intervals - 10000km
Three years or 100 000km - Warranty - Three years or 100 000km

Top 10 Nm budget workhorse bakkies on sale in SA

Tata Xenon 3.0 Fleetline - 300Nm
Foton Tunland 2.8 Comfort - 280Nm
Mahindra Scorpio Pick-up 2.5 TCI Loader - 258Nm
Mahindra Bolero Loader - 238Nm
JMC Boarding 2.8TD - 235Nm
Mazda BT-50 2.5 SL - 225Nm
Mitsubishi Triton 2.4 GL - 202Nm
Nissan Hardbody NP300 2.0 - 196Nm
GWM Steed 2.2 L Workhorse - 190Nm
Toyota Hilux 2.0 - 182Nm

Top 10 budget workhorse bakkies in price
Mahindra Bolero Loader - R139 995
Tata Xenon 3.0 Fleetline - R157 995
Mahindra Scorpio Pick-up 2.5 TCI Loader - R161 995
GWM Steed 2.2 L Workhorse - R164 999
JMC Boarding 2.8 TD - R170 880
Mitsubishi Triton 2.4 GL - R179 900
Nissan Hardbody NP300 2.0 - R194 200
Mazda BT-50 2.5 SL - R195 600
Toyota Hilux 2.0 VVT-i SC - R201 400
Isuzu KB250 Base - R204 000
Read more on:    toyota  |  tata  |  nissan  |  south africa  |  new models  |  bakkies  |  land cruiser

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