New Patrol now fully independent
The latest version of Japan’s ‘other’ all-conquering 4x4 wagon, Nissan’s Patrol, has been unveiled in the Middle-East.
Although not nearly as popular locally as Toyota’s Land Cruiser, the Patrol has always been the thinking man’s oversized overlander wagon.
Chunkily styled, with utterly reliable powertrains and unbreakable solid-axle wheel attachment gear front and rear, it’s generally an unflappable companion for those severely testing family vacations - to the Congo...
In Australia the Patrol wagon is justifiably lionised, especially considering it was the first vehicle to successfully cross the Simpson Desert back in the early 1960s.
The seventh generation Patrol, revealed in the United Arab Emirates this week, is a much more contemporarily styled vehicle than its processor. Digitisation and luxury trinkets are rampant too. Hardcore 4x4 enthusiasts are in for a few nasty shocks though…
New Patrol exchanges solid-axles for independent suspension at all four wheel corners. No issue in sand, over rocky terrain though...
Fully independent – baby
Beyond the newfangled styling symmetry (Patrol’s chunky proportions have been significantly softened) Nissan’s big 4x4 wagon still manages to retain a semblance of handsomeness.
With the side glass surfacing framed by a tidy chrome surround, a neatly executed hatch assembly and air intakes above the front wheel arches it’s an infinitely better looking attempt at an Oriental Range Rover than Toyota’s VX200.
Mechanically the new Patrol rides on an Infiniti QX56 platform, which means plenty of clever chassis control technologies, but, unfortunately a scrapping of those constant-clearance solid axles.
Despite the all-wheel independently suspended insult to traditional Patrol sensibilities, the new chassis does usher in many ‘nice-to-haves.’
Whereas the previous Patrol was essentially a really big box on a ladder frame chassis with a reduction ratio transmission and one aft axle locker, the new one has a raft of driver aids.
This latest Patrol features a hydraulic body motion control system (HBMC) which – much as Toyota’s KDSS – should cure any lane-wandering in strong crosswinds at high speed. Nissan says the HBMC system enables a more generous suspension stroke too, which should improve wheel articulation – optimising traction off-road.
Another change to the Patrol’s drivetrain is a newly developed ALL MODE, switch operated, 4x4 system – similar to Land-Rover’s groundbreaking (excuse the pun) Terrain Response set-up.
Nissan’s ALL MODE features four selectable modes – sand, on-road, rock and snow – with all engine, transmission and suspension parameters automatically adjusted at the twist of a switch.
For off-road novices Nissan has (finally) added both hill start assist and descent control, which means in low-range you can safely canter downhill at a steady 4km/h.
Two additional cylinders and 800cc of extra capacity hikes power by more than 100kW over the old in-line six.
GT-R racing power?
Powering the latest Patrol is a 5.6l direct-injection V8 borrowed from the American market's Titan bakkie range. Coincidently this engine – in derestricted form – powers Nissan’s 2010 FIA GT1 GT-R racecar too…
Nissan is coy concerning other available engines for the new Patrol, currently only listing the 5.6l V8 – rated at 294kW and 560Nm. Drive is via a new seven-speed automatic transmission – which should aid in-gear-flexibility (especially at low-speeds) and economy.
With a trifle more than 100 additional kilowatts at its disposal (compared to the sixth-generation Patrol’s in-line six engine) Nissan has fitted a new brake booster system, and slotted four-piston callipers up front to actuate the larger 358mm rotors. Subsequently, braking performance is claimed to be best in class...
Although still Ocean Liner sized dimensionally, the new Patrol mirrors suchlike luxury in terms of its cabin architecture and appointments too. There is a surfeit of leather, wood grain panelling and polished aluminium finishes.
Overall, the new cabin architecture would appear to flow better, yet still has too much oddly grained wood (Japanese teak?) and light coloured leather to bother Land Rover or Merc’s GL in terms of cabin ambience.
Passengers will be heartened to hear Nissan has redesigned the front seats to be wider and deeper, whilst second row passengers benefit from an additional 100mm of legroom.
Stubby transfer case level replaced by All Mode system, freeing up stowage space between the seats. Cabin has neat shapes and surfaces, steering wheel now (mercifully) devoid of woodgrain rim.
Very clever A/C
Nissan has improved the Patrol’s infotainment suite with a multi-screen DVD capable entertainment/navigation system. The capacious centre console cool-box is now double-hinged too, enabling front or second row passengers easy access to chilled fluids…
Harking back to the Patrol’s legendary desert crossing capabilities, Nissan’s engineers have equipped the cabin with a ‘curtain vent’ air-conditioning system. This neat innovation vents a strong flow of cool air down from openings in the roof above each window – acting as a barrier to cabin heat penetration.
Unfortunately it might be quite a while until (if?) we see the new Patrol station wagon locally.
Continental European markets seem unlikely to get it at all, with only the American, Middle-Eastern and Australian markets virtually certainties.