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Nissan back on Patrol

We all know that Nissan sells a seven-figure Rand value car in South Africa. GT-R. No surprise there. But now, there’s a second Nissan million Rand offering, an SUV. A very large SUV with a name which is self-explanatory: Patrol.

It’s been a very long time waiting for the seventh-generation Patrol to compete with its old rival, Land Cruiser’s 200. In a country where luxury seven-seater SUVs at times earn their keep by traversing terrain that will make most double-cab 4×4 owners scout for safer passing, Patrol and Land Cruiser provide what most European large SUVs can’t: old-school engineering strength, with modern cabin convenience and luxury.

Technically, the seventh-gen Patrol is not a complicated car. There’s no turbocharged engine, torque vectoring or air-suspension. Instead you get a massive 5.6-litre naturally-aspirate petrol V8, body-on-frame construction and sensibly sized 18-inch wheels rolling fat profile tyres. It’s an enormous vehicle at nearly 5.2m in length, and with a turning circle of 12.5m, not something you’d want to commute in during peak traffic.

That said, there’s no shortage of cabin space and despite the odd Japanese teak wood finish, there’s an oxblood leather option which is pretty decent, and a vast array of standard equipment. You’re unlikely to get a nasty option list surprise with Patrol, because there’s essentially nothing to load onto the sticker price of R1 299 00.

The engine is unusual, an un-boosted V8 with that lusty sound and throttle linearity so rarely encountered in a contemporary SUV market dominated by twin-turbocharged engines. Shifting through a seven-speed automatic transmission, you’re always aware of Patrol’s substantial 2746kkg mass, but it’s not lazy, just predictably thirsty. Nissan claims average consumption of 14.1l/100km, but you are likely to see something a lot closer to 20l/100km if you are accessing that V8 engine’s performance.

Toyota only offers its Land Cruiser 200 in diesel and ultimately, despite its 140-litre fuel tank, Patrol will always be a range disadvantage to the 200 due to its comparative fuel thirst. If you’re seeking the superior dune driving SUV between the two, Nissan is on to something with this new SUV. See, the spread of power across a wider rev-range than any turbodiesel (it peaks at 5800rpm with 298kW), is also managed by seven gears instead of six, which theoretically makes Patrol the better sand blasting off-roader. It’s a notion supported by evidence of Patrol’s popularity in the UAE.

Patrol is targeted at a very specific audience, those who require the space of a seven-seater luxury SUV, but aren’t bothered about body roll in corners. It’s a customer who spends their December vacation doing serious African Safari touring, and they wish to do it in luxury: with Bose surround sound, seated on quality leather upholstery. They also wan to get there quickly, where the petrol V8’s performance and overtaking benefit mitigates against its crushing fuel consumption.

The only luxury SUVs which offer this blend of passenger comfort and off-road ruggedness, are ‘Cruiser 200 and Patrol. Toyota dominates the market with an average of 100 Land Cruiser 200s sold each month, and Nissan is seeing Patrol as a halo product, instead of a Land Cruiser volume competitor.

If you need something a touch more appealing on the eye than the 200, and don’t mind the corpulent fuel consumption of running a large capacity V8, it’s a very welcome return to purpose for Patrol. Makes a lot more sense for people wo actually gravel travel (or go on Namibian/Mozambique sand driving expeditions) than a seven-seat Land Rover of similar size.

Nissan Patrol 5.6-litre V8, 298kW, 560Nm, 0-100kph in 7.9 sec, top speed: 210kph,

 

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