Nissan Patrol review, test drive
27th Mar 2015 6:00 pm
A mighty 4x4 known for its off-roading prowess, the Patrol might be paving its way to our roads. This is what it feels like to drive the luxury SUV.
What is it?
In case the name is unfamiliar, the Patrol is to Nissan what the Land Cruiser is to Toyota. That is, a full- sized body-on-frame SUV with an air of indestructibility. Importantly, it’s a model that’s under consideration for India. Nissan has still not confirmed if and when it would be launched, but did let us have a go in a demo vehicle shipped in from Dubai — coincidentally the single largest market for the Patrol.
The first thing to note about the Patrol is its size. Well over five metres long and just under two metres tall, in a word, it’s massive. And while the basic shape is typical of supertanker-sized SUVs, the Patrol’s large headlights and chrome-heavy grille do make it look particularly imposing. Elsewhere, styling is neat with the smart kink to the large glasshouse at the C-pillar being a notable feature.
If there’s anything a large body and large windows spell out, it’s a whole lot of cabin space. There’s a good foot or so between the large, fully powered front seats! Middle-row passengers have a great deal of space to stretch out as well, with lots of leg, shoulder and headroom. The level of comfort from the supportive leather seats is no less special. Third row passengers don’t have it all that bad either. Sure, access might feel awkward and the knees-up seating position isn’t ideal, but as last rows go, it feels roomy, helped in no small measure by the large windows that offer a good view.
The view within the cabin isn’t disappointing either. A rich mix of leather, wood, metal and chrome gives it a robust feel. Even the dashboard looks smart with a very luxury yacht-like swoop to the top. There’s loads by way of features too. Part of the package is a Bose audio system with 13 speakers, and dual seven-inch screens for the middle-row can be had as well.
What is it like to drive?
The subject of the Patrol’s engine is a bit debatable. Debatable only because the Patrol doesn’t come with a diesel engine which is something that could limit its appeal in India. But let’s focus on the engine it does come with. The Patrol draws power from a massive 5.6-litre V8 that makes 400bhp and 56kgm of torque. And what an engine it is. It’s beautifully quiet and smooth at lazy speeds. But choose to press down on the accelerator and the soundtrack changes to a throaty V8 burble with a rapid build-up in pace. Nissan claims a 0-100kph time of just 6.6 seconds which, for an SUV that weighs 3.5 tonnes, is remarkable.
What also comes as a pleasant surprise is handling. Tall and heavy as a monument, the Patrol doesn’t feel all that wallowy. Body roll is pretty well-contained and a lot of that is down to what Nissan calls ‘Hydraulic Body Motion Control’. The system uses cross-linked hydraulic chambers integrated into each shock absorber to automatically control suspension travel. When cornering, roll stiffness is increased, reducing the amount of body lean over the outside wheels.
Even at low speeds, the Patrol is quite impressive in the sense it doesn’t drive as if it’s so heavy. The steering is light and makes the oversized SUV feel quite maneuverable. But maneuverability is just a pleasant add-on. What Patrols are best known for is their off-road ability and this one truly lives up to that reputation. In brief, the Patrol relies on all-independent suspension, full-time 4WD with selectable low range, Hill Descent Control and Hill Start Assist. There are also four- selectable off-road modes which function similar to Land Rover’s terrain response system. And, does the tech work. On the fairly challenging off-road course we let loose on, the Patrol was just plain and simply unstoppable. Little reason, the mighty Nissan is such a common sight on the dunes in the Middle East.
Should I buy one?
For now, you can’t. As mentioned before, Nissan is yet to finalise the Patrol for India. Even if brought in, the Patrol won’t come cheap and will be priced upwards of Rs 1 crore (estimated; ex-showroom, India).
And that begs the question, is there really a market for the Patrol in India? Luxury SUV buyers already have plenty of options to choose from, all of which come with diesel engines and belong to more, well, premium manufacturers. Given the options already available, the Patrol, then, would make for an off-beat choice. It’s a model that will appeal to a small set of luxury SUV buyers who don’t mind looking beyond the badge, to whom the large V8’s petrol bills won’t be much of a bother and to those who simply want something as all-conquering as this. Sure, Nissan is unlikely to sell too many Patrols here but it’s also something we’d just love to see on (and off) Indian roads. Let’s just hope Nissan brings it us soon.