Patrol is a throwback to simpler era

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IOL mot jul11 patrol

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Latest Nissan Patrol 4x4 is now powered by a 3-litre, four-cylinder turbodiesel.

Road Test: Nissan Patrol 3.0 DTi pick-up

Johannesburg - In a modern world dominated by WiFi zones, celebrity diets, and cars that are getting ever closer to driving themselves, Nissan’s Patrol bakkie – despite its latest upgrade – is a throwback to an earlier and simpler era.

When handed the key to our test vehicle, it was an actual key. Not an electronic fob that you press to open your centrally-locked vehicle with a “blip”, but an honest-to-goodness, old-fashioned key that you jab into the door lock and twist. Just like you did with the old Nissan 1400 bakkie.

It was an apt introduction to a single-cab workhorse that’s about as old-school as they get.

This is a bakkie built for hauling haystacks around farms, and the first time I drove it I resisted an urge to don khaki shorts, rugby socks, and hang a stick of biltong from the rear-view mirror.

Compared to today’s increasingly refined and car-like bakkies which often play more of a leisure than workhorse role, the Patrol is pretty crude. It’s noisy, the clutch is heavy, and it has a choppy ride when there’s no load in the back (a herd of sheep, for instance) to put some weight on the rear leaf-spring suspension. In the corners it feels about as nimble as a cargo ship.

IOL mot jul11 patrol int

Cabin has the basic creature comforts.

But there’s plenty of old-school toughness here, a perfect match for the tough-as-nails farmer who wears shorts in winter. It feels basically unbreakable, and gives the impression that if it were hit by a wrecking ball, it would hit back.

A tough ladder-frame chassis, along with an elevated ground clearance and highly articulated suspension, gives this 4x4 packhorse the ability to go roaming just about anywhere it pleases. A part-time 4x4 system, along with low range and a rear differential lock, delivers traction to go romping through the most geographically exotic turf.

Being the old-school vehicle it is, you still have to get out and lock the front hubs manually.

Approach and departure angles of 34 and 30 degrees respectively, and a 700mm wading depth, are further examples of this Nissan’s rugged trail-busting abilities.

SMALLER ENGINE

Nissan’s venerable all-terrain bakkie has been updated with wider tyres for improved grip, and the widened rear track is now in line with the front track to offer superior sand-road driving. The biggest change is under the bonnet, with a new 3-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel engine replacing the old 4.2 straight-six. Despite the new engine’s reduced capacity, power and torque have increased from 90kW/282Nm to 110kW/371Nm thanks to the 16 valves, common-rail injection and intercooling. That makes it more powerful than its most obvious rival, the Toyota Land Cruiser 79 4.2 diesel bakkie which makes 96kW/285Nm and is identically priced at R476 900.

Power feels just about adequate in normal commuting but this big workhorse doesn’t get going in a hurry. Although it is capable of (eventually) cruising at the national speed limit and a little more, this is more of a low-revving, load-hauling kind of performance. The towing capacity’s a hard-working 2 500kg.

There’s a full-sized spare wheel mounted behind the passenger rear window. It doesn’t take up much loading space but sits squarely in your blind spot when changing lanes, which becomes bothersome.

Two fuel tanks totalling 175 litres give this Patrol extra-long legs between fillups – up to 1600km if you can believe Nissan’s 10.9l/100km fuel consumption claim.

SEMI-MODERN CABIN

Available in a single model, the new Patrol Pickup 3.0 DTi 4x4 5-speed manual, this bakkie isn’t quite as “Fred Flintstone” in its interior execution as the Toyota Land Cruiser. There’s soft velour covering the Nissan’s seats, and the curvy dash has modern twist-style ventilation controls versus the Toyota’s 1980s-era sliding levers.

Basic creature comforts like air conditioning, tilt-adjustable power steering, and electric windows are part of the Patrol’s standard spec sheet, while safety equipment comprises two airbags and ABS brakes. But the outside mirrors have to be adjusted manually, and if you want a radio you’ll have to buy one extra.

If the budget’s willing you can accessorise it with a host of optional extras like spot lights, cattle rails, replacement bumper, winch, and snorkel, among others.

VERDICT

Like Africa, the Nissan Patrol bakkie isn’t for sissies. It’s rough around the edges compared to a Nissan Navara, but basically unbeatable as a heavy-duty 4x4 workhorse for hauling loads through inhospitable turf. And it’s more powerful than the competition.

It costs R476 900, which includes a three-year/100 000km warranty and 15 000km service intervals.

Star Motoring


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