In places such as the US and Dubai there is a “bigger is better” culture. Nowhere is it more obvious than in the huge pick-ups and SUVs. In the US, a model like the Infiniti QX80 or Nissan Patrol would not stand out too much because everything else on the road is big.
The QX80 is no longer officially available in SA after Nissan suspended importing any new Infiniti models, but the large gap has been filled by the very large Patrol which debuted in SA towards the end of last year.
It is difficult to explain how big the Patrol really is without seeing it. We said the same about the QX80, essentially the same vehicle but with more luxury.
It is 5 165mm long and 1 940mm high. The width excluding the wing mirrors is 1 995mm but those mirrors are huge. Normally I don’t forgive people who take up two parking spaces with their precious car but the Patrol barely fits in most spaces so I would understand. And that’s just because of its width. At 5.16m long it sticks out of most spaces too and then you need even more space when you have to open the tailgate which is large enough to put a small country in the shade.
But like the Lexus LX570, the Patrol is not designed just to intimidate people in smaller vehicles, it has been engineered to go anywhere and do so while its occupants are relaxed in premium luxury. Not surprisingly there is a vast amount of leather covering seven seats, thick padding on the touch points such as the dashboard and door trims and covering the centre storage armrest which itself is so big that beneath it sits a refrigerated compartment.
If it wasn’t for all the luxury you could feel like you were at the wheel of a big truck as you look down on the rest of the traffic. Even minibus taxis gave it a wide berth on the highway.
For R1 299 000 you get an extensive level of kit too, such as a touchscreen infotainment system, heated seats, an electrically folding third row of seats and plenty of electronic systems. It has such driver assistance aids as forward collision prevention, lane keeping assist and adaptive cruise control, but it is oversensitive, beeping warnings for everything. So much so it can become annoying and you switch off the surround sensors just for a bit of peace and quiet.
Quiet is not a word you typically associate with something featuring a massive V8 petrol engine, but this is no AMG. The engine cruises at a relatively low decibel level, but put your foot down and this 2 746kg machine can launch forward with a wave of power that can surprise you. It’s all normally aspirated so there’s no turbo boost.
Have a heavy right foot and the consumption indicator is going to rapidly exceed the claimed average of 14.4l/100km.
But don’t expect the fuel gauge to drop equally as rapidly. We barely used a quarter of a tank while we had the vehicle on test, but there’s a reason. The main fuel tank has a capacity of 100-litres but there’s a 40-litre auxiliary tank too. This is a luxury 4×4 designed to get you across the country before you need to fill up, but when you do, it’s going to cost you, a lot.
The Patrol features all the off-road toys you could possibly need. It has 272mm of ground clearance and approach and departure angles of 34.3° and 26.2° respectively. At its heart is a vehicle that wants to conquer every obstacle, wade through rivers and cross deserts.
However, in spite of all the ability and all the luxury, there is something about the Patrol that feels just a bit basic. It lags behind its rivals when it comes to the true luxury feel and the tech is also a little dated. If it is a city dweller then it is no match for the Range Rover or the Mercedes in the status stakes even with its massive presence, but the Patrol is not a vehicle to trap in the city environment.
Unlike many 4x4s, you don’t buy the Patrol to look like you go off-road, you buy the Patrol because you really do travel across fields, rivers and through the bush. And when you get there, you will fit right in at the luxury tented camp. – Mark Smyth
Fast Facts: Nissan Patrol 5.6 V8 LE Premium
Engine: 5 552cc V8
Power: 298kW at 5 800rpm
Torque: 560Nm at 4 000rpm
Transmission: seven-speed automatic
Top speed: 210km/h (claimed)
Fuel: 14.4l/100km (claimed)
CO2: 334g/km (claimed)
Price: From R1 299 000