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Nissan Patrol is here to conquer the world

It may be just over a year from arriving at a showroom near you, but to wet our appetites Nissan has given motoring media a special preview drive of the all-new 2012 Y62 Nissan Patrol.

Report by themotorreport.com.au
Also known by Nissan’s internal code, P61G, the Y62 Patrol is worlds apart from the Y61 Patrol workhorse that’s currently on sale.

It’s bigger, heavier, and packed with an astonishing array of technology. It’s also propelled by an immensely grunty 5,6 litre petrol V8, and takes drive to all four wheels via a seven-speed automatic (a first for its class) and dual-range transfer case.

With sat-nav, radar-assisted cru-ise control, lane departure warning, around-view cameras, three DVD video screens (two in each headrest) and a bevy of other mod-cons, the Y62 Patrol boasts enough gadgets to rival not only the Toyota Landcruiser LC200, but fancier machinery like the Range Rover Sport and Lexus LX 570.

Interior quality is superb. Soft leather adorns the seats, steering wheel and doorcards, and high-grade plastics are used throughout. There’s also an unshakeable feeling of solidity, with not a single piece of rattling trim to be heard. Suspension technology has undergone some radical changes as well.

Live axles have been ditched in favour of double-wishbone suspension, and although there’s a mechanically locking rear differential, the bulk of the Y62’s off-road traction comes from a brake-based pseudo LSD setup.

The system works by braking individual wheels that have little to no traction, directing drive to the wheels that still have grip.

Another feature that aids off-road progress is the Hydraulic Body Motion Control (HBMC) system, which deletes the traditional stabiliser bars and instead uses a hydraulic coupling to reduce body roll, or, in off road situations, dramatically improve wheel articulation.

It works a treat. On an off-road test track of moderate difficulty, the Patrol barely broke a sweat ascending a steep, rocky uphill section, with deep ruts and cocked wheels failing to slow the big wagon’s progress.

The 5,6 litre direct-injected V8 has ample power to lug the 2 785kg Patrol up the steepest slopes. With 298kW and 550Nm of torque, it had no issue climbing steep grades in high-range.

The seven-speed gearbox shifts smoothly and decisively, and always selected the right ratio without driver intervention. Most impressive though, is the incredible sense of isolation from the outside environment. Even when driving off-road, the loudest noise is the sound of air rushing through the vents.

At work, the engine is a distant muted hum, and even over gravel road noise is barely inaudible.

Overall refinement is excellent, the power and drivetrain faultless and its off-road abilities without question, but the greatest handicap is the Y62 Patrol’s gargantuan size.

It’s bigger in every dimension than the Landcruiser LC200, and there were some extremely tight moments during our brief off-road sojourn in the Patrol.
For towing boats or horsefloats, the Patrol would be ideal (what better way to make use of its 3,5 tonne tow capacity). For serious off-roaders, it’s probably a size too big — despite its eye-wideningly impressive capabilities.

On the road, however, it seems to shrink. The performance offered by that big V8 means it gathers speed with tremendous ease, and the HBMC system allows it to corner very flatly.

The 20-inch wheels fitted to the Patrol we drove certainly looked miniscule in comparison to the rest of the car, but the slightly lower-profile rubber fitted to them made the Patrol more car-like on the tarmac.

The Y62 Nissan Patrol is without doubt an incredible vehicle, but for now perhaps the greatest issue facing it is what price it will launch with.

Nissan Australia says there’s an opportunity to offer a lower-cost vehicle by deleting a few in-cabin luxuries and swapping the HBMC system for a conventional suspension setup, but don’t expect the price tag to give you much change from US$85 000.

As for the car we drove, which is representative of a range-topping Patrol Ti model, it would not be unreasonable to assume that it could retail from the US$120 000-US$130 000 mark — a touch above the top-shelf Toyota LandCruiser Sahara. Nissan says the new Patrol will launch without a diesel option, with the sole engine choice to be the 5,6 litre petrol V8.

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