Nissan’s four cylinder, 3L diesel GU Patrol has been around for well over a decade and is still as impressive as it was back in 1997 when it was released. Back then, the GU Patrol charmed the socks off buyers with its new streamlined looks and surprising agility for such a large seven seat vehicle.
Apart from some design changes to the interior and exterior, the current crop of Series 7 GU Patrols don’t have a lot that is new – why fix what’s not broken? Nissan have tried not to change what has been tried, tested and loved by so many Patrol owners.
Along the way the ST-L version of the Patrol has been dropped and these days the Patrol buyer has the choice of the ST or top of range Ti.
The ST has been blessed with some of the goodies of the ST-L; a surprisingly high level of fit and finish all round but retaining cloth trimmed seats and subdued trim levels. Squeaks and rattles are non existent but the doors are somewhat hard to close with all the windows up, which is forgivable considering its excellent dust seals.
For 2011 the big wagon features air-conditioning to the rear compartment, fog lights up front, ABS, a six stacker CD player to compliment the radio (which is perhaps not as good as some I’ve experienced in a modern vehicle) and an iPod and Blue Tooth connectivity as additional fruit.
Cruise control is now thankfully part of the ST package having carried through from the ST-L.
Storage within the Patrol consists of strong and large door pockets, a deep centre console, seat back pockets plus dash recesses. Drink holders are built into the rear drop down arm rest
Overall, the Series 7 GU Patrol is a pretty well put together vehicle with a lot of room, considerable comfort and serious off road work that has always been a strength of the Patrol. Its forté is long journeys and it’s on these trips that the wide and softly padded but supportive seats really shine.
Coil springs all round and soft suspension settings keep occupants insulated from what’s going on under the cabin. It takes a lot of impact out of uneven surfaces, and the live axles and impressive rates of wheel articulation do a really good job of keeping the rubber to the road or, as is of often the case, just the ground.
The Patrol’s diesel engine remains the proven 3L four-cylinder intercooled turbo diesel. The unit was enhanced with a common rail fuel system several years ago and for a ‘small’ engine with a 118kW output, 354Nm of torque (there’s slightly reduced torque to engines fitted to four speed autos) it did a very good job of hauling around 2447kg curb weight of car plus passengers.
The engine rattles a bit at idle, it is not the smoothest diesel in today’s market, but it does a good job none the less. At highway speeds the rattle changes to a deep hum and the vehicle I drove, a four speed auto, was remarkably agile for such a big unit. Steering was light and direct, braking very efficient and it felt as though I was driving an SUV not a seriously efficient off roader.
Fuel consumption for the four speed auto is rated at 11.8L per 100km and I averaged 12.2L per 100km for a mix of city work and long distance touring. Fuel capacity is 95L main tank and 30L sub tank, which gives a possible touring range of over 1000km.
Moving off with other traffic at the lights during city driving was a piece of cake. In the off road situation with low range engaged, the tremendous low rev torque of the engine really shone through.
The big Patrol is a thoroughly comfortable vehicle all round. The ride is supple yet smooth on formed roads, and surprisingly liveable when off road. Middle row passengers within the seven seater enjoy ample padding, however the centre sitter only has a lap style seat belt. Passengers using the rear cargo area seats – and these are large enough for adults, not just children – are also well catered for once seated. Climbing in is a bit of an adventure as one of the rear 50/50 split fold rear seats must be lowered first.
The Patrol offers campers and fishers plenty of space for that all important gear. With the rear cargo area seats lifted up there’s almost 700L of cargo area available. You can even remove the seats entirely so the cargo area with middle seats folded down is enhanced to 2287L. The 50/50 split fold capability of the middle seats also allows longer items to be stowed.
The Patrol’s so called barn door set up at the rear has been there since 1997 and Nissan have seen no need to change it. It works fine; opening fully wide for storage of larger items or with just the left hand door in use for smaller items.
The Nissan Patrol ST diesel might be old but it’s still good when we look at the comparatively modest dollar outlay in comparison to rivals with the same off road capability. There are more refined diesel off roaders available today but at far greater cost.
The wagon’s forté is long highway stints, gravel roads and travel on no roads at all. Not a bad effort from an old timer. The reviewed Patrol came with the Nissan bull bar/driving light kit that made driving on country roads a much more enjoyable prospect.
Cost for the ST diesel four speed auto is around the $57,990 mark.Reads: 6427