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Patrol Diesel delivers the goods
  |  First Published: July 2005



Earlier this year I reported on the new model Nissan Patrol, powered by a 4.8L petrol engine. Being a bit of a diesel diehard, I wondered how the new vehicle would perform in its 3L diesel guise. I made some enquiries and was given the opportunity to review a white Patrol in ST trim level, powered by a 3L inter-cooled turbo diesel. Once again, I have given full marks to what is a very easy-to-drive off roader.

The Patrol is a full sized 7-seater. Nissan make no apologies for the size of the beast; after all it is their flagship. There are now five different models to choose from in the new Patrol line up: the DX base model with vinyl trim/skinny wheels (but still featuring air-conditioning, central locking and limited slip diff); the ST plus its two derivatives which offer extra features; and the Ti with leather trim and a list of goodies as long as your arm.

The standard ST offers the owner a lot of features for their money and is still quite an upmarket vehicle. Interestingly, it’s only available with a diesel engine, so the buyer can opt for the 4.2L or 3L inter-cooled turbo to do the hard yards. Features abound: there’s limited slip diff; driver and passenger front airbags; air conditioning; CD/Radio; an engine immobiliser and keyless entry. Carpeted floors, special Moquette trim, side steps, alloy wheels and auto locking hubs are all there as well. The new model also has colour co-ordinated bumpers and guards.

Diesel vehicles are something you either like or don’t like but it is significant that an awful lot of diesel owners buy another one in due course. Certainly, diesel fuel isn’t as cheap compared to unleaded petrol as it once was, but the fuel consumption is just so much better. Economy in the order of 10-12L per 100km is standard for the 3L engine, in auto or manual form.

This is a powerful but quite frugal engine given the fuel economy figures returned by other similar sized four-wheel drive vehicles in the Patrol’s category. In its manual form, as tested, the 3L engine has even had a little power boost. Nissan quote figures of 380Nm of torque in the manual version as opposed to the 364Nm of torque available in the four-speed auto. To be frank, I do feel that most people will hardly notice the increase when at the wheel, but it’s there just the same.

TEST DRIVE

On the road the manual Patrol diesel was surprisingly easy to drive for what is essentially a large vehicle. I found the gear change was light yet quite precise, and the clutch, thanks to hydraulic assistance, was as light as a feather.

Steering was equally easy thanks to power assistance and with a high driving position, visibility in all directions was quite good. This new model Patrol has larger side mirrors, which is a step in the right direction as large four-wheel-drive vehicles do have blind spots at their sides that can make small vehicles quite difficult to detect. The new wider mirrors of the Patrol will help the driver notice them a lot more easily. That said, a small ‘blind spot’ mirror set up in the bottom corner of the standard side mirror is a very useful item and well worth the couple of dollars it will cost.

During testing, I took the time to give the manual 3L Patrol wagon my standard towing test. Having pulled out all the stumps at my place with the 4.8 back in January, I was content to tow the boat with the 3L. The Patrol made easy work of towing my 5.5m GaleForce centre console on its solid Dunbier trailer. After a day out on the water, we returned to find the shiny, white Patrol waiting for us. With the boat secured on the trailer, the wagon made an easy job of hauling the boat up the ramp; it wasn’t even necessary to engage four-wheel drive with that second stubby lever on the gear change console.

At idle, you can hear the engine ticking over quite easily. In the lower rev range it is a little quieter, but from around 1800rpm onwards it can hardly be heard at all. And it is very willing, with heaps of mid-range power for overtaking thanks to the turbo charger with its inter-cooled air supply. At 110km/h and around 2,500rpm, about the only sound is that of the breeze whistling past the door seals. And on the subject of door seals, the Patrol is one wagon that does not leak dust when used after the bitumen has ended.

I found the ride in the 3L diesel-powered Patrol was every bit as good as the one I experienced in the big 4.8 petrol auto earlier this year. Coil springs are combined with stabilizers all round, which makes for excellent handling as well as ride and there are plenty of creature comforts for passengers as well. Nissan’s heritage of making no-fuss but functional off road vehicles that work just as well on the road shines through in their ST 3L 7-seater diesel Patrol.

The 3L ST Diesel Patrol is priced at around $51,990 plus dealer delivery and on-road costs.

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