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Series 4 Patrol: Your guide to the Nissan 4WD

The GU Patrol was introduced in 1997 and lasted right through until 2016.

Nissan’s GU (Y61) Patrol was on sale for an awfully long time even by the lengthy standards of four-wheel-drives which are generally renewed far less frequently than passenger cars. Even so, the GU’s innings from 1997 to 2016 when it was finally pensioned off, saw it live on past even the model that was supposed to supersede it (the Y62).

The launch of the Y62 in 2013 saw the new Patrol available only in petrol V8 form; something that just wouldn’t do for the Patrol faithful Down Under. So Nissan dusted off the Y61 for a final time and continued it on as the GU with the ZD30 turbo-diesel engine, selling it alongside the new Y62.

It was able to get away with this because the GU had so completely proven itself over the years that it wasn’t much of a marketing risk. Diesel GU sales would hardly eat into petrol Y62 sales, so why not have a foot in each camp? Why not indeed. But what made the GU such a mighty proposition in the first place that Nissan would allow it to share showroom space with its all-new baby?

The Series 4 GU Petrol had the majority of its exterior panels were tweaked. The Series 4 GU Petrol had the majority of its exterior panels were tweaked.

It started with the basics. Even though the GU bult on the GQ model’s basic architecture, that was seen as a good thing. The coil sprung chassis with a three-link set up at the front and a five-link rear end was tough, reliable and boasted great bush-ability. The separate body on top was an old-school way of constructing a vehicle, but when it came to full-sized off-roaders, the concept was still considered the best solution. Mechanically, the GU package was utterly resolved, too, with sold diesel and petrol options.

Of course, by 2004, the GU had been on sale for a full seven years (not far short of the average total lifespan of most models) so it was well and truly due a facelift. And that facelift involved some solid improvements to the vehicle and enough of a freshen up to not only improve its abilities on and off road, but also to make it look and feel a bit more modern. It was the birthday the Patrol needed, and that facelift model was called the Series 4 GU Petrol. But what made the Series 4 better?

Firstly, there was a new look. The majority of the exterior panels were, in fact, tweaked, but you’d have to be eagle-eyed to spot many of the differences. More obvious were the new front and rear bumpers, new bonnet with its power-bulge and new headlights. Inside, the seating was revised and a new centre console was joined by a new dashboard moulding and a freshened-up instrument display. Equally importantly, Nissan paid a lot of attention to sound-proofing and making improvements to overall NVH levels.

Under the bonnet, the GU Series 4 used carry-over engines, but engines that had already been substantially improved upon over the line-up that the GU originally launched with in 1997. The six-cylinder petrol had been updated a couple of years earlier for more capacity (4.8 litres) and more power and torque 185kW and 420Nm. The 4.2-litre turbo-diesel six had been treated, just the year before, to an intercooler with power staying at the same 114kW but torque jumping 30Nm to 360.

Selling alongside the 4.2 turbo-diesel was the four-cylinder turbo-diesel of three litres code-named ZD30. For the Series 4 Patrol, it was upgraded with a new injector-pump arrangement, different injectors and a larger exhaust., Power went up to 118kW and torque to 380Nm but only if you bought a manual. The automatic ZD30 combo was pegged at 354Nm in the interests of transmission longevity. Speaking of auto transmissions, the ZD30 scored a four-speed unit (or five-speed manual) the petrol six was a five-speed auto or manual and the 4.2 diesel was a five-speed manual or nothing.

The GU Series 4 featured a 4.2-litre turbo-diesel six making 114kW/360Nm. The GU Series 4 featured a 4.2-litre turbo-diesel six making 114kW/360Nm.

While all Series 4 GUs had a standard limited-slip rear diff, the Ti flagship version also had a vacuum-operated rear locker. And they were all serious off-roaders with the DX having manual-locking front hubs, auto hubs on all other versions and Nissan’s tried and proven part-time four-wheel-drive system with a transfer-case for low ratios.

In terms of trim levels, the Series 4 GU had something for everyone. The entry-level car was the DX which addressed safety with just a single air-bag (for the driver) and that didn’t change with the addition of a passenger’s air-bag until 2006. The next-step-up ST got a standard passenger’s air-bag from day one and the ST-S and ST-L got anti-lock brakes as standard. So did the Ti, the top-shelf model also getting side air-bags.

Building on the legacy of the GU (and the GQ before it) the Series 4 GU was an immediate hit with buyers who were keen to use it off road and make the most of its awesome abilities. The petrol six was also a huge favourite with boaties and caravanners who put up with the mighty thirst of the thing for the monster towing potential that engine offered.

Nissan upgraded the GU once again in 2007 to arrive at the Series 5, but the basic concept was so good, it still had almost a decade left in it. 

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