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Following in the footsteps of the new V8-powered, independent suspension in the Toyota LandCruiser, Nissan has revealed its seventh-generation Patrol in the Mid-East.
Drivetrain and equipment
The new Patrol is powered by a V8 – which will be the first in a Patrol for the Australian market -- a 5.6-litre direct-injection engine has 400 horsepower and 550Nm of torque while the new Patrol also features fully independent suspension rather than a live rear axle.
The Mid-East launch in Abu Dhabi presented a more luxurious and softer looking Patrol with more leather, polished aluminium and wood grain trim, a cool box in the centre console, multi-screen DVD entertainment system, seven-speed automatic transmission, more interior space especially in the second and third rows, a claimed quieter ride and a curtain of cold air over the windows to prevent heat from penetrating the cabin.
The new Patrol also has newly developed All Mode four-wheel drive which allows the driver to electronically switch between sand, on-road, snow and rock modes. It has Hill Start Assist to prevent the vehicle rolling back and Hill Descent Control that uses the brakes to maintain a constant downhill speed of 7km/h in 4H mode and 4km/h in 4L mode.
Patrol also features a Hydraulic Body Motion Control System to keeps it flatter with less body roll when cornering. Nissan has revised its tyre pressure monitor system with a tyre inflation indicator that beeps the horn softly when the suitable pressure has been reached. Patrol also gets a new hydraulic brake booster and four-piston opposed front calliper with larger 358mm front discs.
Patrol for Australia
Nissan Australia senior corporate communications manager Jeffrey Fisher points out that the Mid-East unveiling at the weekend was not a world launch and different configurations could be available here.
"They launched it with a V8 petrol engine because they are only interested in big petrol engines in the Mid-East, he says. "However, we will take it (the V8), because we see a role for it. It’s more frugal than previous versions.” He says Australia will likely continue with the option of a four-cylinder diesel engine.
Nissan has declared its intention to move toward small electric cars such as the Leaf, rather than hybrids. Fisher says Nissan has not mentioned anything about a hybrid version of the Patrol. "But never say never. The way the world is moving we should keep an open mind,” he says.
Fisher says the move to independent suspension would not reduce the hardcore off-road ability of the vehicle, however it is difficult to see its rock crawling abilities matching the current GU series. "Popular theory says that things with a live axle are better for rock hopping, but where were heading with this (independent suspension) is that we think it is a good blend with the ladder suspension, he says.
"The expectation is that it is every bit as good and will match the current Patrol in off-road ability, however we don’t have the ramp-over angles and details yet, so we can’t tell. Nissan claims only about 15 per cent of Patrol owners worldwide take their vehicle off road.
"Anecdotal evidence is that it is higher in Australia, but probably not much," says Fisher. The new Patrol is not expected to arrive in Australia this year. "Its still some ways off. Not this year,” says Fisher.
"We are into a launch countdown but it won't be this year. We are still awaiting right-hand-drive production dates and spec advice. "GU is the current model designation, but we’re not sure what the next model designation will be. They are calling it P61G, but that may change.”
Large SUV sales last year were down by almost a third, but Fisher says there is still room for large and capable off-road vehicles in Australia.
"Patrol is iconic and we would argue that it is one of the vehicles that has created a reputation for Nissan here, he says.
Patrol was the first vehicle to successfully cross the gruelling Simpson Desert in Australia in 1962."When a lot of Australians think of a Nissan, they think of Patrol. "It is a backbone in Australia for large 4WD wagons. Definitely something we want to continue.
"Sales have retracted a bit. In its heyday in the early 90s we were looking at 800 a month and we are about half of that now. But (Land)Cruiser 200 is back on the scene and doing well reviving their fortunes and we think that when new Patrol comes along we will help grow the whole sector.