If there is a car that has ever been made with Ugandan roads in mind, then that is definitely the 2013 Nissan Patrol Y62. Peter Mutimba got behind the wheel of this luxury car and shares his insights.
Here I am, sitting behind the wheel of a very luxurious 2013 Nissan Patrol Y62. I freeze for a second as I think about the price tag on this car: $154,000 (Shs380m).
I am about to test an almost Shs400m car on roads where the phrase; anything can happen, should be taken very seriously.
Maybe this isn’t such a good idea, I muse. But then, that stop start button is blinking at me hypnotically and I can’t resist.
The engine comes to life and it all sounds like an orchestra. It is then that it hits me: This has got to be the best darned job in the world.
Here is an SUV that is supposed to work well on the road, tear it up on the off road, stand tall among the luxurious crowd and do it with lots of power. A tall order I must say. So have they pulled it off? Well lets us find out.
The top of the range model we tested comes with a 5.6 litre V8 engine. There is 400 horsepower waiting to be unleashed.
Honestly, it makes no difference that this car weighs 3450Kg. That is still a mind bending amount of power at your disposal.
This, and by a mile, is the most powerful car I have driven so far, and yet the way it pulls forward is very civilised, even a bit disorienting. You will look at the speedometre and find it hard to believe what you are seeing.
Maybe it is the sound proof doors or the quiet engine, but it will make you think you are doing 50kph yet it is actually 120. And the acceleration is a bit intoxicating.
Overtaking is a laugh. It requires great levels of restraint not to do it over and again because it is fun.
I suppose it is also a good thing this only comes with a seven speed automatic gearbox, otherwise it would be nearly impossible to know when to change gears.
It is that quiet. This is the bit that impresses me most about this engine. It doesn’t shout about what it is going to do. The power just sneaks up on you and kicks you in the backside.
I can understand where the almost Shs400m went. It is a dream. It is luxurious in every sense of the word. I think the Mercedes S class coughed on the Patrol’s food and gave it “luxury-itis”.
Leather seats, wooden trim wherever you look, so many buttons that do lots of things, a sun roof, TV screens on the head rests for the passengers in the back, and a banging Bose sound system that turns your car into a mobile disco.
And then there is the space. It is shriekingly obvious that his car is massive. It seats seven passengers in considerable comfort and elbow-room.
It comes with airbags at the front, parking assist that features cameras at the back and on the side mirrors, warning systems that tell you when your seatbelts are not buckled, and a map on the rear view mirror which tells you which direction you are taking.
Then you get anti-lock brakes, a hill start assist and something called vehicle dynamic control which I will now attempt to explain.
The VDC system learns your usual driving habits and stores them. The system keeps checking to see if the car is following the orders of the driver.
In the instance that you get to a slippery point or turn a corner too fast and begin to lose control, this system takes over, applying the brakes on each wheel to keep the vehicle on course.
And all this happens instantly. Brilliant! Now does anyone still doubt that machines will take over the world and enslave the human race one day?
Handling and the ride
It may be the size of an ark, but it doesn’t move around like one. The steering wheel is responsive in an almost intuitive way.
I should take this chance to warn you that it is not to be approached with aggression or gusto. A light touch gets you exactly where you want to go.
There is more. Big heavy high riding cars are not supposed to be sprightly and light on their feet, so I approached the first corner with a certain level of trepidation. Frankly I needn’t have worried.
The Patrol has an advanced suspension system of the kind you will find in rally cars. Nissan calls it hydraulic body motion control.
It dramatically reduces body roll and makes for comfortable riding on a typically Ugandan potholed road.
It soaks up whatever the road throws at you while keeping the car flat riding.
This will come in handy when you are properly off road or in a bush.
I suspect though, that after dishing out that kind of money, off road is the last place you will want to take your car.
This brings me to the 4WD system
It has an electronic, all-mode 4X4 system.
In auto mode for example, the car is will always engage the 4WD once it senses wheel spin. You will not even realise it is happening.
This will probably cost you a bit more fuel, but I imagine if you can buy this car, an extra litre of fuel isn’t going to keep you awake at night.
There are four terrain options available: Sand, Snow, Rock and On-road at the touch of a button.
Snow for us will be substituted for mud. And since snow is much more slippery than mud, you are in good hands.
What I didn’t like
The Patrol is not going to win any beauty contests. It is not particularly good looking or attractive on the outside.
The monstrous size is also going to make parking in the city a bit of a nightmare and at Shs400m it is quite expensive by any standards.
But what you are paying for is obvious: A big, bold, on and off-road car.
An insanely luxurious interior, an intimidating, powerful engine that will get you to Masindi in under three hours, and a car so big and stately, the boda bodas will stay away from you.
But most of all, you are making a statement.