We all know it, the Nissan Patrol is a head turner just on account of its physical size and the unconscious yet uncanny comparison onlookers make to the venerable Toyota Land Cruiser. Yes, the two go head to head in many markets and in Uganda, the Land Cruiser’s citizenship credentials has eclipsed the Patrol’s efforts at the immigration office. Not all is lost though. Does the Patrol have what it takes to get credible mindshare among Ugandans? Oh yes it does.
As one of the longest-surviving nameplate in the Nissan line-up, the Patrol traces its roots to an earlier era when sport-utility vehicles were judged for their off-road credentials above all else. The ‘latest’ Patrol, codename Y62, has been around since 2010. And it is still a proper off-roader at heart, albeit one festooned with much luxury and faux wood trim. It can trace it roots back to the early 50’s with the original Patrol launched in 1951, sold exclusively in Japan and used mainly by its military.
From those early days, the Patrol has morphed through six generations bearing several name plates based on the market. It has gotten bigger, more luxurious and, naturally, more expensive. Through it all, however, this iconic Patrol has maintained the constants of excellent off-road ability and a reputation for reliability and durability.
Looking at the car, you can easily see Nissan’s efforts to make the Patrol more civilian. While the old model had rough edges that made it look out of place in a parking lot with its peers, specifically the land Cruiser, the fresh Patrol has no problem fitting in. The very conspicuous front grille lines not only give the impression of brute force, but also connect the Patrol to its family tree.
Then there is the high bonnet that draws attention to the onlooker. With no character lines flowing from front to end, the rear has a bubble-like outline with rear LED lights. This car’s imposing exterior is quite polarising the first time you look at it but eventually grows on many with a few maintaining their dislike positions.
While the Patrol’s main competitor, the Toyota Land Cruiser, comes with an edgier interior design, here the approach is warmer. You feel that this is a place for the entire family. The shapes are rounded and, even though this is not the most sophisticated cabin, the styling is relaxing. There is acres of space wherever you sit (even in the third row, which can take three people) and the seats are wide and soft.
The dashboard is packed with buttons and, while they all work and will no doubt continue to for decades to come, there is just no escaping the fact they, and the infotainment system, looks like it belongs in a car from 15 years ago.
This is a supremely comfortable car and that is exactly what Nissan were going for. The Patrol is quite pleasantly and surprisingly quiet. When stationary, it is genuinely hard to tell if the engine is running without checking the tachometer (that other dial next to the speedometer). Even when moving, it will only make its presence known when you accelerate.
Under the hood, you will definitely find a sturdy power plant to move this monstrous car, so getting right into the “boring stuff”, most Nissan Patrols from this generation have a 5.6L V8 engine but a smaller 4L V6 exists as well. The former produces 400 horsepower while the smaller engine brings to the table 275 horses.
Acceleration is responsive and beautiful with power sent through a seven-speed automatic transmission. Fuel consumption is a pain point all Patrol drivers outside the Middle East have. Officially placed at an average of 15L per 100kms, typical town driving significantly pushes that number up.
Also, the car’s size makes driving around smaller roads and parked Kampala roads a pain with zero chance of avoiding scratches you notice days later. The patrol being a big car cannot be pushed around corners without restraint, as physics shall dictate body roll.
In terms of safety, you will most definitely get what you come to expect with a premium car including antilock disc brakes with brake assist, stability control, front and second-row side airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags, full-length side curtain airbags (with rollover detection) and active front head restraints.
The optional advanced seatbelt system will tighten the front seatbelts when the brakes are suddenly applied or when tyre slippage is detected by the stability control system.
In Uganda, the Patrol has for a long time been in the Land Cruiser’s shadow. In an objective comparison, the value for money goes to the Patrol with its over the top extras power and equipment. It is a great premium SUV. It drives better than ever on the road, is comfortable and well equipped, and has enough off-road capability for most people. However, the mindshare credentials the Land cruiser has with higher resale value makes the Patrol only have extremely specific buyers who know exactly what they want.