18 August 2000



The last Patrol was a

capable vehicle in search

of a decent engine. The

new version gets just that,

says Mike Williams

THE new Nissan Patrol looks so similar to the old one that even dedicated 4×4 enthusiasts might have problems identifying which is which. But spend a few minutes in the drivers seat and its obvious which is the new version.

The big changes on the outside are a redesigned grille and bumper at the front and new paint colours – not quite enough to set the adrenaline flowing. The changes beneath the surface are more impressive and include an automatic transmission option, which is good news for those who dislike gearshifting.

Its the new engine which really puts the latest Patrol ahead of the old one. The 2.8 litre diesel introduced only two years ago makes way for a new 3 litre version, and this has a big impact on performance. Both engines have a turbo and intercooler plus electronic injection control, but thats where the similarities end.

Maximum output goes up from 130hp at 4000rpm to 158hp at 3600rpm for the new one, and the torque boost is even bigger, up from 252Nm to a beefy 354Nm, both at 2000rpm – a 40 per cent increase which should pay dividends off-road and for trailer work.

&#42 Sharper acceleration

One result of the extra power is sharper acceleration, taking the heavyweight Patrol from 0-62mph in 15.4 seconds, 3 seconds quicker than the previous model. Although this is not quite sports car performance, the new model feels much more lively than its sedate predecessor, but this should not increase the fuel bills. In fact, the official consumption figures show a small improvement. The new Patrol averaged 26.2mpg in the combined urban and open road test against 25.2mpg previously.

As well as providing extra horsepower, the big four cylinder diesel engine is also smooth and responsive, and it is easy to assume there are six cylinders under the bonnet. The combination of a smooth, powerful engine in a large, comfortable car can mean a relaxing performance for a long motorway drive, and this is certainly true of the new Patrol.

Comfort is helped by a control switch allowing the driver to tune the rear anti-roll bar electronically for on or off-road driving, and ride quality on the road is excellent. It is also a highly competent off-road performer, equipped with a rear diff lock plus a four-wheel drive system which can be engaged on the move at speeds up to 25mph.

&#42 Parking space

The one place where the Patrol is not at home is a crowded car park. Parking space dimensions are usually calculated on the basis of an "ordinary" car, and the five-door long-wheelbase Patrol is, in this respect, far from ordinary. It is 300mm (12in) longer than a Range Rover and needs a much bigger turning space, and it feels just clumsy in a car park full of Escorts and Fiestas.

Being big on the outside means plenty of room for five adults inside, and the top specification SE+ test car was also equipped with a third row of seats. This boosts the Patrols carrying capacity to seven, but the extra seats have limitations. Lack of leg room makes them unsuitable for adults – theres just nowhere to put your feet – and when the third row of seats are in use they occupy most of the luggage space. Even folded away – which is easy – they still fill a sizable chunk of the load area.

The SE+ Patrol comes with CD player, leather trimmed seats, a powered sun roof, headlamp wipers and a highly effective air conditioning unit which seemed likely to cause frostbite when working at full power.

Verdict: The new engine is a big improvement and makes the Patrol ideal for pulling a trailer, a long trip up the M1 or crossing the Sahara desert – but try to avoid car parks. With a £29,250 starting price for the lwb version, you get a lot of car and a lot of engine for the money.

Above: The new Patrol looks similar to the previous version; main improvement is under the bonnet.

Above right: A pair of boots and a small dog fill most of the luggage space when rearmost seats are in use.

When farming improves…

New small C-Class Mercedes, arriving September, comes with choice of 129,163,170 or 218hp petrol engines or 143 or 170hp diesels.

The car is packed with high-tech wizardry and clever touches and the diesel is smoother than many petrols. Prices yet to be announced.

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