Friday, June 28, 2019

The 2019 Nissan Patrol Royale is an Apartment-Sized SUV That's Rewarding to Drive


Priced at P 3,888,000, the Nissan Patrol is an SUV in a price bracket where it’s bought by people who won’t likely value the opinion of a motoring journalist. It caters to a segment of buyers who think: “I’ve got the money to buy you, your friends, and this club; and I know what I want.” But to the curious who would like to know how it drives and rides, it’s a beautiful, capable SUV the size of a SMDC apartment, but with the reflexes of an athlete.

The Patrol’s styling is regal and luxurious, emphasizing size rather than belittling it. The massive V-motion grille and trapezoidal headlights give it presence, while its slab-sided body dwarf what are already 20-inch wheels. The rear does the same as well, squaring things off to visually widen it even more.



And large it is. Measuring in at 5.165 meters in length and 2.235 meters in width including the mirrors, the Patrol barely fits into the standard Philippine parking space—taking up 11.54 square-meters of floor area compared to the standard’s 12.5 square-meters.

Climbing aboard confirms this with the Patrol’s wide seats (at least for the first two rows since the third was folded down during the entire journey), and general feeling of expansiveness. Talking to anyone else (including the front passenger) is like placing a long-distance phone call; there’s just so much space. The driver enjoys the usual cornucopia of adjustment afforded by a seat that move 8 ways electronically (with a memory function and ventilation to boot) and a tiller that does the same for both reach and height.



The interior design itself says it’s made for Sheiks since there’s enough plastic woodgrain to match the Business Class of an Emirates A380. Another nifty touch that suggests it’s made for the Middle East’s extremely hot weather is the placement of the second- and third row vents. Instead of placing them at the center of the ceiling, they’re all positioned by the generous glass area. This creates a curtain of cool air preventing the sun’s heat from barreling through the glass. The standard color scheme is black, but opting for the tan makes it look even better.

Despite the solid build, it’s starting to look dated with the massive number of buttons and controls dotting the interior. Thankfully, it’s easy enough to navigate once mastered since everything is clustered together by function. The gauges too, are absent of any fancy colored display, but remain easy to read and understand.



Now, the biggest question hovering over the Patrol is its performance, and not because of the usual reason. Its one and only rival, the Toyota Land Cruiser draws buyers with its “frugal” diesel-fed V8. And true enough, it can likely achieve double the Patrol’s fuel economy. However, with a P 600,000 price spread in favor of the Patrol, and taking into account the price of service, it’s the Nissan than wins out with a lower ownership cost up to 100,000 kilometers (check this story for the details).

With that out of the way, it’s time to tackle how the Patrol drives. With a direct-injected 5.6-liter V8 engine connected to a 7-speed automatic, it pushes out 400 horsepower and 560 Nm of torque—figures that make it the second most powerful vehicle next to the GT-R. Now, to better appreciate its performance consider this: its 0-100 km/h time is 6.6 seconds—just a second slower than the Civic Type R, and that’s for something that weighs 2,750 kilograms. Aurally, the entire drivetrain goes for quietness than outright bark, yet the characteristic V8 rumble fills the cabin even at half throttle and this can get quite addicting.



The biggest surprise of the Patrol though is now it conducts itself on the road. At lower speeds, the large glass area and light steering make it easy enough to drive around once adjusted for its gargantuan size (thank goodness for the 360-degree camera). In city confines, it feels pretty much like any standard large luxury SUV that ploughs through potholes using nothing more than its sheer weight and excellent NVH isolation. However, start pushing it around, and it actually pushes back. During spirited driving, it remains extremely stable and flat with none of the body lean you’ll expect from a rolling apartment.

Aside from its sophisticated Double Wishbone suspension at both ends, Nissan’s employed a magical system they call Hydraulic Body Motion Control or HBMC. It’s a simple yet clever system that doesn’t run on any computer. Instead, it uses hydraulic cylinders located at the shock absorbers to adjust roll stiffness by transferring fluid between left- and right sides. The system also activates during off-road driving. Whenever it senses that a wheel has dropped, it actually is able to add a greater amount of wheel travel.



When Nissan launched the first-generation Patrol in 1951, it was nothing more than a utilitarian off-roader. 68 years later, it continues the very same tradition, but now marries it with high levels of luxury and comfort. While the current generation, codenamed Y62 has been around for quite some time, now may be its time to shakeup the market. The Nissan Patrol (or Patrol Royale, if you want the official model designation) was happy simply to be at the fringes of success, now it’s ready to fight and pummel the competition into submission.

1 comment:

  1. Join us Nissan Patrol Club of the Philippines, facebook groups.

    ReplyDelete