Ah, the Nissan Patrol, a staple on the UAE’s roads.
Yep. In all honesty, this is probably one of the most pointless car reviews ever written. The Nissan Patrol is one of the UAE’s best-selling vehicles, and has the respect and admiration of pretty much every car lover in the country. Whatever any UAE-based motoring journalist writes about the Patrol, it’ll continue to sell in spades. People here just love it.
Yeah, but is it as good as everyone makes it out to be?
Oh, absolutely. What you have here is a whole lot of car for a surprisingly small amount of money. Okay, you can spend well over AED 200,000 on your Patrol, but it’s a seriously well sorted piece of kit – both from a luxury and engineering point of view.
Talk us through the one you’ve tested.
What we have here is the Patrol LE Platinum – essentially the top-of-the-range model (barring the mad Patrol Nismo). It comes with a 400 bhp, 5.6-litre V8, many off-road functions and just about every modern luxury you can think of. There are leather seats, a fabulous, 360-degree parking camera (more on that later), rear screens for the kids, adaptive cruise control, a great Bluetooth pairing system – the lot. Oh, and this particular model had done over 55,000 kilometres.
And did it feel it?
Nope. The car felt brand new. This is despite it being a marketing mule for test drives and photo shoots – it’s probably led a punishing life so far. Just before being delivered to me, this Patrol had done some hard time in the desert for some promotional material, and despite all of this, it felt tight as a drum. The only evidence that the car was getting on a bit was some slightly worn leather.
Lots of people will never take their Patrols off-road, so how’s its on-the-road manners?
Well, at first, it’s a little daunting to drive, thanks to its sheer size. If you’ve ever had a Patrol tailgating you on Sheikh Zayed Road, you’ll know how big this SUV seems from the outside. And it feels just as big from within. With a width of just under two metres and a length of well over five metres, even on the UAE’s superhighways, you’ll often find yourself taking up most of a lane. Meanwhile, threading through car parks is a tooth-grinding, sweat-inducing experience as you become hyper-aware of the car’s extremities – all of which are very far away from the driver’s seat.
But despite these drawbacks, the fact that the Patrol is something of a tank makes it pretty enjoyable to drive in general. Going back to the sheer size, you may be taking up the whole of a highway lane, but no-one’s going to tailgate you, or cut in front, or undertake, or show you anything other than the utmost respect. It’s also extremely good fun peering down on full-fat Range Rovers and Jeep Grand Cherokees and marvelling at how quaint they seem.
What’s more, with this engine, the Patrol isn’t slow. Nissan claims that it’ll do 0-100 km/h in 6.6 seconds – hot-hatch fast. This feels hilarious when you really gun it. The engine erupts a distant but well-formed rumble, and suddenly you’re hurtling this great mass towards the horizon, and, if you so please, a top speed of 210 km/h. Not bad for a 3.4-tonne beast.
It’s probably not wise to drive this thing fast, though, right?
Well, you won’t be going to any track days in the Patrol, but it feels perfectly safe to deploy all of its power to exploit an overtaking gap. The brakes are punchy and responsive, and the steering is both light and direct. Couple this with the near-perfect ride quality and the quietness of the cabin, and you have one of the most relaxing cars to drive on the market. Small wonder, given how reliable it is, the Patrol is such a big seller in this region.
But do the positives outweigh the negatives?
Pretty much. The only main criticism is that, because the Patrol is such a big car, it’s difficult to park if you live in an apartment. If you live in a villa, you should have plenty of space to park your car anyway, and even if you don’t, the Patrol’s 360-degree parking camera is especially handy. It isn’t quite as good as the units found on the Audi A4 or Volkswagen Tiguan, but it does the job well enough. And apart from the size issue, there really isn’t much to criticise the Patrol over.
How’s the interior quality?
Good enough. The design isn’t quite to my liking, but that’s subjective. And while the materials and build quality may not be up to German standards, you get the impression that Nissan wanted to make the Patrol as comfortable as possible without jacking up the price. Instead, your money goes on properly good engineering and a decent interior.
I’m guessing you’re talking about the off-road stuff when it comes to engineering?
Indeed. I didn’t get the chance to properly lash the Patrol across the desert, but I made time for a brief, off-piste jaunt and the car was unfazed by everything I threw at it. Slightly soft sand is no bother whatsoever, and large rocks are dealt with gingerly but largely hassle-free. There’s an off-road selector, like you get in a Range Rover, but 90% of the time, the standard 4×4 system is more than adequate when you’re on most types of sand. The suspension, tyres, ground clearance and power combine to make the Patrol a properly well sorted adventure vehicle even without the other off-road functions. Again, given all this, it’s little surprise that the Patrol is such a big seller here.
So the Patrol lives up to the hype?
Yep. If you’ve got a family that you want to move about in comfort and safety, off-road and on, but you don’t want to break the bank with purchase and running costs, you’ll have a hard time finding something more suitable than the Patrol. It may be an obvious choice, but it’s an obvious choice for a reason.
NISSAN PATROL LE PLATINUM SPECS:
Engine: 5.6-litre V8
Gearbox: 7-speed automatic
Power: 400 bhp
0-100 km/h: 6.6 s
Top speed: 210 km/h
Price (starting): AED 179,000
Price (as tested): AED 299,000
Dealer: Arabian Automobiles
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