What is it?
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 anyone in the UAE writes about the Patrol, the massive SUV will continue to sell in spades. People here just love it because it’s big, comfortable, reliable, and amazing off-road. As a result, this is probably one of the most pointless car reviews ever written. Still, when you’re offered a drive in a Patrol in top-spec V8 LE Platinum trim, you’re obviously going to say yes.
The model we have comes with a 400 bhp, 5.6-litre V8, many off-road functions and just about every modern luxury you can think of.
How does it drive?
We start, boringly, with a word on reliability. The model Nissan gave us had done over 50,000 km, but it still felt tight as a drum. This is despite it being a marketing mule for test drives and photo shoots – it had probably led a punishing life. Just before being delivered to us, this Patrol had done some hard time in the desert for some promotional material, but the only evidence that the car was getting on a bit was some slightly worn leather.
When it comes to the actual drive, at first, the Patrol is a little daunting thanks to its sheer size. If you’ve ever had one 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. 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.
Okay, 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.
Off course, the Patrol is also famed for its off-road ability. We didn’t get the chance to properly lash the Patrol across the desert, but we made time for a brief, off-piste jaunt and the car was unfazed by everything we 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.
Interior quality and tech
The interior is what we’d call ‘good enough’ for the price at which the Patrol sits. The design isn’t quite to our 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 actually useful tech.
The Patrol’s 360-degree parking camera is especially handy. It gives you a top-down view of the car on the infotainment screen, allowing you to see how it’s fitting into the space you’re trying to park in. It isn’t quite as good as the units found on top-spec Audis, Volkswagens and BMWs, but it does the job well enough. Elsewhere, there are leather seats, rear screens for the kids, adaptive cruise control, a great Bluetooth pairing system – the lot.
Plus, the size of the car means you can fit a lot of stuff in it. IKEA trips will never be the same.
As you can imagine, that big V8 is thirsty. The Patrol sports an enormous fuel tank (plus a reserve tank) meaning it’ll carry 140 litres of petrol. That means it’ll cost a lot to fill up. Happily, that same trait means that, actually, the Patrol V8 delivers a pretty good range. You should go 600 km to 700 km between fill-ups. Patrols also hold their value very well in this part of the world thanks to their being so reliable. As for insurance, you’re looking at about 7,500 for a good fully comprehensive policy.
The Nissan Patrol absolutely lives up to the hype. 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.