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Tough, Capable, Cheap, And Ugly
Chavs In Cute-Utes, Soft-Roaders Need Not Apply
Does Nissan Pay The U.N. For All That Prime-Time TV?
If you are a dedicated follower of fashion who drives the kids to school in a Chelsea tractor, otherwise known as a cute-ute or soft-roader 4x4, the Nissan Patrol is not for you.
Chavs touring the shopping malls had better stick with their Toyota Rav4s, Honda CR-Vs, Land Rover Freelanders, or Nissan X-Trails. Upmarket types will be happy with their BMW X5s, Volvo XC90s, Lexus RX300s, VW Touaregs and Porsche Cayennes.
But if you are a huntin and a fishin kind of guy, if you live in a village where mud is a fact of life for 6 months of the year, or if you want to buy a go-anywhere vehicle that will never die, and you dont care if it looks like a World War II er Nissan hut, the updated Nissan Patrol might be the wheels for you.
Weve all seen the TV newsreels of scenes in Iraq, the Sudan, or some other godforsaken hell hole in the third world where there are no roads to speak of, and no garages. Towards the cameras, along an unmade road, comes a convoy of no-nonsense-looking vehicles in a cloud of dust. They may be filled with a UN delegation, or Islamist gun-toting nutters, but they always seem to use only one type of vehicle, and thats a white Nissan Patrol.
Have you ever seen a Nissan Patrol broken down by the side of the road, with puzzled looking locals scratching their heads as they peak under the bonnet? No. It doesnt happen.
Because of its hewn-from-the-metal reputation, the Nissan Patrol seems to have been the vehicle of choice for the U.N. for almost all of its 40-year life (the Patrols that is). Nissan is keen to cash in on its muscular reputation, but its latest version is all about creature comforts, as well as more power and torque.
The looks have been tarted up, with a more streamlined front bumper and deeply recessed fog-lights and new body panels. Inside, a new curvy, modern looking dashboard with switchgear borrowed from the Nissan X-Trail, itself a definite cute-ute, and the 350Z two-seater sports car.
There is an uprated 3.0 litre diesel engine, and the Patrol retains high and low ratio four-wheel drive and its unique disconnectable rear stabiliser bar to give even more axle articulation in really rough terrain.
Driving the Patrol over the rugged Forestry Commission roads near Scarborough in Yorkshire, demonstrated the Patrols ability to go almost anywhere.
The creature comforts are definitely from the western world, with air conditioning standard, electric windows all round and a CD player. The S version has anti-lock brakes, twin airbags. An electrically adjustable alarm and heated door mirrors, all for £24,500 (34,700 euros).
The SVE version adds bigger wheels, side airbags, temperature gauge and compass, electrically adjustable and heated front seats, electronic climate control, electric glass sunroof and headlight washers, plus DVD SatNav all for £29,900 (42,400 euros). An automatic gearbox raises the price to £31,400 (44,500 euros). This is terrific value. A similarly equipped Land Rover Discovery would probably cost close to £40,000 (56,700 euros).
If a serious off-roader is not for you, Nissan has an impressive group of alternatives, including the fabulous looking new Murano, the non-descript Terrano and Pathfinder. But dont expect to seen any of these on prime-time newsreels.
Neil Winton January 5, 2005
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