Nissan Patrol V6

Less than 8

"Could a V6 really beat a V8?" said Hisham.

"The gear ratios are shorter so the torque is always available."

"The BOSE sound system gives out a great acoustic quality, and on the high-resolution touchscreen everything is clear and the colors are vivid and lucid."

"100 kg were lost, of which 69 of them came from the engine alone with two missing cylinders."

When I heard that Nissan installed a V6 instead of a V8 in their new Patrol I was a bit concerned because a car that weighs 2 tons needs every single horsepower to pull it through country roads and help it overcome tricky situations - so it could still carry on the unbeatable Patrol legacy.

Combining excellent off-road capabilities and complete comfort and practicality for long journeys makes the car desirable in a lot of ways. I had already test driven the V8 engine in Dubai some time ago, blasting through sand dunes and conquering the desert in a civilized monster surrounded by leather and fancy trims. It made it look almost effortless.

My trip began when I arrived to Muscat airport and there, waiting for us, was a Nissan Patrol NISMO to take us to Jabal Akhdar where the whole experience would take place. It's a two and a half hour drive, so I had plenty of time to get familiar with the SUV. The NISMO looks very aggressive from the front and rear with the extended spoilers and red insertions that spread out in the bumpers and the air inlets. From the inside you find leather all over the cabin (alcantara), and high-end dark wood makes the interior seem special and expensive. I must say though, that too many materials were used to complete the inside of the vehicle; alcantara and wood on the steering wheel with a red circle in the center is too much and makes it look like Nissan is trying too hard to increase maybe the deluxe aspect of the car. The seats are very comfortable and provide the passenger with great support. Built-in DVD players in the headrests for the rear travelers and a seat ventilation option for the front seats gives the Patrol a nice environment.

After two and half hours of driving we arrived to the Alila resort in Jabal Akhdar, over 2,000 meters above sea level. The sight was unbelievably beautiful. Dark stones made the outside of the villas where we were staying the night. The weather was nice and a light breeze helped cool down the desert heat. A brief and a press conference awaited us to further develop our knowledge of the automobile. We are used to engine downsizing with turbocharging, but it's not the case with Nissan where the decrease from a 320 horsepower V8 to a 275 horsepower V6 without a turbo to compensate that loss of horsepower is what's making me a little doubtful of the capabilities of the Patrol. But, I had to wait and test the real performance so I could judge objectively. 100 kg were lost, of which 69 of them came from the engine alone with two missing cylinders (although you cannot really tell the difference because of the massive load the car is carrying).

First thing in the morning I took the car for a little drive and immediately detected the torque increase from the V6 and the two extra gears - now you have a seven-speed auto, instead of the five-speed in the previous model. The gear ratios are shorter so the torque is always available but you have to be in a low gear to keep the rpm near the red zone and in the torque zone. I didn't get the chance to go off-road to test its capabilities, but I am sure it will be the same as the V8, especially with the new gearbox. Driving modes are still selectable with the differential lock system that ensures that you keep going, particularly in snowy situations and sand trails. New trims and levels are now available for a desert package that also enlarges the options availability and possibly addresses more consumers. The Patrol's direct competitor, the Land Cruiser, is very well-equipped and has a tricked out four-wheel drive system.

So, the Patrol had a lot to live up to. To really experience the on-road potential, we drove ourselves back to the airport with the V6 Nissan. At low speeds and slow tracks the performance is fine but when traveling at speeds over 100 km/h, the engine lacks the punch of the V8. When I put my foot down in fourth gear while overtaking someone, I felt that I needed more power to push me forward and I immediately detected the need for extra muscle to make it faster. As for comfort, luxury and optional equipment, I found that everything is there to make my drive as pleasant as possible. I have to say that the BOSE sound system gives out a great acoustic quality, and on the high-resolution touchscreen everything is clear and the colors are vivid and lucid.

Verdict
It's a good thing that Nissan decided to keep the 5.6-liter 400 horsepower V8, available for its more demanding customers. If you think like me, big SUV's need big powerful engines to cope with their weight and the rough conditions that the car will be asked to deliver in hostile environments and tough positions.

Pros: Improved seven-speed gearbox, high torque at low rpm
Cons: V6 needs forced induction
Rivals: Toyota Land Cruiser, Mercedes-Benz GL Class, Range Rover Sport
one word: capable
3.5 stars

Specs
Engine: 4.0L V6, 275 hp @ 5,600 rpm, 395 Nm @ 4,000 rpm
7-speed automatic gearbox, 4WD with locking differentials
0-100 km/h: 11.4 sec, top speed: 205 km/h, fuel consumption: 10.8 L/100 km
Weight: 2,500 kg

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