The West

Patrol remains awesome off-road
2013 Nissan Patrol. Supplied picture

The Holy Grail for car companies, in these globalised times, is the world car.

The single model that's accepted in every market, that is.

A clear illustration is General Motors' Cruze, which is made in various countries (including here) and sold just about everywhere.

But the Holden Commodore, indigenous to Australia and sparing in its world travels, doesn't fit the global ideal.

Such cars worry the economies- of-scale watchers at the world headquarters of most car makers.

Which brings us to the Nissan Patrol.

It's an icon in Australia, where in the past 50 years 100,000 owners have accumulated romantic memories - of feats, finds and fun.

Through five generations of models it's been pretty much unstoppable when thrown at tough terrain.

But limited serious off-roading opportunities elsewhere has made Australia one of the few countries the Patrol has remained popular.

So, with low global sales, Nissan has spent little upgrading 1997's Y61 Patrol model over the years.

Buy one new today and, in many respects, you're getting a 15-year-old design, as awesome as its abilities remain.

But get this. Eighteen months ago Nissan did release an all-new Patrol, the Y62, but we won't see it until next January.

The reason for the delay was strong interest from the Middle East and Russia, tying up the factory with left-hand-drive orders.

Here's another quirk that hasn't gone our way. Unlike us, Middle Eastern and Russian 4WD buyers are not into diesel, so a V8 petrol engine is the only one that will be offered here as well.

And what about this for strange bedfellows. Come January, the Y61 will be asked for a last-gasp effort for the team.

The old-timer has been told to remain on sale till told otherwise.

It will do duty as the rough- tough diesel Patrol, starting at $53,490.

Alongside, looking down its nose, will be the new high-tech, high-luxury V8 petrol Patrol, starting at $30,000 more.

I've just had a drive of the latter - in the rough and on the racetrack, of all places - and it's a ripper, mostly.

It still looks like it could be unkind in a dark alley, but has more of the rounded edges expected of SUVs in the better suburbs. And it has the high-tech kit you find in German models.

Think bird's-eye-view cameras, collision avoidance, adaptable cruise control, blind-spot warning and lane-departure assist.

Mind you, I couldn't get the drift of Nissan making the everyday need of sat-nav available only on the V8 pinnacle model.

The cavernous cabin, which seats up to eight, is quiet and salubrious, though I thought the woodgrain and cloth material (on the base model) were a bit old-school.

It's a gun off-road, as the soft-bottomed creek I got through proved.

The 4WD system has easy-to-select terrain modes, low-range gears and a diff lock.

On-road, it's very quick and provides surprising agility and stability for a 2.8-tonne beast.

Both off and on-road, far superior stability and comfort are provided by the mid and top-spec models, which come with nifty hydraulic body motion control.

A diesel Y62 is what most Australian Patrol fans have been hoping for.

Nissan has no plans for such a car. But then again, it has yet to rule it out either.

Model Nissan Patrol Y62 model
Variants ST-L, Ti, Ti-L
Estimated prices $82,000 to $112,000
Drivetrain 298kW 5.6-litre V8, seven-speed auto
Thirst 14.5L/100km (premium unleaded)
0-100km/h 6.6sec.

The West Australian

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