THERE’S no doubting that one of the best things about Nissan’s Y62 Patrol is its VK56 V8 engine. No matter what side of the petrol versus diesel debate you sit on, you can’t help but smile when you plant your boot in a Patrol to unleash the full 298kW of power and the big wagon roars towards the horizon.
While the factory performance is bloody good, that doesn’t mean it can’t be better. If Nissan gives you almost 300kW to play with off the showroom floor, there are clever people out there who can improve the numbers.
Nissan’s VK series V8 engine has a rich motorsport history, especially in Japanese Super GT racing and endurance prototype categories like you see in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. A 5.0-litre version of the VK56 was even used in Australia’s V8 Supercars when Kelly Racing ran the factory-backed Altimas last decade.
The only road car to get the VK V8 in Australia is the Y62 Patrol and for most punters bolt-on performance upgrades will suffice, so the crew at Harrop have developed a supercharger kit for the 4x4 that has proved popular with owners.
When we saw and heard the bellow from Anthony Barr’s blown Patrol that was on the cover of the magazine last month, we wanted to check it out for ourselves. As it turned out, Harrop had just developed a new supercharger package for the latest generation of Patrols and had a new demo car for us to sample.
Previous Harrop supercharger kits for the Patrol have utilised the company’s FDFI2300 blower (2300cc displacement) but the latest kit uses the bigger FDFI2650 blower following demand from the Middle East market which, incidentally, is the biggest market for the Y62 and they are super keen for performance upgrades.
The Harrop superchargers are a positive displacement, Roots-style supercharger that incorporates TVS design from Eaton in the USA. TVS is Twin Vortices Series and refers to the two rotors within the housing which are a unique twisted four-lobe design to deliver optimal efficiency. That’s keeping it simple but suffice to say, this is the latest technology in supercharger design that dates back more than 120 years, and it delivers maximum performance.
The TVS supercharger kits for the Patrol have developed along with the VK56 engine itself to work with both the direct-injection versions (VK56VD) as found in the current models and the port injection VK56DE that came in the earlier Y62s.
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The Harrop kit includes the supercharger itself, the intake manifold, water-to-air intercooler and associated radiator and its plumbing, and all drive belts, brackets and hardware for installation.
The complete kit has been designed for relatively simple installation and it retains a factory appearance in the engine bay. If it wasn’t for the little ‘Harrop’ insignia on the supercharger you could be fooled in to thinking this was an OE installation from Nissan.
In standard form there is no real performance advantage using the FDFI2650 over the FDFI2300 blower as the bigger unit is driven via a larger (90mm) top pulley to slow it down when compared to the 2300. It’s on modified and specifically built engines that the true value of the 2650 can be unleashed. Pumping more air into an engine requires more fuel to burn and Harrop has employed an upgraded XDI fuel pump to supply more fuel into any direct-injected Patrol using the 2650 supercharger.
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Harrop’s murdered-out Patrol is a 2020 ‘Series-5’ Y62 and the engine and driveline remain otherwise standard, bar a muffler change to give the engine a richer exhaust note. The team put it on the hub dynamometer at the Harrop Performance Centre in Melbourne to get a baseline figure before starting work on it. It spun up to show 350-horsepower and 368-ft.lb at the hubs which they say is indicative of any standard new Patrol.
With the Harrop FDFI2650 fitted and the factory ECU recalibrated to suit using HP Tuners software, the car put out 482hp and 488lb.ft. That’s around 360kW and 662Nm of torque in the new money; up from 261kW and 499Nm before the pump went on.
Dyno figures are fine for impressing your mates at the pub but the real proof is in the drive and we were smiling as we took the keys to Harrop’s Patrol for a day. The full blackout treatment is enhanced by a set of similarly dark Method Wheels wearing 35-inch Toyo R/T tyres which look a bit funny under the stock-height suspension, but overall it’s an appealing and menacing appearance.
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Easing out of town the Patrol retains mild manners but you can certainly feel that that will change if and when you squeeze the accelerator down. The pedal does feel a bit more sensitive than we remember it in the stock car and this was further evident when driving slowly off road.
Squeezing that pedal a little farther as the freeway opens up and a tsunami of mid-range grunt pushes you back in to the seat and the Patrol quickly reaches the speed limit and wants to blast beyond it. The mid-range oomph is much appreciated on the country backroads as it makes overtaking slow trucks a swift and safe exercise, rapidly leaving the slower vehicle behind with minimal time spent overtaking.
The VK56 is no slouch of an engine in stock, naturally aspirated form and impresses with its torque delivery throughout its rev range. But the torque curve starts higher with the supercharger doing its thing and maintains that pick-up through to redline if you have the space to let it have it way.
From a standing start, mashing the throttle delivers instant push belying the Patrol’s bulk. The torque delivery is briefly interrupted as the 7-speed transmission pulls second gear but soon comes back on strongly. It almost feels like turbo lag before coming back on with a rush, but this torque control is needed to protect the driveline. Harrop’s own testing had this car knock over the zero to 100km/h sprint in 6.6 seconds, around a 1.4 seconds quicker than a naturally aspirated Y62 similarly riding on 35-inch tyres.
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As much fun and as sweet-sounding as that top-end charge is, it’s the mid-range torque boost that will be most appreciated by tourers and off-roaders. Hold the auto transmission in gear to keep the engine in its sweet spot on a winding mountain road and the driver is rewarded with turbo-diesel-like grunt out of bends and uphills. Those towing heavy loads would also appreciate this improvement in the way the supercharged Nissan engine delivers its torque.
It’s not like the V8 Patrol is actually lacking in performance in its factory form but the Harrop supercharger kit delivers that bit more grunt across the rev range any performance enthusiast will appreciate. And using the 2650 supercharger as the start point, the sky’s the limit for engines built with stronger internals, bigger injectors or even just a free-flowing exhaust system. All this potential in a top quality, well-engineered and factory-looking upgrade package.
The Harrop FDFI supercharger kit for the VK56 engine costs $12,650 plus fitting and ECU calibration for the Series 2 to 5 Y62, or $11,990 plus fitting for the earlier models. The kit is also compatible with Nissan Titan pickup trucks using the VK56 engine.
For more information, visit www.harrop.com.au
Photos: Cristian Brunelli, Video: Cam Inness