Originally published in May 2013 issue of 4X4 Australia.
NISSAN’S sixth-generation Y62 Patrol has a tough task ahead if it is to prosper in Australia.
The big hurdle it has to face is a preference for diesel power that’s so strong in this market sector that last year 94 percent of LandCruiser 200 Series buyers opted for the diesel engine despite its substantial price premium over the petrol V8. And, if you don’t know already, the new Patrol only comes with a 5.6-litre petrol V8.
To see how the Patrol shapes up we have lined it up against the popular 200 Series GXL diesel, the least expensive of the 200 diesels bar the commercial-grade GX. At this price point ($90K approx) the nearest equivalent Patrol is the mid-spec Ti.
The Patrol’s 5.6-litre petrol V8 features quad-cam 32-valve architecture and is packed with the latest technology including direct fuel injection and variable valve lift and variable valve timing. The variable valve lift is both unusual and interesting as it is used to control the engine’s air intake instead of a rotating throttle plate in the inlet manifold. Of course, variable valve timing (only on the inlet side in this case) is more common and helps spread out the engine’s power delivery. It’s like having a mild cam (for better bottom-end power) and a high-performance cam (for better high performance power) all at the same time.
The end result is thumping 298kW of power (at 5800rpm) and a maximum of 560Nm of torque (at 4000rpm). More importantly the engine makes better than 500Nm from as low as 2500rpm.
On the road this engine is a gem. It’s smooth, refined, and responsive and has a highly intoxicating V8 note. On full noise it propels the weighty (2800kg) Ti along like some monster racecar yet at the same time it can be relaxed and effortless, if that’s what takes your fancy. This sweet V8 is beautifully matched to a slick and quick seven-speed auto that is about as good as it gets, ZF’s superb eight-speed auto aside.
Nissan Patrol history
The 200’s 4.5-litre twin-turbo diesel V8 feels altogether different. In comparison it’s noisy and a little gruff. It’s great driven in isolation but back-to-back it with the Nissan’s petrol engine and it can’t hide the fact that it’s a slow-revving, lazy diesel. And with a peak of 195kW (at 3400rpm) it can’t keep pace with the Nissan pedal-to-the-metal although with 650Nm on tap from 1600 to 2600rpm it’s even more effortless at low to moderate road speeds than the Nissan’s already no-sweat V8. No complaints either about the Toyota’s tall-geared six-speed auto.
Unfortunately the rub for the Nissan comes at the fuel bowser. On this test, over mixed give-and-take secondary roads and with some off-road thrown in, it averaged 20.3 litres/100km against the Toyota’s 13.4 litres/100km. That means it used 51.5 percent more fuel. Even the Patrol’s ADR Combined-Cycle fuel-consumption figure of 14.5 litres/100km is over 40 percent higher than the LandCruiser’s ADR figure of 10.3 litres/100km.
Given both have similar tank sizes (149 litres for the Patrol and 138 litres for the Cruiser), the Toyota has a significant range advantage, so it’s not just a matter of fuel cost. The Patrol also asks for premium 95RON although we have found that it runs on regular 91RON without any issues, although probably at a minor cost to the consumption.
Unlike every other Patrol in history, the new Y62 is fitted with coil-sprung, fully independent suspension. The mid-spec Ti (tested here) and the top-spec Ti-L also have what Nissan calls ‘Hydraulic Body Motion Control’ (or HBMC, for short), which uses active dampers to control the on-road body roll when cornering.
The result is surprisingly flat handling that almost feels physics defying. You turn the Patrol into a sharp corner and you expect it to lean over but it just stays flat. It actually feels a little strange until you get used to it.
With its fully independent suspension, the Patrol is also largely unfussed on bumpy roads and maintains good directional stability. Over big bumps, and especially at speed, the ride quality is also excellent although at low speeds the small bump compliance isn’t great and the ride can be a little sharp, although never uncomfortable.
In contrast, the 200’s ride is more supple and compliant but with its live axle at the rear can be more upset at speed on bad roads. Our test GXL (unusually for a Toyota media vehicle) wasn’t fitted with KDSS and, as a result, the body roll was noticeable and it lacked the sharp, positive handling of the Patrol. Even with KDSS (and we have driven lots of 200s with KDSS), the 200 can’t match the Patrol’s flat handling.
Both of these vehicles also have very light steering for their size but of the two the Patrol’s feels a little more direct and communicative. Along with the flatter handling it gives the Patrol a surprisingly sporty feel that the 200 just can’t quite match.
The Patrol also has an on-demand 4X4 system whereas the 200 has a conventional full-time 4X4 system. With the Patrol’s system in ‘Auto’ the drive is primarily directed to the rear wheels and will only be directed, in part, to the front wheels when there’s rear wheel slip. On the other hand the 200 directs drive to all four wheels, even on a high-traction, no-slip surface.
These two bring completely different sets of ‘weapons’ to the off-road contest. The Patrol’s fully independent suspension is a theoretical negative, which is negated to some extent by its lack of sway bars that help maximise the available travel. It also comes standard with electronic traction control and a driver-switched rear locker. With the locker engaged the traction control is negated on the rear axle but stays active on the front axle.
World's fastest Toyota LandCruiser
The Toyota’s live rear axle is a significant positive in terms of wheel travel but, without KDSS on the test vehicle, the travel is reduced a little from what KDSS offers. Unlike the Patrol, the 200 doesn’t have a rear locker and instead relies solely on its electronic traction control.
The end result of all this is that the Patrol just edged out the 200 in the gnarly stuff, doing things just a little bit easier. However, had the 200 been fitted with KDSS the result would have been reversed as we found in our recent 4X4OTY contest.
Aside from that, both of these are big vehicles that don’t offer great over-bonnet visibility and in tighter going can be demanding to drive. That said they are both very capable, even on showroom stock tyres.
The 200 has a couple of positives in its more compliant, more forgiving ride – good for extended trail driving – and it also offers better engine braking. Not so good is the ever-present whine when in low range.
One negative with the Ti’s HBMC system is that it’s not amenable to aftermarket enhancement whereas the base-model’s non-HBMC system, with its standard dampers, can be modified.
CABINS AND ACCOMMODATION
Both these wagons seat eight and are big and comfortable inside but the Patrol takes the prize for rear-seat room and luggage space. Third-row seating in both is however a little restricted and really only for kids, or small adults over short distances.
In typical Toyota fashion the third row seats fold up against the rear windows, which eats into luggage space while the Patrol’s fold into the floor. This raises the floor height but also means the floor is not completely flat.
Up front, there’s little to separate the two. Both have comfortable seats and reach and tilt adjustment for the steering wheel although the Patrol’s leather driver’s seat has full electric adjustment whereas the 200’s cloth seats are manual adjust, save for the lumbar adjust for the driver.
If towing is you go then both of these wagons have a solid 3500kg towing capacity. Both also have similar GVMs, 3300kg for the LandCruiser and 3450kg for the Patrol. Given the Patrol is also heavier than the LandCruiser (2800kg vs. 2675kg at the spec level) there’s nothing in it in terms of payload, which is not great in either case.
Both also have bush-practical wheel/tyre sizes with the 200 on the familiar 285/65R17s while the Patrol has more unusual 265/70R18s. To find replacement tyres for the Patrol you will have to scratch around a little more, or possibly go to an alternate tyre size.
This is pretty simple really. The Patrol is a highly impressive vehicle but its thirsty petrol V8 is a fatal flaw. Not only does it make the Patrol more costly to run but also it compromises its touring range, a vital consideration for bush travel especially in more remote areas. All of which is a great shame as the Patrol is well equipped for the money and its chassis works a treat thanks to the very clever HBMC system. We are yet to test a base-spec Patrol without HBMC but stay tuned … it’s in the pipeline.
All of which leaves the 200 diesel as the sensible and practical buy that it has always been. It’s not cheap, but it does the job.