Road test: 2018 Nissan Patrol Nismo
Nissan’s stalwart gets the Nismo treatment but there’s a sense of a job half done
Now, if you have driven on just about any motorway in any part of the UAE at any point in the past few years, you and the view in your mirrors might argue that the need for a souped-up Nissan Patrol is negligible. The Japanese carmaker’s big brute of an off-roader does, after all, seem to be among the fastest vehicles on the country’s roads – whether its mechanical vital statistics back that up or otherwise.
But here we are anyway with the latest tuned version from Nismo – a portmanteau of Nissan Motorsports, the brand’s in-house performance division – which was launched in the Middle East in 2015.
Each 5.6-litre V8 is hand-tuned by Nismo’s takumis – a Japanese word that means “artisan”, although it mostly serves to make these expert-level grease monkeys sound like magical ninjas – while the suspension and steering also get sporty upgrades.
Nismo badging aside, red piping around the exterior is the main at-50-paces aid to help you spot this 428hp monster versus the regular Patrol (there is also a red-trimmer rev meter and a bunch of red stitching inside). Look closer and you will see Nismo touches to features including the side vents, 22-inch alloy wheels and chrome grille.
As has come to be something of a benchmark in this part of the world, the Patrol keeps all the interior creature comforts you have come to expect from this mobile sitting room, including a yawning great refrigerated central storage cubbyhole.
In addition to its extra 28hp versus the regular top-spec V8 Patrol, maximum torque may be unchanged, but it is available at a lower rpm in the Nismo, and you can feel that punch when you decide to give the big fella some right foot. The general levels of cosseted soundproofing do lead to a slightly false sense of security when heading toward speed-camera-troubling levels, which may go some way to explaining the assertions made in the first paragraph above.
It may be a tweaked sports version, but the Patrol still doesn’t feel hugely stable at speed – you suspect that enthusiastic cornering will end up with you making friends with lamp posts and crash barriers. And although it isn’t in quite the same price stratosphere – and despite the fact that Nissan won’t confirm the 0-to-100kph time – it seems safe to say that it will still be left in a trail of dust by genuine super SUVs, such as the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, which kicks out 707hp, and the imminent Lamborghini Urus.
Reading all of this, you might be under the impression that I would rather parade through the streets in my underwear than actually own a Patrol Nismo, but that isn’t quite the case. That sensation of ruling the roads from your lofty perch is frankly imperious, and with the extra grunt at your disposal, it does feel like you are almost invulnerable on the roads, whether in traffic or gobbling up expanses of motorway.
If Nissan’s top brass is listening, however, I do have one idea: the blancmange-like regular Patrol doesn’t quite suit a sports version, unlike Nismo-fiddled stablemates such as the GT-R and 370Z. So how about taking things to their logical conclusion with a Patrol Super Safari Nismo, adding speed to the extreme off-roading capabilities of this better-looking variant? Now, that would be a Nismo worthy of a waiting list. Until then, this is a potent beast that will please plenty of Patrol patrons across the UAE, but feels a touch too much like a normal SUV with some go-faster bells and whistles, rather than a fully realised concept.
Updated: March 11, 2018 01:03 PM