It would appear that Nissan’s performance arm, Nismo, won’t rest until it has Nismoed every single model the Japanese giant builds. For the Middle East market, it has left its red-and-white signature on the GT-R and the 370Z, while the UK, US and Japan have a fettled-with Juke, Note and Pulsar with more performance to enjoy. But they don’t get the Patrol Nismo – we do – and they should all feel very upset, because this hulking beast is brilliant.
The latest model from the tuner was dwarfed, metaphorically, during Nismo’s launch event at the Autodrome last year, by the much smaller Godzilla. wheels Arabic editor Fadi Takieddine was there that day and admitted he didn’t even notice the Patrol as it was parked next to the fetching GT-R. Fadi didn’t get much wheel time with the Patrol that day. I was fortunate enough to spend last weekend with this big and brutal Nissan, and I came away very impressed. It’s a giant in every sense of the word.
Nissan’s body-on-frame behemoth already has a very healthy 5.6-litre V8 mated to a slick seven-speed automatic that makes 400bhp. Indeed, the regular Patrol is a powerhouse and much-loved in the UAE. It’s the people’s car, a firm favourite – but this one adds an extra 28 horses to the total along with far more aggressive aesthetics. You can feel the difference when you stand on the throttle, so means it will, without a doubt, go down very well with those looking for a feistier version.
With the power sent to all four wheels, this Patrol not only goes harder, but grips better than the other iterations – and it definitely isn’t for introverts; it demands attention wherever it goes. If you were to compare it to other hopped-up SUVs such as the Range Rover Sport SVR or the BMW X6M, it wouldn’t be able to compete in terms of power and dynamics. Those two take performance up a considerable notch, but to be honest, sitting so high and being flung from 0-100kph in under 5.0 seconds feels unnatural. This Patrol does the ton in a more leisurely 7.3 seconds, – still impressive given its size and weight.
Nismo, which started back in 1984 as a specialist company to provide support for Nissan’s motorsport involvement, could easily have tuned it to be much quicker. The Takumi takes great pride in building engines and the master craftsmen at the Nissan factory in Yokohama sure worked their magic on the incredible 3.8-litre in the legendary GT-R. The hand-built twin-turbocharged V6 has 550 horses and when you floor it, it feels as if you’ve fast-forwarded to the future.
These chaps could have poked and prodded the Patrol and produced a similar sensation but, why? When did you last see the Rangey or Bimmer on the track? 428bhp is plenty for the road. If I had to choose between the three, I’d opt for the Sport SVR for its exhaust note alone, but the Nissan too has a deep rumble. No, it isn’t as powerful as the other two, but it also doesn’t come off as pretentious. It’s quite happy where it’s at in this new guise, and feels like a more complete and competent package, but one that isn’t always frothing at the mouth and begging to be unleashed.
The extra horses are manageable; they haven’t transformed the Patrol into a raging lunatic, they’ve given it just the right amount of oomph so you can differentiate this from the regular model. Nismo says changes to the motor have resulted in a beefier torque spread across 70 per cent of the rev range and aside from being more rapid, it also has better handling and ride comfort thanks to an improved suspension system. It has Bilstein shocks in all four corners along with a sport-tuned power steering. What’s more, customised body reinforcements do their bit to aid handling and steering response. This was always a terrific off-roader and highway cruiser but the Nismo package makes it even better. However, with all the addenda, you probably wouldn’t want to venture off the beaten path in this.
With our tester’s black paint and red trim, it looks like it means business, but it strikes a happy balance of solid performance with lots of refinement. It could never be considered sporty – it’s just too tall, wide and heavy. The other aforementioned models might be blessed with far more pace and power but they’re not proper sports cars either. But this one has plenty of Nismo add-ons inside and out to brag about.
The exterior features a redesigned front bumper (it is heavily inspired by the two coupés) with a massive intake, vertical gills and horizontal LED daytime running lights. It has new side skirts, bigger 22in Rays alloy wheels, a black-painted roof spoiler, twin-exhaust tips, a diffuser and ‘Nismo’ badges, which set it apart from other Patrols. It also has a lower and more aggressive stance.
The cabin, which has three rows and can accommodate seven adults, is luxurious. The leather seats are ever-so supple and comfortable, and I like the black wood inserts on the dashboard, door panels, and centre console. The regular instrument cluster has been ditched for a Nismo-specific unit with a red rev counter, but the steering wheel disappoints. It’s half wrapped in leather and suede, and when you grip it, you can feel where the two materials join in the palm of your hands. Not nice. Other than that, you can’t fault much in here – not when it’s loaded with rear TV screens, ventilated seats, satnav, parking sensors, reversing cameras and blind-spot detection mirrors.
With Nissan announcing the world’s first Nismo Corner at dedicated showrooms in our region, it won’t be long before we see more and more Nismo-fettled Nissans doing the rounds, and if they’re as good as this Patrol, then we’re in for a treat.
It used to hurt when cars as cool as this were sold in other markets and not destined for ours. So if you happen to read this review anywhere other than the Middle East and feel as if you’re missing out by not having access to this hotter version of the legendary Patrol, all I can say is – yes. You really are.