Years before virtual reality, Nissan perfected the science of virtual indestructibility. The result is the Nissan Patrol. It's not pretty, it certainly isn't quick, and even in diesel-engined guise, particularly economical. With its boxy shape more likely to be mistaken for the trap at a clay pigeon shoot, the Patrol is not a favourite of the Barbour brigade, although its serious off road credentials are frequently put to the test.
The Patrol is one of the few off road vehicles that are frequently taken off road. Favoured by farmers, tree surgeons, vets, and gamekeepers, the Patrol is happiest when up to its axles in squelching mud. Of the models reviewed here, the 4.2 petrol engine is the beast of the bunch, its raw power making it the bluntest of implements with which to sledgehammer any obstacles. The 2.8 litre diesel engines of the Patrol range are perhaps the most versatile, however, offering a decent balance between economy and torque. Just don't expect Lexus-style refinement.
Whilst the Patrol may well be built to last, many owners try hard to test this fact. They often lead a hard life. Off road driving is a punishing activity and many Patrols will also have been used to tow caravans, boats and the like. With this in mind, check for evidence of towing equipment and test the suspension fully, as towing can seriously deteriorate the life expectancy of rear shock absorbers - even on a Patrol. Also check for evidence of fuel leaks, a sticking differential lock and corrosion around the tailgate.
Inspect the exhaust, wheel arch liners, suspension and chassis and for damage caused whilst off roading and get to know the history of the vehicle in question. As a favourite tool of ram raiders in the nineties, the model was dubbed the 'Nissan Parole' by the tabloid press. Therefore check to see if the vehicle is HPI clear and insist on service history and receipts. If in doubt, take a specialist.
(approx based on a 2.8TD) A mix here between prices agreeably affordable and figures to prematurely age your bank manager. Front brake pads are around £44 and rears £40. You'll need to be trying hard off road to destroy a headlight, but the privilege will cost £132. A new clutch and a radiator will cost in the region of £230 each, and a starter motor will be £340. Are you sitting down? A new exhaust will be around £560 and a new alternator won't see change from £600.
No great surprises here. The Patrol is designed to excel off road, so it shouldn't come as a shock to discover that the big Nissan isn't the nimblest car out there. Perched high in the cabin, the all round view is excellent, and the steering on all models is relatively good. Despite this, even the 4.2 petrol engined models are not hugely quick, and the 2.8 diesel models are, let's face it, rather slow. With 60mph arriving in 22 seconds in the Patrol TD SE five-door, there's plenty of time to appreciate the car's other qualities.
The interior fixings may look quite basic, but they are built to last, and are generally dependable. The tyres create a fair bit of road noise, and the square shape doesn't so much slip through the air as bludgeon its way forth, with resultant wind roar at speed. One thing's for sure; you'll never be accused of being a Kings Road cruiser.
A well-inspected Nissan Patrol will make a rugged and faithful companion. If armour plating a Labrador seems extreme, then a Patrol may well be the next best thing. It has a no-nonsense image and can be used for all the family oriented uses whilst having the ability to tackle muddy fields and minor Alps.
Take time, and opt for the newest possible model, as many will find the earliest car maybe a touch too spartan. If the purposeful image and undoubted capabilities appeal, you could do a lot worse than the Nissan Patrol. With the latest range finding its feet on the used market, now is as good a time as any to buy.