MANUFACTURERS inviting us half way across the country to see their latest and greatest releases isn’t really out of the ordinary, it’s standard fare for a vehicle launch and gives them the opportunity to tell us all the reasons why their new model will be the biggest and best thing ever sold.
But as we write this we’re still knocking red dirt out of our boots from one of the more unusual launches we’ve ever attended. Three days in the heart of the Flinders Ranges to say goodbye to the Nissan GU Patrol.
First introduced to the market nearly 20 years ago, the GU quickly earned a reputation as a serious workhorse, especially when opted with Nissan’s renowned TD42 turbo-diesel engine. Despite various facelifts offering new features and more modern designs, the model range was whittled down due to ever-tightening emission restrictions so that the 3.0L ZD30 common-rail engine was all that remained.
Now, with the adoption of the latest (and even stricter) Euro 5 emissions laws, the GU is dead in the water. Unable to meet emissions regulations or customer expectations without a significant (read: costly) overhaul that simply doesn’t make sense for our relatively small market. Reluctantly Nissan accepted the time had come to say goodbye. But with the Patrol playing such an important part in Nissan’s history it’d be a disservice to quietly end sales of what is arguably one of the most capable and versatile 4x4 platforms ever built.
Enter the Legend Edition.
THE LEGEND EDITION
BASED on the ST Wagon platform, the Legend Edition is a limited run of 300 units in various shades of white and silver, decked out from head to toe in $10,000 worth of genuine accessories. There’s a heavy duty genuine steel bullbar which houses a Warn winch, a genuine roof rack, snorkel, tow bar, spare wheel cover and rear view camera up the back, satellite navigation in the dash, and the ubiquitous decals down the side.
On the driveline front nothing changes from the ST model, with 118kW from the common-rail diesel. The five-speed manual offers 380Nm, a braked towing capacity of 3200kg and a claimed fuel consumption of 10.9L/100km. The four-speed automatic sees significant drops across the board with 345Nm, a braked towing capacity of 2500kg and fuel consumption climb to 11.8L/100km.
Despite the various stylistic updates of the recent models, behind the wheel still very much feels like you’re in the same vehicle rolled out back in 1997. The interior feels dated and simple with a minimum of fuss and a very Spartan features list. For some people it’ll be a deal breaker, for others a deal maker. Off-road credentials are top of the market. Solid axles front and rear, and coil springs all ’round with a five-link arrangement in the rear and radius arms up front. There’s a cross-axle diff lock in the rear, auto-locking hubs up front, and a total of 125L of diesel-carrying ability. Third-row seating takes the capacity to a true seven-seater; although, rear passengers should be children or adults you don’t like.
Despite the addition of $10,000 worth of accessories the Legend Edition has a driveaway price of $57,990. Compare that to the old ST pricing of $57,390 plus on roads and dealer charges and the Legend Edition makes for one hell of a bargain.
GET IN QUICK
SO IF the ZD30 Patrol no longer meets emissions standards how are they able to sell them? The long and the short of it is that every single vehicle Nissan intends to sell needed to be imported and complied before the Euro 5 cut-off date. Because of this they’ll be able to sell brand-new Patrols long after they had to stop importing them. The downside is that means that stock is incredibly limited. Not including any older GUs still sitting in dealer lots, only 300 limited Legend Editions were brought into the country and all are expected to be gone by February, 2017.
If you’ve got a hankering for some good old-fashioned solid-axle 4x4s of the Nissan variety, you’d want to be getting a deposit down very quickly.
IT’S NOT ALL DOOM AND GLOOM
THE Nissan name is legendary in Australia, no pun intended, and the Patrol is a large reason for it. For the better part of 66 years they’ve been a common sight on Australian tracks. The one common theme throughout each and every model has been solid axles and rugged reliability. They were never the plush barges other makes tried to be, and they were always relatively robust.
From the early G60 Patrols right through to the GU there has always been a natural progression rather than a wild evolution. It’s because of this that the Y62 Patrol has come as such a shock. 50 years of solid axles out the window with independent suspension front and rear; the body is large, interior is leather, and the engine is petrol. It’s the exact opposite of everything we’ve come to expect from a Patrol, so it has understandably put a lot of buyers on the back foot.
The reality is, it’s a fitting replacement that perhaps says more about the previous model being outdated rather than the new one being a giant leap ahead. While hardly a princess myself, there was no denying in the steep scrabbly terrain of the Flinders Ranges the Y62 was simply the more capable and comfortable vehicle. It ate up everything you could throw its way and, after driving the new and old models back-to-back through all sorts of terrain, the Y62 would be the pick in every situation.
Some people might miss the smell of a diesel, but with an insane 560Nm available from the Y62’s V8 there’s a lot to like about the new model. Will we miss the GU? Absolutely. But the future is hardly looking dim.