2016 Nissan Patrol Desert Edition Review

We take Nissan’s purpose-built Desert Edition for a spin in Liwa
Imthishan Giado

Nissan Patrol Desert Edition

You know it’s been a good year for a car company when they decide to commission not one, but two exclusive editions for our region. The first was the faster, sharper NISMO patrol; this Desert Edition is the second.

Click below to watch my video from the launch drive in Liwa.

 

Unlike the NISMO Patrol which is built in Japan, the Desert Edition is put together here in the UAE, using a base LE 400bhp as a starting point. Local rally champ Dr Mohammed Ben Sulayem, whose name graces the desert edition, has conducted more than 4200km of testing to help refine the perfect feel from the reservoir shocks, built by rally specialist HT.

Nissan Patrol Desert Edition

Though the car does not have any additional lift, the Desert Edition does boast a bounty of extra kit: 6mm skid plates front and rear, a standard NAV system, a locally-fitted onboard air compressor for quickly airing up tires, a flag so you can be seen in the dunes, overfenders for chunky offroad looks, and interestingly, beadlock wheels, custom built by Hutchinson for the Patrol.

Some of you may not know what the fuss is about beadlock wheels. To understand why, you need to think about what happens when you take a car into the dunes. You can’t just drive in with full tyre pressures: your car would sink up to its axles.

Nissan Patrol Desert Edition

Desert driving is all about spreading the weight and floating on top of the dunes; that’s why you air the tires down to about half road pressures to increase the contact patch. Air down too little and you won’t get any traction; air down too much and you run the risk of unseating the tyre off the rim, a disastrous turn of events.

With the Patrol’s beadlock rims, the tyre is clamped onto the wheel so you can air the tires to even sub-10 psi levels safely. At those low pressures, the car drives effortlessly on the sand, the additional grip translating into lower engine revs too.

Nissan Patrol Desert Edition

Not that the Patrol is lacking in grunt. 400bhp from a 5.6-litre V8 means the 2.7-tonne Desert Edition effortlessly makes big climbs in the towering Liwa dunes. It’s a grunty engine that’s well matched to the slick shifting seven-speed automatic, though I wish Nissan had added paddles for the Desert Edition, instead of relying on pushing/pulling the transmission lever. Not easy to remember which way is up when you’re climbing eight-storey dunes…

Most of the addons are cosmetic in nature and even the beadlock wheels aren’t really being utilised on our drive: tyre pressures are a conservative 15psi. No, what you’re paying for is the uprated suspension, and it’s good! On the dunes the stiffer shocks can handle drops and bumps without grounding out; on road they’re definitely stiffer than stock and provide a grainer ride, but it’s not unpleasant, just more talkative.

Nissan Patrol Desert Edition

For real experts, there’s an optional ABS killswitch. As the name implies, it disables all ABS functions in the sand at the press of a button. You might want this since ABS can get confused on sand and hamper smooth brake application; however to get the switch you’ll have to sign a waiver absolving Nissan of any responsibility since you’re disabling an active safety system.

Verdict

The regular LE rings up the register at AED219k; for the Desert Edition addons Nissan is asking AED255,000. 36k may seem like a steep figure, especially considering you can buy the same or better parts cheaper from aftermarket sources.

Nissan Patrol Desert Edition

Buying it from Nissan, however, means that your all-important manufacturer warranty remains intact. And besides, at only 200 units for the region, it’s going to be quite a rare sight on our roads. The ultimate version of the Patrol? On the basis of this first drive, it’s certainly the best one yet.

2016 Nissan Patrol Desert Edition (MBS) – The Specs

Price: AED255,000 (US$69.4k)
Engine: 5.6-litre V8, 400bh, 410lb ft
Performance: 0-100kph 8.0secs, 200kph + (all est)
Transmission: 7-speed auto, four-wheel drive
Weight:  2795kg

 

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