After 11 years of faithful service, my Land Rover Discovery had started to exhibit signs of a brutal existence at my hands so we decided it was time to upgrade. Despite what many 4WD ‘experts’ out there say, I was very satisfied with Land Rover and was keen to go to a newer model. Only issue was, a Discovery 3 was out of my budget so I had a look at the latest incarnation of the Defender. Kylie and I took one for a drive and we loved it despite it being ergonomically quirky. So off to talk turkey to the dealer. That’s when our world came crashing down. It would be a six month wait at least if we were lucky, there were no special deals as they were selling more than they could get and I would have to accept what ever colour they could get otherwise I could be waiting 12 months for my choice of colour. We were both disappointed and left to do some soul searching.
We discussed our options. The criteria was simple. It had to be a diesel full size 4WD, live axels each end and less than $60,000. We talked about a Toyota Landcruiser, but even the most basic of models was beyond my price range. I did’t want a Jeep, too many horror stories. So the only other vehicle available that fitted the spec was a Nissan Patrol.
Now I had heard the horror stories about the 3.0 ‘hand grenade’ issue but had also heard that these issues had been well and truly sorted out with the new common rail motor. In any case, we had been using Patrols in the SES for years without any issues, so we figured we should go and have a look.
We drove down to the local Nissan dealer and had a look in the showroom. There we saw an example of the Walkabout pack that Nissan had on sale. It was essentially the poverty pack DX but it had all the necessary 4WD fruit added. Side steps, tow pack, alloy bull bar, snorkel, cruise control, rear cargo barrier and just to sweeten the deal, $2000 worth of new camping gear. All well within budget. They had 2 left. A white automatic and a manual in grey. So we took the manual for a drive. It was pretty good and we both decided that for the right price, this would be a a great 4wd for what we wanted to do. Long story short, we struck an amazing deal and signed up on that day.
We have now had ‘Edwin’ for 9 years and have clocked up just over 100,000ks in him. That doesn’t sound like a lot but all those ks have been either doing extreme 4WDing or long distance touring and outback travelling towing either a camper trailer or an off road caravan, and it has never skipped a beat.
Additional items we fitted were:
- Dual battery system – cTek 250 Dual
- Alloy roof rack
- Clearview mirrors
- FourBe Fitouts rear drawer system
- HID driving lights
- Tekonsha P3 electronic brake controller
- Recaro seats
- Philips FM1000 programmable transceiver
- Pioneer GPS/DVD Sound System
- Ironman heavy duty 2″ lift kit
When we decided to go to a caravan, I knew I would be asking a fair bit of the standard 3.0l engine, so we decided to take Edwin to Turbo Engineering in Thomastown (Vic) for some serious enhancement. This involved fitting a tuning module and 3′ Red Back exhaust system. When I spoke to the guys at Turbo Engineering, I told them I was’t interested in outright maximum increases in power and torque. Rather I wanted the tune to be more suited to towing heavy loads. This meant more torque produced earlier on in the rev range, a flatter torque curve and max torque produced 1500 ands 2000 rpm. Well that’s exactly what they delivered. This totally transformed the Patrol into a serious towing rig. It also made driving it much more enjoyable as well as improving the fuel economy. I was completely amazed by what these guys were able to achieve.
Edwin towed our River Eliminator extremely well. We could pretty much sit in 4th gear for most of the time and sit between 90 and 100 kph. Going up hills required a change of gear but most could be tackled in 3rd without too much fuss. It was no rocket ship but it was certainly no chore either. With 2.6t in tow, we would get between 16 and 20 l/100ks. The variance was mainly due to the very high stance of the caravan which was like a massive spinnaker in anything resembling a head wind.
Edwin’s days of towing caravans have ended now. The new Safari Tamer is just too heavy and will be beyond the Patrol’s capabilities and limits. But we will hang on to it for a bit longer. Its running so well and is still an off road weapon for when I want to go away with the boys.