Yes, this is a 2019 model, and it’s the home-grown UAE special edition paying proud respect to a heritage that goes back to the first Nissan Patrols in the region imported to Saudi Arabia back in 1957 – fast-forward a little and we’ve just tested the new 2019 Nissan Patrol Gazelle X off-roader all over its backyard…
The Nissan Patrol’s history in the region goes all the way to 1957, and it made its first impact and so steeped is this off-roader in the UAE’s automotive culture that the fundamentals are sacred, and any changes to the icon are approached cautiously.
When Nissan launched the Y61 fifth-generation Patrol in 1997 they probably didn’t plan to keep going for so long, but even a sixth- and upcoming seventh-generation model don’t seem to be rattling the enduring Y61. People here just love it, and the Patrol still sells in Super Safari trim.
It’s not just a niche, nostalgic choice either – you see them everywhere, and Nissan is actively investing in the thing, 21 years later, and all because of its admiration in our region.
You can now forget your 10-speed electronic automatics, terrain-response systems, and downhill assists, because Nissan has just released a line of special-edition Patrols in the UAE for the desert aficionados who like to shift between high and low range via a proper transfer case, and preferably, change gears manually.
You could argue that for just under AED300,000 for the range-topping Nissan Patrol Gazelle X you could buy the most sophisticated SUV out there, but Nissan says that’s missing the point as the Falcon and Gazelle are aimed as weekend toys rather than as daily drivers.
Instead of modern LCD screens for things like navigation and parking assist, lane departure warnings, USB ports or intelligent cruise control, your money buys you a comprehensively stacked vehicle aimed at doing one thing well… Bashing dunes.
Items like a satin silver front skid plate, chrome bumper guard with an LED light bar, embedded LED fog lights, 16-inch black wheels, an analogue air compressor and even a shiny polished silver jerry are all standard on the AED169,000 Falcon, as is the five-speed manual ‘box. For an extra five grand you can have a five-speed automatic.
The next one up is the Gazelle which weighs in at AED224,000 and AED229,000 for the manual and automatic respectively, stepping up with 17-inch bronze alloys on all-terrain tyres, tinted head and taillights, a front winch, snorkel, a digital air compressor, and remote tuned reservoir shock suspension on a two-inch lift kit.
It’s all very serious and with those big balloon tyres, it’s an easier car to drive in the desert than it is trying to keep in one lane on the roads, however there’s still more left in the options basket for the flagship Gazelle X.
For AED293,000 for the manual and AED298,000 for the auto, the Nissan Patrol Gazelle X is a turnkey desert monster with every conceivable option included. In addition to al of the above it gets heavy duty front and rear steel bumpers with tow hooks, LED cube lights, a 30-inch LED light bar mounted on the roof rack, 12-inch wide tyres, custom skid plates, and finally, a fake bonnet scoop… Yeah, that one got us too.
Inside there’s a custom-built storage unit in the back behind a rear safety cage that packs tow ropes, a safety kit, sand ramps, a high-mounted flag and two digital air compressors.
While all this comes at a price and some could argue that you could spec it yourself using aftermarket products for less, Nissan’s case is that buying it this way includes a full factory bumper-to-bumper, three-year or 100,000km warranty, whereas the other way voids it. So you literally could walk into the showroom, buy the Gazelle or Falcon and head for a weekend in the Empty Quarter without a second thought. On road, the inside tyres of our Gazelle X rubbed on the guards as it rolled through roundabouts and it needs more braking distance than conventional SUVs on road tyres, although it felt perfectly at home in the sand.
The extra fuel you would imagine it uses due to the added weight and wind resistance is compensated by a modified fifth gear overdrive for the manual along with taller diff ratios. With the snorkel fitted and it carrying a four-inch lift kit, the Gazelle X has a staggering 1,500mm wading depth which is more than double the standard Toyota Land Cruiser’s 700mm claim.
On the test cars, the Falcon’s interior featured timber capped finishings and dual-zone air conditioning whereas the Gazelle X came with a basic AM-FM stereo and regular AC, with the seats trimmed in a unique tan-on-black leather with gazelle motifs on the head rests.
I’d forgotten what driving a proper off-roader was like in the soft UAE desert sand without the electronic safety nets that are standard in nearly everything these days. Powered by the venerable 4.8-litre, inline six-cylinder engine, the Patrol develops 280 horsepower and 341Nm of torque running through the old-school five-speed manual, with a manually operated selector for 2WD, 4WD high-range and 4WD low-range. From behind the wheel it doesn’t get much simpler than this.
The popular Y61 Patrol felt right at home with its basic mechanicals and single-minded body kit. With mountains of torque, it plugged along in second or third gear and if the sand caught the wheels, a quick shift to low-range plucked it free again. No computer chips required.
Assembled and validated in the UAE based on ASMA guidelines, Nissan assures that the Patrol Gazelle and Falcon models pass all RTA requirements for the options fitted. So in that sense you’re covered and what’s more, if you’re prepared to pay the price your retro Y61 will be the star attraction on the dunes.
2019 Nissan Patrol Gazelle X
4.8-litre inline six-cylinder engine | five-speed manual transmission, all-wheel drive | 280 horsepower and 341Nm of torque | AED293,000