Introduced towards the end of 1951, the Nissan 4W60 — later named Patrol — had a relatively slow start. But over the decades, helped by the much improved G60, the MQ, and the GQ iterations, the Patrol nameplate established itself as a badge to be reckoned with among off-road enthusiasts. However, it was the fifth-generation Y61 version that truly cemented its now legendary status as a go anywhere, do anything utility vehicle. While it was popular in markets such as Australia and South America too, in the Middle East, the Nissan Patrol almost became an integral part of the landscape. This was especially so here in the UAE. The Y61 Patrol Safari was so popular among the country’s off-roading enthusiasts that it was safe at the time to assume that it would only evolve at a pace similar to that of the Mercedes Gelandewagen. It seemed too good to be altered, and was etched into the collective psyche of the region’s dune-bashers.
However, as rival brands started churning out capable SUVs loaded with luxury trappings that appealed as much to the affluent city driver as it did to the daring explorer, the Safari started looking archaic. The modern, comfortable, luxurious, and sophisticated Y62 interpretation of the legendary Patrol was launched in 2010, complete with a new platform, a design overhaul, an interior that oozed luxury, a new V8 engine, a seven-speed automatic transmission and a new, more capable four-wheel drive system. Sales figures show that was a wise decision, but what seemed a wiser decision to Patrol aficionados was the one taken by the Japanese carmaker to keep the Y61 in production alongside the new version.
The Super Safari, introduced in 2016, is a trim line of the Y61 that is specific to the Middle East. While it essentially remains the same for the 2021 model year, a few tweaks and additions here and there have made sure it remains suitably updated. These include three new colour combinations, with a black exterior colour option joining the existing white and gold body colours. Also available as an option is a new gold accent across the roof, bumpers and spare tyre cover as an alternative to the dual tone accent from previous models, letting owners create the combination of their choice. The classic ‘Super Safari’ decal along the side of the car has also got a subtle refresh. New 17-inch alloy wheels with a ‘diamond cut’ pattern and black paint rounds out the exterior upgrades.
The interiors of the 2021 Super Safari have also been updated with new tan leather and cloth options to choose from. If you choose the tan leather option, the seats come with a special Super Safari embossing. A new 8-inch display and audio system with Apple Carplay add a touch of modernity to the otherwise delectably utilitarian cabin.
The rest of the good-old Safari remains the same. The 4.8-litre inline six-cylinder mated to five-speed automatic is superbly capable, refined and smooth on- and off-road. While an adventure-oriented three-door variant is still available, the five-door model is as practical and comfortable as any modern SUV and is still a great family car. It can easily seat seven passengers thanks to the two foldout cargo-area seats, which are also reasonably comfortable. It also comes equipped with automatic climate control and a built-in cool box, making it an ideal companion for impulsive detours into the wilderness with family or friends.
And the rough country brings the best out of the Super Safari, with its straight-line drive transfer allowing on-the-fly shifting from 2WD to 4WD with just one shift of a lever. The navigation system, rear locking differential, front and rear-pintle tow hooks as well as front and rear parking sensors with rear view camera make sure you are ready for anything that the mountains, the desert or the back woods throw at you. Stability control and a tyre-pressure monitor are standard, as are dual front airbags, ABS, an immobiliser and cruise control.
A single model lasting six decades and still going strong is no mean feat. Not more than a handful of cars have managed to achieve this in the history of automobiles. And even as the Patrol nameplate keeps evolving in its successive iterations, if Nissan chooses to keep the Y61 going with periodic updates, there will still be takers. And they will tell you why this is one of the best SUVs on sale today.