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Nissan set for Patrol Warrior

War games: Our artist’s impression of how Nissan’s Patrol N-Trek Warrior might look.

Navara N-Trek Warrior ute success paves way for worked-over Nissan Patrol SUV

11 Feb 2020

NISSAN Australia managing director Stephen Lester has all but confirmed that the Japanese brand’s ‘Warrior’ treatment is set to expand beyond its range-topping dual-cab ute to the Patrol flagship SUV.


In an interview with GoAuto last week at a first drive event for the updated Patrol and other SUVs, Mr Lester said the Navara N-Trek Warrior was essentially the stage one, proof-of-concept for what could be achieved with a modified, multipurpose vehicle – lifted and revamped suspension, broader tracks, off-road tyres, sports-focused styling – and that Patrol is the logical next step.


“We’ve got a blank slate with the new Patrol in terms of what we think we can do,” said Mr Lester.


“And Navara Warrior and the work that the CMM (chief marketing management) team did, and Nissan Australia, was getting that product over the line … demonstrating already this very significant level of capability here within our market that can’t be debated (and) would help us validate other projects as we go into the future.”


Despite having previously told GoAuto that ‘Warrior’ could also be interpreted as ‘urban warrior’, and may be suited to vehicles other than those with genuine off-road capability at some point, Mr Lester is certain of what ‘Warrior’ means to Nissan in 2020.


In terms of the nameplates that best suit its ethos, he has now  made it clear: “I think there are two that make obvious sense right now – Navara and then Patrol.”


“In so long as we want to make the off-road capability part of (the Warrior) package, then that makes sense. Patrol offers us the opportunity to also go into that ‘lifestyle warrior’ trend, if you will,” he said.


“There’s no shortage of vehicles on the market today that, whilst having 4WD capability, haven’t seen a gravel patch once in their lives and spend all of their time navigating busy urban streets between any one of the major urban centres in Australia.


“So I think there are two very clear, different target groups that (a Warrior model) can be oriented at.”


Nissan already has global experience fettling the current Y62 Patrol. A Desert Edition was unveiled in the Middle East in 2015, featuring wheelarch extensions, underbody skid plates, an on-board tyre inflator (for reinflation after off-roading excursions) and custom ‘bead-lock’ wheels that enable the high-profile off-road tyres to be used at extremely low pressures without peeling off the rim.


Nissan has also marketed a Y62 Patrol Nismo in the Middle East, featuring an uprated version of the VK56VD 5.6-litre direct-injection V8 punching out 319kW (instead of 298kW) at 5800rpm and the same 560Nm of torque as the regular Patrol, though lower down the rev range (3600rpm).


While all that sets a precedent for a Patrol Warrior version, Mr Lester is leaving the door open for what could be achieved with the help of Premcar – the Melbourne-based automotive engineering outfit run by former Prodrive engineer Bernie Quinn, who helped develop Navara Warrior.


“I would actually stop asking, ‘Well, is the Nismo engine option (for Patrol) available?’ (and instead ask) ‘What else is there, how much further can we go?” said Mr Lester, pointing to the potential of the Australian operation.


“I can’t speculate on all the things that could be done but certainly there is a lot of opportunity with it. And that’s why we see the future for Patrol so optimistically,” he said.


“This is something we’ll work on with the global team, obviously respect the necessity to follow a strict protocol because we’re not about to bring product to market that would in any way, shape or form not live up to Nissan’s very strong, reputable brand name and, more importantly, that customers will be happy and satisfied with their purchase.


“That’s a really critical point and, fundamentally, that’s the reason for the longevity of bringing (a model like Patrol Warrior) to market. We worked on (Navara) Warrior for over 12 months from the sort of ‘on the back of a napkin in a meeting’ to a discussion on what we could do, to the procurement process, to getting Bernie and the team at Premcar on to the program, and then actually building it.


“Getting (Navara Warrior) to the Premcar stage didn’t actually take that long in the grand scheme of things, but it just doesn’t come to market overnight.


“So we feel that with that proof point (the Navara Warrior) being physically on sale and being well accepted, now we’ve got a validation point to go back and say. ‘See? Okay.’


“If we use (the Navara Warrior) as the base model for what we would think of doing (going forward), let’s talk about what’s next. What do those other horizons look like and how do we do it?”


Despite Patrol having just ticked over seven years on the Australian market, Mr Lester remains buoyant about the newly refreshed sixth-generation model’s possibilities and sales potential, even as it approaches the end of its life.


“It’s really important for us to continue to grow share in this segment (upper-large SUVs). There’s no question we’ve got a lot of potential ground to make up, and there’s a lot of opportunity in that,” he said.


“I would say certainly that we will look to opportunities that we have, either with global special editions that are driven by the global team and as well work with opportunities that we may be able to create for ourselves locally here in Australia to offer alternate (Patrol) variants.”


But as with Navara Warrior, Mr Lester is adamant that the next Nissan to receive ‘Warrior’ branding will need to be the real deal.


“What’s important at the end of the day, what we refused to compromise on Navara Warrior, was that we can’t have it not do what we say it’s going to do. It has to live up to that in every single way, shape or form,” he said.


“Putting a decal kit on it, and a non-full-size spare, and a plastic bash plate – all these sorts of cosmetic things are going to be seen through by the real audience for that vehicle … and that guided a lot of the decision-making behind (the Warrior concept).


“Fortunately, with the support of Premcar, I think we’ve got a great partner that has helped us build that.”

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