It looks like an old timer but keen observers will notice a new, more modern front end, a better engine and modern touches to bring the Patrol into the 21st Century. Much like its Land Cruiser rival, the Patrol relies on a rugged exterior, a simplistic interior and strong oily bits to attract the budding farmer or 4x4 enthusiasts.
With over 60 years of heritage, the Patrol has quite a bit to live up to from all of the stories I’ve heard. I may have looked like a farmer for a week but at least I was a farmer with Bluetooth, USB, airconditioning, electric windows, two airbags and thankfully, ABS brakes.
The mechanics are certainly up to scratch. There’s a new 3.0-litre turbo diesel engine with 110kW/371Nm under the bonnet which is coupled with a trusty five-speed gearbox. Filling the Patrol will hurt. Its sub-tank takes 175 litres which, with a claimed fuel figure of 10.9 litres/100km, gives it over 1 600km of range.
Don’t expect the epitome of refinement as this is a proper scruff-of-the-neck off-roader with a loud diesel grunt reverberating through the cabin while the long throws and hard shifts from the gearbox let you know that this is a workhorse. The ride is quite bouncy at low speed and around town, but everything calms down on the open road and the Patrol is actually pleasant to drive. I seriously doubt whether a Patrol driver would use the car for an urban commute in any case, and in places where it matters, such as on gravel roads, it does the job well.
The single-cab Pickup has all the old school 4x4 systems one would expect from a hardcore off-roader. The refreshingly familiar lever beside the gear knob allows you to select between three modes for the vehicle’s four-wheel-drive system while there’s a switch for the differential lock.
It has a regular two-wheel-drive setting for road conditions, a 4x4 setting for dirt and gravel roads as well as a 4x4 low-range mode which also features a selectable rear diff-lock and manual hub-locks for those extreme off-road situations. There are also better tyres on the new model along with wider rear tracks.
Having taken the car off-road extensively and subsequently getting stuck in what seemed like a marsh I can say that the low-range, diff-lock and grippy tyres do a great job getting you out of trouble. I also managed to climb and descend a few very steep inclines without the vehicle’s underbody ever touching the terrain and showing the vehicle’s superb break-over and departure angles.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the Patrol; it’s such an honest vehicle, and while driving it, you do get the impression it will last forever - which it probably will. If you’re looking for an honest, basic and brutally rugged off-road vehicle then look no further than this...or the Toyota Land Cruiser.
Patrol Pick-up 3.0D 4x4 5MT retails for R476 900 and comes with a three-year/ 100 000km warranty and service intervals of 15 000km.