PASSION FOR PERFORMANCE
The word “Nismo” may evoke a small Mediterranean village but for the uninitiated, the badge is reserved for products at the pinnacle of Japanese engineering. Abbreviated from “Nissan Motorsport International Limited”, Nismo is Nissan’s in-house motorsports and performance division, which has been churning out the carmaker’s most unrestrained contraptions for more than three decades. With a (literal) track record in both the epic 24 Hours of Le Mans and 24 Hours of Daytona, the Tokyo-based engineers have proven their chops for both racing and durability, so when it was announced they would turn their attention from the GTR to the Patrol, there was quite a response.
MIDDLE EASTERN PROMISE
You want exclusivity? The Patrol Nismo is Nissan’s love letter to the Middle East. Quite how Japanese carmakers have dominated the Arabian Desert is an entire essay in itself, but glance left and right anywhere in the Emirates to see scores of Pajeros, Land Cruisers and the classic tradesman’s Hilux. The Patrol is even more entwined in UAE culture as a frequent choice of cop car – for when a Ferrari or Bugatti just won’t cut it – so it’s no surprise that Nissan HQ saw an opportunity to satisfy Khaleeji spendthrifts with something just a little bit more spectacular. And the fact that Nissan lovers around the world have been lamenting the exclusive UAE release will no doubt mean there will be some smug Instagram posts in the works.
BEYOND THE BADGE
Under the hood is the standard 5.6-litre V8 you’ll find in any Patrol, but those eight valves have seen some TLC from the same mechanical wizards who handmade every GT-R engine that’s emerged from the Yokahama factory. That’s resulted in the power of 428 (potentially Arabian) horses, which is a modest improvement of 28hp, along with improved handling and additional Bilstein shock absorbers. But it’s fair to say, for the money, the vast majority of the nips and tucks are cosmetic. Whatever bears the Nismo badge has to maintain the reputation of luxury, with two-tone contrasted leather upholstery and light leather detailing around the central console, juxtaposed with a peculiar choice of a dark grey veneer and the pop-of-red theme is continued inside and out, from the rev continue to the ignition and skirting the exterior.
All photos by Haitham El Shazly
With such a chunky and muscular shell you’d feel safe from Godzilla himself, but the car’s tank-like qualities are paired with baby-on-board comfort. The standout element of the build quality is the seats themselves with nothing truly remarkable about the console or the on-board tech, but you’ll get your dirhams’ worth for the tactile pleasure. We decided to cruise on and off road with a jaunt from Dubai – deftly weaving and pirouetting through traffic – to the gravelly hillsides of Fujairah. With the turn of a dial, the car slips into four-wheel drive mode, and another tap primes the car for rockier terrain, like a mechanical oryx that’s been designed by a Japanese anime illustrator. The ride is cosy, bordering on smug-inducing, and the intelligent cruise control is ideal for UAE cruising, as it adapts to the speed of the car in front, seeming fully aware of the maniacal drivers who’ll approach on either flank.
WHAT'S THAT IN THE CORNER?
The elite 4x4 has arrived in time for another Nissan reveal: the “Nismo Corner”. The dedicated showrooms will be rolled out first in the Middle East and then later across Nissan dealerships worldwide, showcasing the company’s high-performance vehicles, another tip of the hat to the Middle East as a “a significant growth market” for Nissan. Not my words but those of the regional MD. The brand is clearly pushing the envelope with customer experience and performance in tandem and the fact that seven dealerships across the Gulf will have dedicated NISMO Corners means we can surely expect to see a host of other special editions being unveiled in the near future – so let’s hope we get our hands on those first too.
NUTS & BOLTS:
Engine: 5.6-litre V8
Power: 428 hp
0-100 kph: 6 sec (est.)
Top speed: 249.5 kph (est.)
Price: US$ 100,470 (in the UAE)