2023 Nissan Patrol Warrior – First drive

By Toby Hagon 13 Min Read

It’s not often Aussies can chat about local manufacturing any more, but the Nissan Patrol Warrior is one of those rare occasions where some Australian ingenuity has made a car better.


Its mix of clever engineering and design updates have added some rugged life to the ageing but loved-more-than-ever Y62 Patrol to the point where it carves a big stake in the (rocky) ground.

The heart of the Warrior remains unchanged. It still uses a 5.6-litre V8 housed in one of the biggest SUV bodies in the business. It still gets independent suspension front and rear bolted to a ladder frame chassis. And it’s still lacking some of the tech we’ve come to expect in modern cars.

But there have been wholesale changes to design and suspension that transform the sensible family SUV to something of a rally raid machine with rough roads and rugged tracks in its crosshairs.

Starting at the bottom

The Patrol Warrior starts life as a Ti Patrol before being heavily modified by Premcar in Melbourne’s north; the company is known for making fast Fords, including the FPV models that were used to fight the might of HSV.

By using the Patrol Ti it means the Warrior misses out on niceties such as a Bose sound system and sunroof.

But it gets eight seats (Ti-L models get seven) and a front bumper with a more aggressive approach angle.


Crucially, though, the Ti does without roof rails. Premcar says that allows for a suspension lift while allowing the car to make it into suburban car parks … assuming the owner doesn’t go bolting a roof platform on after taking delivery, of course (many will!).

It looks different

The Patrol Warrior gets a fresh look courtesy of tweaked bumpers at either end. The core of the bumpers remain, but additional cutouts and blacked-out elements add some visual depth while improving the approach angle further. The “Warrior” branding imprinted on the lower front bumper wings at each corner is a nice touch, too.

Plus, those new bumpers make for a more aggressive look, although some will no doubt want more. There’s also the question of a bullbar, but given Nissan doesn’t offer a factory bar the Warrior program didn’t justify the investment in something that would require significant safety engineering and compliance; so that bit is left to the aftermarket.

Elsewhere there are black highlights in lieu of chrome. However, the window surrounds and vents on the front guards maintain the shiny silver look.

Some underbody protection up front and a couple of 3.5-tonne-rated recovery points at the rear add to the off-road talent.

More serious rock rails were considered, but they would have required a recertification of the Patrol’s side impact protection; instead owners can make that change themselves with aftermarket components.

The Patrol Warrior will be offered in four colours: silver, white, grey and black.

Higher and mightier

The Patrol Warrior retains its core chassis geometry, which means independent suspension front and rear.

It also retains the Hydraulic Motion Body Control (HMBC), which does without the need for stabiliser bars, instead using fluid in a cross-vehicle system that connects all four wheels to control body movement. Computer control can counter big fore-aft and sideways movements for a more planted ride.


However, Premcar has raised the suspension by 50mm, something that required significant retuning and engineering of the HMBC system.

There are bespoke valve and shim assemblies and redesigned shock casings that now look a lot fancier.

New progressive rate springs have three different windings to provide different stiffnesses at different loads. They’re painted red to add to the Warrior status.

Combined with those retuned dampers, the initial spring response is designed to be softer in an effort to maintain ride compliance while two firmer stages throughout the springs’ travel account for heavier loads (including towing) and harder hits.

Make some noise

One of the coolest elements of the Warrior is the side exit exhaust that peeps from under the back door on the driver’s side.

It has been attached to the original exhaust system to provide added aural muscle.

On light throttle inputs and when cruising a flap is closed to divert all gases through the Patrol’s standard exhaust. 

Accelerate harder and a flap opens, sending the exhaust out the side with a far louder grumble and the occasional bark.

It’s a clever but effective way of getting a throatier roar while maintaining the existing emissions and noise control hardware. Plus it makes country cruising no louder than it is in a garden variety Patrol.

Every inch counts

But it’s the tyres that make a big difference to the Warrior look. Engineers opted for the biggest tyre that would fit on the Patrol chassis without requiring major changes elsewhere.

While Premcar evaluated Cooper and BFG rubber, it was Yokohama that won out for the Warrior.

They’re chunky Yokohama Geolandar GO15s in a light truck construction. Engineers also evaluated the GO16s and concede they’re a better tyre off-road, but said “the trade off with noise is pretty bad”.

The tyre size has grown from 265/70 18 on a garden variety Patrol to 295/70 18 on the Warrior. That makes them a 34.4-inch application, one that has been fitted while recalibrating the speedo so it maintains its accuracy.

The new hoops are fitted to wheels with a 20mm wider offset, so the footprint is 40mm broader, something that necessitated some bespoke wheel arch flares. 

Engineers also redesigned the tow bar so the same rubber could fit on the rear of the car.

Weighty stuff

Those tyres also account for a fair chunk of the 72kg added as part of the Warrior upgrades.

But with a 130kg GVM upgrade it means the payload is 58kg better in a Warrior than it is in a standard Patrol. All up it’ll carry 843kg.

The Warrior can also still tow the same 3500kg of other Patrols, too.

There’s no hiding its overall bulk, though. The Warrior tips the scales at 2787kg, some of which is fuel in the unchanged 140-litre tank.

Inside has stepped up too

Forget the chintzy fake wood that has long graced the cabin of a Y62.

Premcar has replaced it with a charcoal-coloured suede-like finish that seriously lifts the cabin ambience. The Warrior branding is stamped into the passenger side.

There are also gloss black finishes through the centre console, maintaining the more modern theme.

But there’s only so much you can do with fresh trim and finishes.

The Y62 Patrol’s ageing tech is still on display elsewhere.

That means analogue gauges and a 8.0-inch screen that looks undernourished in the modern era. That screen also lacks the latest smartphone connectivity, instead making Bluetooth the most advanced way to pair the car and phone.

So, what’s the Patrol Warrior like off-road?

Our first taste of the Warrior was a million miles away (almost…) from the vast outback plains and rugged country tracks we suspect it will be at home on.

Instead, it was limited to the confines of the Mount Cotton driver training facility in Queensland.

There are some undulating trails through nearby bushland, some of which had the 34.4-inch wheels scrabbling for traction.

Nothing’s changed with the Warrior’s traction control calibration, which can take a moment to apply brakes to those wheels that are spinning.

Activating the rear diff lock and locking the drive between front and rear swiftly solves those traction issues.

Cruising through those gravelly tracks keeps the flaps on the side exit pipes closed, so it sounds as muted as any other Patrol.

But open it up on the smooth bitumen circuit that snakes around the Mount Cotton facility and it’s a far more engaging aural experience. The otherwise unchanged 5.6-litre V8 sounds terrific, its full 298kW and 560Nm ensuring brisk progress.

While the official fuel figure remains at 14.4 litres per 100km, the tyres alone will mean the Warrior will use more premium unleaded than regular Patrols. In the real world expect to use more than the government claim.

The bigger AT tyres provide extra confidence pounding into rocks and tree roots. Those big tread blocks also bite more convincingly into loose gravel.

There’s still decent articulation for clambering over uneven ground, although it’s not as LC300 levels. And you’ll still feel the bumps, although the Warrior also has enough compression for everyday comfort.

What’s it like on-road?

On bitumen the additional height is nicely countered by the wider spacing of the wheels, helping the bit Patrol maintain its cornering poise.

There are limits, of course, and ultimately the best part of three tonnes overwhelms the Geolandar rubber, which yelps in protest if you explore the limits.

But it’s all very composed and borderline fun. Rarely has three tonnes felt so chuckable.

Throw in that intoxicating exhaust sound when you get the V8 excited and it’s a worth upgrade to the regular Patrol.

What quickly became apparent, though, is that the Warrior works better at pace.

We’re looking forward to unleashing it on some higher speed gravel.

It’s a Nissan, sort of…

The Patrol Warrior is officially a converted vehicle, one engineered by an outfit with government compliance.

The Warrior does not have sign-off from Nissan head office in Japan but is instead endorsed by Nissan Australia.

Think of it as a modified vehicle designed to factory standards – and with the same backing of one that was manufactured wholly in a Nissan factory.

From a customer perspective the Patrol Warrior is like any other Nissan. It’s sold through a Nissan dealership and comes with a five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty. Parts and servicing support is provided by the 182-strong Nissan dealer network.


On sale: Now, but first deliveries start Q3 2023

Price: From about $100,000, plus on-road costs

Body: Large SUV

Length/width/height/wheelbase: TBA

Kerb weight: 2787kg

Gross vehicle mass (GVM): 3630kg

Gross combination mass (GCM): 6851kg

Payload: 843kg

Tow capacity: 3500kg

Dynamic roof load limit: 100kg

Engine: 5.6-litre V8, 298kW/560Nm 

Fuel tank capacity: 140 litres

Transmission: 7-speed auto

4WD system: Dual-range full-time 4×4

Tyres: Yokohama Geolandar GO15

Tyre size: 295/70 R18 (34.4 inches)

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