The "real" off-road vehicle is no longer a Willis or an UAZ, but it is undoubtedly a solid car with a frame, dependent suspensions front and rear, a roomy body and, perhaps, a diesel engine. Such as Nissan Patrol GR / Nissan Patrol.
But now other solutions have become popular: permanent all-wheel drive, independent suspension of all wheels, pneumatic struts for changing ground clearance, a carrying body and a convertible interior. The Volkswagen Tuareg and the Land Rover Discovery 3 went along this path, although the latter did not abandon a separate frame. Is the time for classic SUVs over?
Nissan Patrol - A HISTORICAL HERITAGE
The car has recently changed appearance, but its essence has remained the same. The Patrol driver will not have to turn to electronic devices - the front axle and lower gear are activated by an additional lever on the transmission tunnel. Even the automatic couplings of the front wheels have a forced locking position - any automation can freeze, break and fail to work for a dozen reasons, and with the mechanics in any case you will not be left without all-wheel drive.
There is also a mechanical lock in the rear axle - no limited slip differentials capable of only road “exploits”. It is "by definition" needed on long-base all-terrain vehicles, prone to diagonal hanging. However, hanging up a Nissan Patrol GR / Patrol is not so easy - a detachable anti-roll bar gives an additional “degree of freedom” to the rear axle, but only up to 20 km / h - until it affects handling.
Winter Moscow streets are cleared, but in the yards there is snow and ice ruts are rolled out. We leave onto the street with busy traffic on the rear-wheel drive - with a rigidly connected front, turning at right angles is poorly given on a hard surface. The gap between the cars in the stream is wide, but not enough to delay.
The rear wheels slip into a slip, but instead of a frisky start, the Nissan Patrol GR / Patrol lazily creeps out onto the road. It’s too late to refuse the maneuver - mentally apologize to those who were forced to slow down. Next time we will start on all-wheel drive. By the way, the “full or rear” dilemma will once again arise on the highway, when a tall parapet of snow will have to be overcome between the rolled strips of asphalt, leaving for overtaking.
Despite its solid size, Nissan Patrol GR / Nissan Patrol feels confident in city streets: the turning radius is small and the impressive rectangular hood gives the driver a clear idea of the dimensions. The back view is worse - the wiper is only on one door leaf, and the sector it is cleaning is small.
The impressive dimensions of the Patrol do not guarantee space in the workplace. A large and broad-shouldered driver fits here without much comfort. The seat is all the way back, but the shoulder is rested in the body post - this is how a person looks like he is 195 cm tall and weighs 130 kg. The 185/100 driver is better, although he complains about cramped spaces. Only the “standard” 176/72 is posted without comment. No wonder - the body was developed almost ten years ago.
With a solid weight, Nissan Patrol GR / Nissan Patrol can accelerate briskly. But spinning the engine above 4000 rpm makes no sense, acceleration is weakening long before this line. It is difficult to make a mistake with the choice of gear - the lever has a large stroke and a clear inclusion, however, switching quickly is not so easy. On the icy road, the Nissan in the rear-wheel drive version easily breaks into a skid with a sharp gas supply. But thanks to the long base and large mass, the process develops slowly, and it is easy to extinguish at the very beginning. With the front end connected, the Nissan Patrol GR / Patrol gets the stability of the locomotive and its slowness - standard behavior for a car without a center differential.
A lot has been said about the phenomenal energy intensity of Nissan suspensions. At the same time, the car does not seem tough, although a share of its abilities is enough for the most severe road waves. However, there is no escape from the feeling of unsprung masses, and the concussion of bridges on rough potholes is literally felt by the body. Fortunately, these fluctuations do not reach the driver’s hands - they are absorbed by the power steering and damper in the steering.
A road covered with a 40-centimeter layer of snow, on which no one has driven since the fall, is waiting for us to assess the patency of the car. It’s impossible to overcome the virgin lands in the first low gear - we dig in. The second thing is better if you maintain the engine speed between 2500 and 3500. It is worth dropping the speed, as a diesel engine with a manual transmission withers, forcing to retreat and again punching the road. More loose snow allows you to switch to third gear and move much faster. In the deepest places, we block the rear differential and again we hit the track - pushing the impressive snow shaft in front of the car is too much for the car. In such conditions, the bumper acts as a kind of indicator - if the snow is above the license plate, it is impossible to overcome it in any mode.
An attempt to enter “from acceleration” - and … the car sits firmly, stubbornly slipping with three wheels (there is no blockage in the front axle). But there were no problems with pulling out - the rear has an excellent towing eye, and a powerful hook in front of the bumper.
Volkswagen Touareg - TECHNOLOGY CELEBRATION
First of all, the body is in the upper position - and under the car. Is the ground clearance of 300 mm? What did Stanislavsky say (though for a different reason)? The result is interesting - in the center of the car under the concave shield protecting the engine compartment from dirt, it’s really 300 mm, but under the side members - 275. The secret is simple - according to German standards, ground clearance is measured on an arc connecting the wheels and the lower part of the car. In our case, any detail located from the wheel further than 100 mm is counted, so we will consider official 275 mm. However, this is great! The angles of entry and exit are also considerable.
Strictly speaking, the Volkswagen Tuareg with conventional and air suspension are two completely different cars. The latter can adjust the ride height, maintain the level of the body regardless of the load, and also change the damping of the shock absorbers (“sport” / “comfort” / “auto” positions). The differences in settings are easily noticeable: in a comfortable car, it does not pay attention to minor irregularities, but reacts to the steering wheel with a noticeable delay. Sports - make Tuareg copy the profile of the road, but add responsiveness. However, the most important thing is the ability to adjust the ride height within 140 mm (+85 mm / –55 mm). This gives a good increase in cross-country ability and even a gain in the "maximum speed" - a car with air suspension is 5 km / h faster than its "spring" brother with the same engine - due to the "squat" at high speed.
For this test, we wanted to get a 2.5-liter diesel engine with air suspension, but could not get one. When choosing "air suspension or diesel?" Suspension seemed more interesting. Formally, the diesel "Tuareg" is the most affordable, but the cost of additional equipment for such a machine is higher than for gasoline. So, the most expensive position - air suspension with ride height control - costs $ 3, 530 for a diesel car versus $ 3, 240 for a gasoline one. It is no coincidence that the gasoline V6 has become a favorite among buyers.
The interior of the "Tuareg" in German is strict and impeccably functional. The seat adjustment range is suitable for owners of the most impressive figures, and at the same time, the designers did not sacrifice the space in the back seat. True, unlike its competitors, Volkswagen does not offer a seven-seater option.
Reseeding the “Tuareg” steering wheel from a small car, you feel its solidity in every movement, but against the background of rivals it seems quite light, despite 2.3 tons of curb weight. After all, rivals exceeded 2.5 tons!
Volkswagen did not grieve on a slippery track. During handling exercises, the built-in ESP did not allow the drift to develop, successfully “tucking” us into the rotation by selective braking of the wheels. However, with the electronics turned off, it’s quite possible to frolic. Just remember that side gliding is not at all alien to a solid car.
The time to "raise virgin soil" has come for the Tuareg too - we select a lower gear with a center differential lock, the suspension is in the "OFF ROAD" position. Now under the protection of the engine compartment 255 mm.
Under the same conditions as the rivals, the Tuareg moves well, only occasionally demanding to return in order to overcome a stretch of deeper snow from acceleration. We act carefully - there are no problems, but if we accelerate more, the Tuareg cannot return with its own power. But it is too early to grab the cable and the shovel - we move the suspension to the highest position and we are released without assistance.
"Automatic" with a manual mode in the snow for the benefit - you can precisely select the driving mode depending on the resistance. Forced to drive a pre-selected gear, Nissan Patrol GR / Patrol does not keep pace.
LAND Rover Discovery 3 - A LONG TRADITION!
For a long time the design was built on the same chassis as the first-generation Range Rover - a massive frame, a V8 engine leading the pedigree from the Buick, a dependent suspension and a 100-inch wheelbase. The English school of off-road vehicles had its own canons - blocking only the center differential and huge wheel moves. It will not be a great exaggeration to say that the first "discovery" could cross axes at almost 45 degrees. True, they showed by no means brilliant manners on the highway.
Today, the owner of the Land Rover is Ford, and the current Discovery has become similar in design to the large Explorer and Expedition off-road vehicles - it has a separate frame with independent wheel suspension. More than $ 1 billion was spent on the development of the third Discovery. The task was not only to transfer the “Land Rover” style to the new platform, but also to prepare the basis for new company developments.
The appearance of Discovery 3 is in stark contrast to most classmates: large flat surfaces, strict lines and faces - the techno style at its best. Its advantage is durability: even after a decade, the car will remain original and memorable. At the same time, all Land Rover branded elements, including the stepped roof line, are preserved.
There is more logic inside, but the Land Rover is also recognizable. "Commander" landing, puffy (even excessively) "bagel", many shelves and pockets on the front panel …. The driver's seat is not the largest adjustment in length, but huge in height - even with modest growth, you can support the ceiling with your head. The seat cushion is too horizontal - you crawl from it with a high landing. But the review is great.
On the go, Discovery attracts not only with its good dynamics, despite its mass, but also with an unexpectedly quiet engine. It is possible to guess that diesel is under the hood only when it is started or outside the car (according to the nameplate). The motor in combination with a six-speed “automatic” perfectly copes with the busy city traffic, and with overtaking on the highway. The DSC Electronic Stabilization System helps maintain directional stability. For cornering in a drift, it can be turned off, but this does not give complete control over the traction.
In general, comfort is the key word in the Discovery feature. The car was built not for the fun of vanity, but for moving from one point to another. What if we do not lay this path on asphalt?
In “high spirits”, the ground clearance of “Discovery 3” is limited to 230 mm under the exhaust system near the rear wheels. The full-size spare tire also hangs low, but an impressive 270 mm under the front axle. In the middle position of the suspension, the ground clearance of the Land Rover is only 185 mm - not a lot!
Discovery virgin snow is hard to come by - it’s quite capable of moving along the track laid by rivals, but building one’s own is an impossible task. Trying to break into the lead with overclocking is also doomed to failure. Back to the track - only on the cable. By the way, it is not easy to attach it - the towing eyes are hidden under plastic covers with rotating locks. You can turn them off with a screwdriver or a coin, but in the cold we broke two locks …
The highlight of the four-wheel drive transmission “Discovery” is in the Terrain-Respons system: it automatically adjusts the transmission to different conditions: asphalt, snow / ice, dirt, sand, rough terrain. By the way, what to include knee-deep in virgin snow, guess? Sand mode! It is he who better than others allows you to move with a controlled slip. At the same time, a warning appears on the dashboard and a desire to use the appropriate suspension level, direct or low (2.93!) Transmission. Do you still think it's easier than two levers and a pair of buttons?
Saturation with electronics is welcomed, but so far there are obviously glitches in the machine software. In our instance, the automatic wiper blades did not want to turn off until the car stopped completely, and slipping in the snow ignited an engine malfunction signal, which, however, went out after an hour …
The Discovery Salon requires a separate story - the transformation capabilities are so diverse that even a simple listing will take up too much space. In short - the seats of not only the third, but also the second row are fully or individually folded, forming a flat floor. The complaints are rather related to the contour of the seats and the low height of the pillows. They are difficult to explain, since the dimensions of the cabin and doorways do not impose restrictions. There is even room for a luggage rack curled into a roll.
So, the Land Rover finally became an aristocrat, Nissan Patrol GR / Nissan Patrol lost to Volkswagen Tuareg in deep snow … What should a real jeep do - shoot? Buy UAZ Patriot? No, life is not over until the iron bumpers with winches, spacers, high springs, long shock absorbers and toothy “thirty-third” wheels have disappeared. Guess which trinity this outfit is suitable for?
The sixth generation of the car is produced since 1999. Last modernization - in 2004.
Engines: 4.8 L petrol (245 hp), 3.0 L turbo diesel (160 hp)
Transmissions: 5-speed automatic for a gasoline engine, 4-speed automatic and 5-speed manual for a diesel engine.
Options: Luxury and Elegance.
Price: $ 50, 300–63, 500.
Nissan Patrol - an unsurpassed car for heavy roads and not the worst "trucker". But still look at the car with the "automatic" …
+ Proven design, spacious interior, large trunk, high cross-country ability, protected units, high energy consumption and suspension moves, rich standard equipment.
- Limited ride, plug-in all-wheel drive, suboptimal engine performance, poor visibility back, lack of “working” equipment in the Russian market.
It has been produced since 2002.
Engines: gasoline 3.2–6.0 liters (241–450 hp), turbodiesels 2.5–5.0 liters (174–313 hp).
Transmissions: 6-speed manual (for 3.2 l and 2.5d), in other cases a 6-speed automatic.
Options: individual choice.
Price: from $ 47, 000.
Volkswagen Touareg is a jack of all trades. Good in the city, on the highway and does not give up on the road. I wonder how reliable it is?
+ Excellent road behavior, adjustable ride and clearance, individual equipment, excellent six-speed "automatic", high traffic in snow and ruts.
- Extremely expensive additional equipment, no full-size spare wheel, limited possibilities for transforming the cabin, modest basic equipment.
LAND Rover Discovery 3
The Discovery model appeared in 1989, since 1998 they released the second generation, the third debuted in the spring of 2004 in New York.
Engines: 4.4 liter petrol (295 hp), 2.7 liter turbodiesel (190 hp).
Transmissions: 6-speed manual (diesel only) or 6-speed automatic.
Options: S (diesel only), SE and HSE.
Price: $ 52, 900 - $ 71, 900.
Land Rover Discovery 3 - Legends delivered to the library. But the style will definitely survive until all-terrain vehicles in Europe are completely banned …
+ High smoothness, spacious transformable interior, low noise, catchy appearance, powerful high-torque diesel engine, good visibility.