Although not reported on Drive as of yet, I’m sure many of you would have heard about Nissan’s new V6 turbo diesel, made out of pencil lead. Now I don’t know about you guys but in my experience, when writing with pencils as much time is spent cursing when the lead snaps as is actual, you know, writing. Fear not though, because what Nissan used to forge the engine block of their latest diesel creation is compacted graphite iron, not as I’d been worrying, pencil graphite. Compacted graphite iron is apparently lighter than iron but stronger than aluminium, and hence should be a well suited to a diesel block. The engine, dubbed V9X, is being introduced in the Navara and Pathfinder but thanks to Drive’s aversion to the mere notion of a bakkie, we’ll stick to the 4WD Pathfinder.
The Nissan Pathfinder 3.0 V6 dCI isn’t just an updated engine, the gearbox has been revised as well now sporting a seven speed automatic. The powertrain as a whole is very impressive on paper, taking the positive characteristics usually associated with diesel and amplifying them. In other words, the Pathfinder V9X is essentially a torque foundry, churning newtons out in prodigious numbers. Peak torque is 550Nm but an impressive 500Nm is available early on from 1500rpm. The peak of 55oNm isn’t far off of that either, available at 1750rpm, so you won’t have to wait too long to get your torque fix. Sadly though, this is still a diesel at the end of the day, and that means poor power and running out of puff far to soon. Power maxes out with 170kW at 3750rpm, but it does offer decent combined cycle fuel economy of 9.5L/100km. The ample supply of torque from low down means the Pathfinder does provide some imposing performance figures such as the ability to tow a very large 3500kg load, which should be enough for almost any situation, and a 0-100km/h time of 9.3s.
Actually driving this engine is surely more important than just producing torque, and in this regard Nissan do seem to have acknowledged that diesel can be exceedingly frustrating in some regards. Idle for instance is just 650rpm, basically meaning that when pulled up at a light you shouldn’t be assaulted too much by diesel clatter. Vibration will be reduced as a result as well, which shouldn’t be as much of a problem in an automatic anyway, as I’ve found the worst diesel vibration is often communicated through the gear lever and clutch pedal. The compression ratio has been lowered to 16:1, but still the engine returns superior noise, vibration and harshness results thanks to the compacted graphite iron construction and smoother components.
The Pathfinder is indeed designed with some off-road trundling in mind as opposed to many competitive SUV’s that really just claim to offer off road driving ability in the press release but in reality are hoping like hell you don’t even put it on gravel. There are various 4X4 modes, including HI and LO range as well as a dynamic all mode 4X4 system. This option adapts itself depending on the road surface selecting either 2WD or the HI/LO range.
Prices for the Pathfinder 3.0 V6 dCI start at R619 900, which is maybe a bit stiff, but still not that bad.
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