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Making them like they used to: UAZ Hunter, Nissan Patrol Super Safari & Toyota Land Cruiser 70

By Ghaith Madadha - Nov 27,2023 - Last updated at Nov 27,2023

Ever “softer” and car-like, more luxurious and exponentially complicated, modern SUVs have become more popular, but less capable, more fragile and have largely lost the authenticity and extensively rugged abilities the segment was previously known for. However, the breed is not completely extinct, with some manufacturers maintaining tough old school SUVs, including legacy models like the UAZ Hunter, and previous generation Nissan Patrol and Toyota Land Cruiser variants, alongside more modern successors.

 

UAZ Hunter

 

UAZ’s second best known vehicle, the Hunter is essentially a civilian version of the iconic Russian 469 military off-roader first introduced in 1972. Developed and improved incrementally since, the Hunter is powered by a more modern 2.7-litre petrol four-cylinder engine, mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox. Producing 133BHP at 4,600rpm and 160lb/ft at 2,500rpm, it yields 90 per cent of maximum torque over an accessibly wide 2,000-4,500rpm band, and achieves a 130km/h top speed.

A highly capable and uncompromising off-roader with stiff body-on-chassis construction and tough all-round live axle suspension with front coil springs for improved ride and wheel travel in front, and rugged rear leaf springs, the Hunter operates rear wheels on-road, but can engage four-wheel-drive and low gear ratios for difficult low traction off-road conditions. Riding with 210mm ground clearance, it boasts excellent off-road angles including a 50° approach, and 500mm water fording capability.

A practical and utilitarian 5-door SUV with 1,830-litre cargo capacity and a functional and un-pretentious cabin, the Hunter’s compact dimensions make it something of a mountain goat that easily negotiates narrow and demanding routes and trails. Available in hard- or soft-top versions, the Hunter range includes a more capable Expedition version with improved 241mm clearance, 235/85R16 off-road tyres, electric winch, bull-bar, bottom-hinged tailgate, modified wheel-arches, reinforced bumpers and running boards with two crossbeams.

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Engine: 2.7-litre, in-line 4-cylinders
  • Gearbox: 5-speed manual, four-wheel-drive
  • Drive-train: Low gear ratios, locking differential
  • Power, BHP (PS) [kW]: 133 (135) [99] @4,600rpm
  • Torque, lb/ft (Nm): 160 (217) @2,500rpm
  • Top speed: 130km/h
  • Length: 4,050mm
  • Width: 1,775mm
  • Height: 1,950mm
  • Wheelbase: 2,380mm
  • Track: 1,465mm
  • Ground clearance: 210mm
  • Wading depth: 500mm
  • Approach / ramp / departure angles: 50°/36°/39°
  • Weight: 1,760-1,845kg
  • Cargo capacity: 735-865kg
  • Suspension, F/R: Live axles, coil / leaf springs
  • Tyres: 225/75R16

 

 

Nissan Patrol Super Safari ‘Y61’

 

A Gulf motoring icon, the Nissan Patrol “Y61” generation first launched in 1997 and was re-introduced in the Middle East in 2017, alongside its Y62 successor. However, the Y61 never truly went away, and was available for fleet sales and in some markets throughout its 2010-2017 “wilderness years”. Ruggedly durable, thoroughly capable and very comfortable, its comeback was tailored for regional preferences and includes luxurious Super Safari, and in-house modified Gazelle variants.

Utilitarian yet indulgent in character, the Y61’s chunky and upright design, tough build quality and off-road ability go unchanged, but its spacious and homely cabin receives modern infotainment features. Also unchanged is its metaphorically “bullet proof” 4.8-litre naturally-aspirated straight six-cylinder engine and 5-speed automatic gearbox. Smooth and progressive in operation and low-revving and abundant in delivery, it develops 276BHP at 4,800rpm and 332lb/ft torque at 3,600rpm, in the generous “gross” rating system. 

Carrying its estimated 2.5-tonne mass at a reasonably brisk pace, the Y61 is a comfortable and relaxed on-road cruiser, dispatching long distances with a planted stability, forgiving ride, bank vault-like solidity and velvety refinement. In its element through inhospitable terrain, it rides with 215mm ground clearance and generous off-road angles, and benefits from a tough construction, while low gear ratios and a locking rear differential ensure progress over more extreme conditions.

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Engine: 4.8-litre, in-line 6-cylinders 
  • Gearbox: 5-speed automatic, four-wheel-drive
  • Drive-train: Low gear ratios, locking rear differential
  • Power, BHP (PS) [kW]: 276 (280) [205] @4,800rpm*
  • Torque, lb/ft (Nm): 332 (451) @3,600rpm*
  • Top speed: 190km/h**
  • Length: 5,080mm
  • Width: 1,940mm
  • Height: 1,855mm
  • Wheelbase: 2,970mm
  • Ground clearance: 215mm**
  • Approach / ramp / departure angles: 37° / 27° / 31°**
  • Kerb weight: approximately 2,500kg**
  • Suspension F/R: 3-link / 5-link, coil springs, anti-roll bars
  • Tyres: 275/65R17**

 

Toyota Land Cruiser 70 Wagon GXL

 

Largely unchanged and in continuous production since 1984, the Toyota Land Cruiser 70 was mildly revised for a then more contemporary look in 2007, and again recently for the 2024 model year. Its latest aesthetic refresh includes notably a chunkier style, with a squared off bonnet and grille, and circular headlights with LED elements for a somewhat retro-inspired aesthetic, akin to the Toyota FJ Cruiser, rather than just being evolutionary in character.

That said, the Land Cruiser 70 remains a bona fide legacy model with the same tough body-on-frame construction and engineering, and rugged live-axle suspension design with front coil springs for comfort and long wheel-travel, and rear leaf springs for durability and authentic workhorse duties. Under its more stylized bonnet, the latest 70 retains its powerhouse 4.5-litre turbo-diesel V8 engine and 5-speed manual gearbox, but is available with 2.8-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder with automatic transmission.

Developing 202BHP at 3,400rpm and huge 317lb/ft torque throughout a low-revving 1,200-3,200rpm band, the Land Cruiser 70 normally drives its rear wheels, but can engage four-wheel-drive, low gear ratios and an optional differential lock for difficult off-road driving. Available in single and double cab pick-up, 3- and 5-door wagon or long wheelbase high roof 3-door “troop carrier” variants, it also receives a more modern, retro-styled and well-equipped cabin, and safety and infotainment tech.

 

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Engine: 4.5-litre, turbo-diesel, V8-cylinders 
  • Gearbox: 5-speed manual, four-wheel-drive:
  • Drive-train: Low gear ratios, locking differential
  • Power, BHP (PS) [kW]: 202 (205) [151] @3,400rpm
  • Torque, lb/ft (Nm): 317 (430) @1,200-3,200rpm
  • Length: 4,910mm
  • Width: 1,870mm
  • Height: 1,940mm
  • Wheelbase: 2,730mm
  • Ground clearance: 290mm
  • Kerb weight: 2,355kg
  • Suspension F/R: Live axle, coil / leaf springs
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