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This column is almost a decade old; well done. On matters half-decade, what will be the effect of the new five-year limit import rule on the motor vehicle business this July? Will we experience an increase in sales of locally used vehicles?

Secondly, I am in the market for a new vehicle.

Having owned a 100 series Land Cruiser — very reliable — and driven a 200 series Land Cruiser, I was blown away by the Y62 Nissan Patrol. The take-off speed is insane for a vehicle that size. It drives more like a sports car on stilts. Visibility is also surprisingly good inside such vast real estate.

My wife, however, deems it ugly, especially its rear. Her preference is the Toyota Land Cruiser 200 series in diesel!

Putting in mind the fuel costs (petrol versus diesel), reliability and cost of maintenance, what is the better buy? I plan to buy a three-year old one and keep it for five years. Pete

The effect of the new five-year limit import rule will be a possible drop in imports; but this will not necessarily translate to increased sales of new cars.

New cars are horrendously expensive here; and few, if any, dealerships offer enough incentive for a punter to take the financing plunge into the lightly populated zero-mileage waters.

What I expect to happen is a surge in restoration projects, whereby previously junked cars may be brought back to life. This will be a direct result to a spike in used car prices owing to the drop in import numbers. Back to the Y62.

Nissan almost go its act together with this car but failed on three Ds: design, diesel and death. I agree with Mrs Pete; the car is not very easy on the eye, especially the rear fascia. Secondly, the only engine available is a petrol-powered 5.6 litre V8 and finally for some reason, Nissan products have abnormally extended life cycles that always leave them behind the competition and make them feel outdated in comparison.

There are ways around these problems — or at least some of them. The looks can be redeemed by use of body kits — Nismo has a fancy red and black trim that can be fitted on a Y62, leaving it looking a lot sharper and with just enough menace not to be called ugly.

You could also graft factory body parts from the USDM Nissan Armada, which is the exact same car but with brighter work, fancier paint, wheel arch flares and extended bumpers which salvage the odd look, somehow.

There was a rumour that a 5.0 litre Cummins diesel V8 would eventually find its way into the Patrol’s engine bay. This is the same engine used in the USDM Nissan Titan mega truck (which in petrol form sports the same 5.6 litre petrol V8 as the Y62) and would ensure a clean victory of the Nissan over the Toyota in almost everything except looks. Why is that, you ask?

The Patrol is a more powerful car. It has better handling, besides being quicker. It has a bigger glasshouse and the interior is less fussy — especially the high-visibility instrument cluster — though the infotainment system looks like it was designed by the same people who built Ben Hur’s chariot — probably around the same time too.

That aside, it is way cheaper compared with the Land Cruiser. How much cheaper?

Brand-new, a locally sold Patrol has lately been offered with price incentives that see it costing almost half the LC200, whose asking price shot up into Range Rover Vogue territory with the latest facelift.

As much as I gripe about Nissan’s ageing warhorse, the Land Cruiser 200 is not exactly new in itself, and is getting by on a combination of cosmetic updates and brand loyalty to stay alive.

That being said, the Land Cruiser looks so much better au naturale, has a lot more kit such as Active Height Adjustment (which may push the price further away from reach), is available with an extremely capable and awesome diesel V8 (c’mon Nissan!) and offers better resale value. It will hold on to its usefulness and desirability long after the Nissan has been relegated to retirement as an automotive sculpture-in-the-round.

Fuel costs: The Y62 is thirstier than a marooned sailor. The LC in diesel spec is a lot more economical, but you will pay for this at the sticker. Diesel Land Cruisers are very expensive.

Reliability: Toyota’s name speaks for itself. That the war in Chad got branded “The Toyota War” is testament enough to the dependability of the Land Cruiser even when the going gets military. Lesser Nissans may suffer poor credibility as far as longevity is concerned but I am yet to hear complaints against the Y62.

When I drove the vehicle, first in California in 2013 and then locally two years later (read the full review in Car Clinic DN2, October 7, 2015) it felt solid enough; as solid as you’d expect a dune-bashing off-road rig to be.

Cost of Maintenance: Do not expect it to be easy so thank God for solid build quality. Both vehicles have V8 engines, one may or may not have a twin-turbo set-up, so it boils down to how badly you abuse the two. Wreck them and it will hurt. Regular maintenance protocols are not going to be gentle either, but at least they will be few and far between.

The 2016 WRX lacks the characteristic Subaru ‘rumble’

I am a great fan of your work and I urge you to keep up. Your comprehension of the “Queen’s language” is also entertaining.

The Subaru picture you had as a theme on December 12 last year had me thinking. I am interested in getting a Subaru 2016 WRX. What are the pros and cons of this model? I am also torn between buying it locally or importing from Japan. Please advise.

Gone is the charismatic flat four rumble that has been the mainstay of Subaru engine and exhaust notes over years of using unequal length exhaust headers.

Gone is the charismatic flat four rumble that has been the mainstay of Subaru engine and exhaust notes over years of using unequal length exhaust headers. PHOTO| FILE
Hi Aloysius,

A question about the 2016 WRX seems to indicate that I have an enthusiast in my hands today, one with discretion.

The pros: It is a WRX, so it goes like stink (somewhat) and handles very well. These two are the exact reasons it exists anyway. Expect reliability and general daily usability unlike some other warmed-over car models.


There is a bit of a horsepower jump over outgoing models, which just solidifies the quickness mentioned earlier. It is roomy inside and has a big boot. They say it has good fuel economy but if you observe this, then you are not driving it the way it should be driven, which is quickly and fast.

The cons: There have only been two pretty Subarus — the BP wagon and BL saloon. Everything else has been polarising. The 2016 WRX is being stroked on the neck with an ugly stick — actually scratch that; it is not so much ugly as it is bland, which is even worse.

Secondly, gone is the charismatic flat four rumble that has been the mainstay of Subaru engine and exhaust notes over years of using unequal length exhaust headers. Now we have nothing. No noise. It could be a Mark X for all we know; a Mark X might even be louder.

Also, there exists something called a Golf R that, Check Engine Lights notwithstanding, makes a strong case against a WRX.

The bang per buck ratio will depend heavily on your negotiation skills at the market, but the R may just take the cake here.

Lastly, the car is noisy. No, I am not contradicting myself here, I know I just said the car is too quiet. What I meant was the engine and exhaust symphony — the two elements whose combined efforts have for years given sonorous exposition to the WRX’s raison d’être — is non-existent.

But when I say the car is noisy I mean wind and road noise. Tyre roar. Buffeting. I’m not asking for Volkswagen Phaeton levels of refinement but it is not too much to ask for some, is it?

Import the car. I seriously doubt you can find one for sale locally that fits your exact tastes. There are few and far between, and those few may have already seen some hard use, and not always in expert hands.

Between Mercedes Benz ML350 and Land Rover Discovery, which would you recommend?

Thanks for your educative column on cars and everything related. I am ready to move a step higher in car ownership and I am torn between a Mercedes Benz ML350 and Land Rover Discovery, both 2012. I have heard good reviews from both.

The intended use is largely urban with a weekly dash to the village, so off-road features are important. Do you have any comment on cost of spare parts (not fuel consumption)? What about air suspension verses ordinary suspension?

Land Rover Discovery.

Land Rover Discovery. PHOTO| FILE

The good reviews you heard must have come from folks who bought these vehicles brand-new because when brand-new, these cars are really good and having spent eight figures on a vehicle, don’t expect the buyer to belittle his own expenditure. It will be good even when it isn’t.

That being said, the pair do not make for good used vehicles. They are heavily complex, festooned with electronics and when (not if) you start doing repairs, there will be hell to pay, almost literally. There goes your inquiry about cost of spares: the answer is a lot.

You’d rather even ask about fuel economy, which is surprisingly good for vehicles this big and this heavy, with six-cylinder engines that capacious.

The air-versus-metal argument as far as landing gear goes swings in different directions. Air suspension is good for ride quality and is a key player in the secret to the Discovery’s outstanding off-road performance.

It is, however, less than ideal from a maintenance perspective where the regular springs-and-shocks set-up trounces it in pocket-friendliness.

Seeing you asked about cost of spares, you are best advised to stick to the base models of these cars (the Discovery in XS trim — an ironical tag if ever there was one; the least kitted model being called the “excess”).

I have no idea how remote your village is but I seriously doubt you’ll make full use of the Discovery’s overachieving CV just to get there.

Perhaps the ML (later called the GLE) is good enough? Don’t be fooled by its shared genetics with the Jeep Grand Cherokee; the German has nowhere near the American’s off-road chops.

It is a mall-crawling, suburban-haunting, status-showing, tarmac-loving high-priced delivery van for the progenies of those fortunate enough to be born in well-to-do dynasties. It is not meant for the clag.

So, how to split them? The Discovery is more handsome and looks the part. It is also extremely capable, but it comes at a price. However, reliability is not in your destiny.

The ML sports the three-pointed star which is enough to let the Great Unwashed know that you can own them and their families in a moment of omnipotent whimsy should the fancy take you. It all boils down to taste but my own preference would be the Discovery. It has a brutish charm about it that cannot be replicated.

If you want to correct the light problem, have your car diagnosed

My Toyota Noah, 2003 model with 1AZ engine, started showing the check engine light when I knocked the fuel tank on a projected rock but after repair, it disappeared.

Due to overheating, the engine got spoilt and I replaced it with an ex Japan engine in good condition. I recently hit the car on an irregular bump and the light appeared on the dashboard again. However, there is no visible fuel leak in the fuel tank.

This light comes on after 10-20 minutes of driving. I don’t feel like taking the car for code diagnosis because I think it could be the fuel tank and not the catalytic converter, mass flow sensor, or oxygen sensor. What do you think?

Engine light.

Engine light. PHOTO| FILE

First, stop knocking the underside of your car on random objects. Check engine light means “attach OBD scanner, extract codes, decipher said codes”.

No two ways about it. Guesswork in motor vehicle repair is what leads to despair down the road when you buy unnecessary spares and symptoms persist.

Guessing what a CEL is about is the same as self-medicating with no medical knowledge whatsoever; not only are you unlikely to cure the problem, you run the risk of making things worse.

Man up and get the diagnosis done. Then proceed from there.