This is the 2021 Nissan Patrol Nismo and it’s no April Fool’s joke. Unveiled at a virtual event in Dubai yesterday, the “race-inspired version” of the Patrol facelift – which was introduced in September 2019 – “combines striking exteriors with the refinement of a luxury car and the exhilarating performance of a sports car.”

The Patrol Nismo will be available exclusively in the Middle East, where SUVs the size of the Patrol and Toyota Land Cruiser are the default. Nissan says it begins a year-long celebration to mark the 70th anniversary of the Nissan Patrol, which started life as a Willys Jeep style off-roader in 1951.

The Patrol Nismo wears a honeycomb mesh grille that replaces the standard car’s horizontal chrome slats, and there’s a Nismo badge one side of the Nissan logo. The bumper is new, and it features vertical vents at the extremes and more mesh in the middle. There’s a red lip that extends to the sides and rear, a Nismo signature.

The tailgate spoiler and rear bumper are a fair bit more aggressive on the Nismo; the latter is a protruding ledge of a thing with an integrated diffuser and F1-style rear fog lights. Prominent tail pipes sit either side of the diffuser. The wheels are 22-inch two-tone multi-spoke aluminium items with the Nismo logo.

Inside, the Patrol’s expansive cabin takes on a new character thanks to plenty of red and carbon fibre trim. The seats are covered in Alcantara with leather on the sides, and there are also honeycomb quilting and Nismo badges. The steering is wrapped with Alcantara as well, and there’s plenty of red stitching.

Nissan says that the Patrol Nismo has improved cabin quietness due to a reduction of frame vibration, and there are air con upgrades for the second row.

The top non-Nismo Patrol comes with a 5.6 litre V8 engine producing 400 hp and 560 Nm of torque, with drive sent to all four wheels via a seven-speed automatic transmission. The Nismo boasts 28 extra horses and the same amount of torque.

With just a 28 hp increase, there’s more talk on aerodynamics and dynamics. Nissan says that the Patrol Nismo’s side ducts on the front bumper help it to achieve zero lift, “a breakthrough achievement within the SUV segment”. The new roof spoiler allows for smoother air flow, the wheels are 4.5 kg lighter combined, braking performance has been improved, there’s body structure reinforcement, and the flagship Patrol sports Bilstein shock absorbers for improved handling.

Available in four colours – White Pearl, Black Solid, Grey and Silver – the 2021 Nissan Patrol Nismo goes on sale across the Middle East this month at a starting price of AED 385,000 (RM434,129) in the UAE.