Muscular enhancement for VW Amarok

Vw amarok

After seven years of fairly modest sales, largely because of the perception that a 2-litre engine was unable to cope with the demands of South African conditions, Volkswagen Group SA has relented and recently stunned the double cab bakkie market with the national launch of a brilliant 3-litre V6 version.

The new Amarok, described by 4x4 expert André de Villiers as the best vehicle of its kind and superior to every other brand, certainly ticks all the right boxes in terms of rugged off-road capability, while offering SUV-like levels of comfort on highways.

The Engine

As the only six-cylinder diesel engine in the segment, the Amarok brings levels of performance that enables it to stay the course with some fairly high-performance sports cars - all thanks to 165 kW of power and impressive torque figures of 550 Nm. The flawless 8-speed automatic gearbox, likewise, plays a major role in achieving a top speed of 193 km/h, while seeing off the 0-100 km/h sprint in a mere 8 seconds. First used in the Audi A6 and A7 in 2014, this engine is especially robust with its 24 valves and twin overhead camshafts. A newly developed turbocharger provides smooth responsiveness and a complete absence of turbo lag.

The Looks

The Amarok, even in 2-litre guise, has always had a commanding presence with a wide stance, and dramatic front end styling with classic Volkswagen DNA. The V6  version retains all these qualities with discreet exterior changes with revised bumper and grille. Doing away with round contours and concentrating on strong horizontal and vertical lines, the V6 Amarok still manages to look like a bakkie, but with many styling elements aimed at posing a serious threat to the luxury SUV segment.

The interior, on the other hand, has the feel and ambience of a comfortable (and expensive) passenger car with ultra-comfy front seats with perfectly designed side bolsters to keep both passenger and driver happy on long-distance trips which this vehicle is fully capable of.

There are toys for boys in abundance, including such delectables as Apple CarPlay, six 20 Watt loudspeakers, an SD card slot, USB port and AUX IN interface. The high resolution 6.33"  touchscreen gives a grand visual overview when reversing, and is assisted by park distance warnings (front and rear).

Comfort

A vehicle of this calibre and which is capable of long distance, high speed touring, needs to be kitted out with features such as a  fully adjustable steering wheel, front seats which may be raised or lowered, huge exterior mirrors which provide high levels of visibility without even the slightest wind noise intrusion, and heated leather seats. Being a German brand, there's also an impressive list of optional extras such as auto light and rain sensors, Bi-Xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights, as well as a choice between 17" and 19" alloy wheels.

The Top Dog in the range (Extreme) carries virtually every option as standard, and sports 20" alloy wheels and Nappa leather seat trim covers, as well as satellite navigation (which worked really well during the launch in the Eastern Free State). The high specification levels are rounded off by huge (and dramatically effective) disc brakes on all four wheels.

Safety Features

Every single Amarok, from entry-level 2-litre to the latest V6, has at least four airbags, an energy absorbing telescopic steering wheel, and seatbelt pre-tensioners as well as specially designed rear leaf springs which provide a perfect balance between on-road comfort and off-road capability. ISO child seat hookups add yet more value.

Last Word

With the V6 derivatives ranging in price from R665,700 to R748,600 ( depending on model), buyers will probably look beyond mere price and draw the inevitable conclusion that they are, in effect, buying two vehicles for the price of one. On the one hand, it's a luxurious, almost SUV, tourer - with a load bay capable of transporting 956 kg, and towing capacity of 3.3 tonnes. In fact, it's probably the only double cab vehicle that can scale a 45-degree slope angle with a full load. The 3-year/100,000 km warranty and 5-year/90,000 km service plan will ease the pain of the asking price, as will the fact that service intervals have been set at 15,000 kilometres - beating Toyota's 10,000 km intervals by a considerable margin. Amarok V6 is tough, stylish, super comfortable, and should see sales figures of at least 300 units per month - depending on stock availability.