Road Tests

Tested: VW’s Amarok V6 bakkie

All those jokes. And now finally, a 3-litre to silence them.

Seven years is a long time. They can either be lean years, or fat years – and for VW, since the launch of Amarok, it’s been a confusing seven years.

A brilliant bakkie with the best cabin and occupant ergonomics, Amarok has been misunderstood by South Africa’s brutally judgemental bakkie buying public. Consensus has been that a 2-litre turbodiesel, not matter how advanced it is or how much power it makes, has no place in a double-cab bakkie.

Downsizing, though, is real – and the biggest double-cab of all, Land Rover’s Defender 130, had been powered by a 2.2-litre engine for much of its last years on sale in South Africa. Evidence doesn’t matter, only perception – and to alter that, VW’s done what its loyal bakkie customers have desired since the beginning.

By adding a litre of capacity and two-cylinders, Amarok transformed into the fastest double-cab bakkie you can buy. The Audi-derived 3-litre turbodiesel is good for 165kW/550Nm, which that amazingly adaptable ZF 8-speed automatic transmission converts to performance which tallies a 0-100kph time of only 8 seconds. The 2-litre milk bottle comparison jokes are now very much inapplicable.

All those torques also enable VW to do away with a low-range transfer case, without disadvantaging the Amarok in any of its off-road duties: gradient climbing ability is an impressive 45-degrees and with 237mm of ground clearance it will roll over most of the broken terrain you are ever likely to encounter.

Amarok’s most credible features have remained relatively unaltered, with that class leading cabin just slightly updated in the second-generation bakkie, gaining touches of improved ergonomics. Ride and handling remain the best of all leaf-sprung rear suspension double-cabs, and its electronic driver assistance systems are better harmonised than any rival, for both high-speed on-road cruising and gravel travel.

Beyond the handsome styling, notable off-road ability, occupant comfort and loadability (it carries a proper 1010kg load with the no-cost high capacity suspension option), Amarok V6’s fundamental point of appeal is its cruising ability. With that V6 capable of 180kW and 580Nm for ten second increments on overboost, the new Amarok 3-litre is peerless as a safety margin overtaking double-cab, clearing slower traffic at highway speeds with absolutely no trace of panic.

With the engine rivals had always feared VW would have presence of mind to fit it with, Amarok V6 is now very much the Alpha double-cab bakkie in Mzansi. Well, at least until its German V6 rival, X-Class, launched here early next year.

Amarok 3.0 TDI V6 4Motion AT Highline Plus
Price: R716 600
Engine: V6 turbodiesel
Power: 165 kW (180 kW overboost)
Torque: 550 N.m (580 N.m overboost)
0-100 km/h: 8 seconds
Top Speed: 193 km/h
Fuel Consumption: 9l/100
Transmission: ZF 8-speed auto, no transfer case, rear differential lock

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