Amarok goes auto
Volkswagen has bumped up the appeal of its Amarok with the launch of a range-topping derivative that can claim to be the first one-tonner bakkie with an eight-speed automatic gearbox. The conventional auto is a version of the ZF unit that appears in the Touareg, among other VW Group vehicles, and is coupled to the permanent four-wheel-drive 4Motion system that usually goes under the Quattro moniker. That’s another first in bakkie land. A Torsen differential apportions drive to either the front or rear axles in a ratio that shifts from a Front:Rear default of 40:60 to as much as 65:35.
The low-range transfer box has also been deleted because the auto uses a low first gear and locks up from 1200rpm, thus saving weight without an ability penalty. A rear differential lock is standard to help during cross-axle hang-ups. This combination offers good off-road ability then, along with economical on-road cruising because of the overdrive 8th gear, with VW claiming 8.3 litres/100km. It’s also the best way to make the best of the 2.0-litre turbodiesel’s sharp torque peak of 420Nm and full132kW of power.
Only the pricey Highline double cab derivative gets the auto option, listed at R461 100 at launch. This model comes fully loaded with Climatronic climate control, 6-speaker sound, 17-inch alloy wheels and that superb build quality. Options include Bluetooth preparation, park distance control and leather seats.
From April a BlueMotion derivative will also be available, using a Euro5 spec version of the same engine (50ppm diesel only), and adding stop/start and regenerative braking technology.
Any word on other engines? Let’s not rule out the future possibility of a 3.0-litre V6 such as that used in the Touareg. Perhaps detuned and simplified for this application to keep a lid on cost. The Germans have heard the criticisms, and have the engine in their armoury.