THE AMAROK WE'VE BEEN WAITING FOR? Wheels24 journalist Janine van der Post is driving the new Volkswagen Amarok V6 TDI in Wolfsburg, Germany. Image: Wheels24
UPDATE: Wheels24's Janine Van der Post shares her brief driving impression of the SA-bound 3.0-litre V6 Amarok in Germany.
Cape Town - In September 2016, Volkswagen confirmed it would introduce a 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine to its double-cab Amarok bakkie range.
There will be two derivatives: a base Highline trim and the higher-specced Extreme derivative.
Wheels24's Janine van der Post is in Germany driving the new bakkie, which will arrive locally in June 2017.
Estimated pricing for the Extreme model should, says VW, be a less than "R800 000", while the Highline model should retail for "little more than R700 000". Full pricing and specifications have yet to be confirmed.
Two model line-up
VW commercial vehicle spokesman, Andreas Gottwald told Wheels24 that the TDI V6 Euro 6 engines are very important for the European market because of carbon emissions.
He said: "The two most important factors for the V6 is its robustness and reliability."
The new V6 produces 165kW from 4000-5000rpm with peak torque at 550Nm from 1500rpm. It delivers 130Nm more than the Ultimate version and is mated to an eight-speed auto box. VW's claimed fuel consumption figure is 7.6litres/100km with CO2 emissions quoted at 199g/km.
According to VW, this same engine is also used in the Porsche Macan and Audi Q7 and Q5, albeit with higher power. The biggest difference in comparison to the unit used in the Amarok is that it's tuned differently for "high durability", and is able to withstand more than "300 000km of driving" says the automaker.
How does it drive
My stint in the new 3.0-litre Amarok consisted of rough from Hanover to Wolfsburg, and back.
Part of the route took place along the Autobahn. This meant unrestricted speed limits but sadly my stint took place during peak hour traffic, and even then I was managing a good 180km/h, along with some speed limits of 130km/h. Either way, it was enough to really feel the broader torque band the new V6 has. Its steering and throttle response is impeccable.
Give it some power and the Amarok takes off immediately, something you'd expect in a sports car, and not a large bakkie. It definitely feels more akin to a comfy, sporty SUV than anything else behind the wheel. The 8-speed auto 'box doesn't give off that noisy chugging sound you'd expect from a diesel engine, but rather a throaty gurgle that is pure thrill, and just wants you to give it more throttle. Changing gears is near seamless and the V6 feels a lot more refined than the current 2.0-litre offerings on the market.
To channel SUV driving characteristics into the Amarok, VW has fitted the model with servotronic, speed-dependent power steering.
Since there'more power, and 550Nm of torque, the Amarok V6 now also has the same 3.5 ton towing capacity as its Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger rivals, and up to one-ton load capacity, where its previous towing capacity was limited to 3 tons.
Yes it's going to cost more than one would usually pay for a premium double-cab bakkie here in SA, but with all the niceties and standard offerings, and that torquey engine, it's definitely worth it.
The European-spec versions also come with optional matt finishes that will make you believe in love at first sight if you've never before. I hope VW SA will introduce it locally.
The 2017 model has a new front styling with fog lights, bi-xenon headlights with daytime running lights; comes with a sports bar and more chromed details. There's also parking sensors with a reversing camera as standard; multi-collision brake system, digital voice enhancement so passengers in the rear can hear the driver better when speaking, and 20" rims instead of the smaller 17" versions.
It also has that cool "needle sweep" function you'll find in the Golf GTI when starting the bank is up, optional matt finishes.
Other highlights include all-wheel drive; hill start/hill decent assist, off-road ABS and a mechanical differential lock.
3.0-litre TDI (165kW) Amarok V6 Highline
3.0-litre TDI (165kW) Amarok V6 Extreme