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First drive: VW's updated Amarok 3.0 TDI V6 bakkie

2017-04-28 11:11

Sean Parker

V6 POWERED AMAROK: Volkswagen is hoping to steal sales from the traditional bakkie players in this hotly-contested segment with its new 3.0-litre V6 model. Image: Sean Parker


2017 Volkswagen Amarok

2017-04-21 18:41

The updated Volkswagen Amarok bakkie will arrive in April 2017. Check out our gallery!

Clocolan, Free State - South Africans love lugging kit around in their bakkies. Whether it’s furniture, pets, bicycles, and/or equipment, we use bakkies as utilitarian workhorses to suit our lifestyles. The local bakkie market has shifted however towards lifestyle orientated bakkies i.e luxury double-cabs.

In response to market trends, Volkswagen has canned its single-cab Amarok derivatives. Why ditch singe-cabs? They're expensive to import and compete against locally-built products from VW's rivals. 

So where will VW focus its energy? Well double-cab bakkies of course. South Africans want comfortable, quality, well-specced bakkies will plenty of space for a family, a huge load bed and the power to tow a trailer.

Enter the refreshed Amarok. 

Finally, more power!

VW has finally slotted in a bigger engine (courtesy of Audi) into its premium bakkie. It’s a 3.0-litre V6 TDI unit developing 165Kw/550Nm, it’s the only six-cylinder diesel engine offered in South Africa. Will that pique the interest of power-hungry bakkie buyers? It remains to be seen.  Another unique selling point the VW has is its 8-speed automatic gearbox with a torque converter; the Amarok doesn’t have low-range.  

Out of interest, it'll hit a top speed of 193km/h and sprints from 0 to 100km/h in 8.0 seconds.

I drove the new derivative in the Free State along freeways and off the beaten path. I was impressed with the new engine’s smooth power delivery. When overtaking, the V6 has a trick up its sleeve; an over-boost function that increases power to 180kW for 10 seconds when your foot is flat down on the accelerator. Give it a break for a couple of seconds and it will give you that extra kick again. VW says it could offer the engine in 180kW form but says the detuned 165kW output is a ‘safer’ option. 

Along Free State roads the Amarok clicked along nicely at cruising speed and the eight-speed ‘box was never searching for gears; it truly is a magnificent gearbox that makes perfect sense for the lifestyle nature of the vehicle. The V6 Amarok comes standard with permanent all-wheel drive. 

I had the opportunity to test the updated bakkie along the province's mountainous routes. All that was required was to engage the ‘off-road’ button alongside the gear lever. This system replicates low-range and maintains first gear to offer the maximum amount of traction and power for the terrain. 

When descending via an off-road trail, I took my foot off the break and trusted in the  system to apply the brakes for me, with hill descent assist coping with any gradient.  The off-road button also activates off-road ABS: Volkswagen says the braking distance is significantly shortened by the longer braking intervals than in normal mode on unpaved roads, as the ground material forms additional wedges in front of the wheels. 

Gallery: 2017 Volkswagen Amarok

VW now offers a safety feature named ‘post-collision braking system’ which is combined with electronic stability control. The automaker says post-collision braking automatically applies the brakes after any collision, even before the driver is able to react. The severity of any subsequent accident can thus be reduced and, ideally, avoided. Thankfully I didn’t need to test out this feature. 

On the towing front, VW says the Amarok has a maximum gross weight of up to 3080kg, with that being said the maximum quoted payload is 936kg for the 103kW Comfortline model and – depending on the overall configuration – it can also tow loads of up to 3.3 tonnes.

What else is new? 

The V6 auto models are offered in Highline, Highline Plus and Extreme specification. Inside you’ll find an all-new dashboard design which incorporates the automaker’s modular infotainment system with touchscreen radio, App-Connect, Bluetooth and USB interface (iPod/IPhone compatible). 

Click here for full specifications

Decisions, decisions 

In terms of its application as a lifestyle bakkie, the Amarok showed its strong points immediately: strong engine, comfortable interior and a sophisticated off-roading prowess for people who aren’t hard core bundu-bashing junkies. 

The Amarok feels like a car to drive (save for the elevated ride height). And while it’s not as luxurious as a Touareg, I can’t help but think that it is a matter of time before the bakkies start eating into SUV sales. I’d rather much lug around my recycling in the back of an Amarok than a Touareg. 


Amarok 2.0 TDI 103kW 4x2 Manual Comfortline - R487 700
Amarok 2.0 TDI 103kW 4MOTION Manual Comfortline - R544 900
Amarok 2.0 BiTDI 132kW 4x2 Manual Highline - R521 900
Amarok 2.0 BiTDI 132kW 4MOTION Manual Highline - R573 000
Amarok 2.0 BiTDI 132kW 4x2 Auto Highline - R539 400
Amarok 2.0 BiTDI 132kW 4x2 Auto Highline Plus  - R591 900
Amarok 2.0 BiTDI 132kW 4MOTION Auto Highline - R590 600
Amarok 2.0 BiTDI 132kW 4MOTION Auto Highline Plus - R643 100
Amarok 2.0 BiTDI 132kW 4MOTION Auto Extreme - R673 600
Amarok 3.0 TDI V6 165kW 4MOTION Auto Highline - R665 700
Amarok 3.0 TDI V6 165kW 4MOTION Auto Highline Plus - R716 600
Amarok 3.0 TDI V6 165kW 4MOTION Auto Extreme - R748 600

Read more on:    volkswagen  |  sean parker  |  south africa  |  new models

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