The million buck bakkie: Volkswagen Amarok 3.0 V6 TDI 4Motion tested
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PRETORIA - The Volkswagen Amarok has been with us for a while now, in fact since 2011 when they introduced a 2.0-litre turbodiesel that flooded the internet with memes about only milk and fizzy drinks that came in two litres.
Well, they’ve had the last laugh, with many manufacturers following suit, and there aren’t any forums that have been overloaded with comments about catastrophic failures of the German double cab.
There’s a new one scheduled for next year but testament to the longevity of the design is that it’s still a looker, especially the 3.0 V6 TDI Extreme 4Motion that is able to tear up the tar like no other double cab.
It’s VW’s USP with 190kW and 580Nm stored under the bonnet, which VW says will get you to 100km/h in 7.6 seconds and top out at 207km/h after a short 10kW boost when you floor the accelerator. The power is sent to all four wheels permanently via a very slick eight-speed automatic transmission.
It may be the fastest in South Africa but it’s not cheap, coming in at a smidgen under R1-million.
That is a helluva lot of money not just for a bakkie but any vehicle but I suppose it’s aimed at a specific market, not your everyday load-tools-in-the-back kind of driver but a more bespoke owner that is likely to tow a heavy caravan or ski boat over the weekend and chair the AGM on Monday morning.
Having spent time with it my conclusion wasn’t so much that it’s just fast, at my age I’m well past trying to impress hot hatches from robot to robot, but that it’s an immensely comfortable and capable long range cruiser that will glide past slower traffic when you stonk the accelerator and then let the cruise control take you back to optimum speed.
A kind of GT bakkie if you will.
With 20-inch alloys, finished in ice white and a wide body-coloured rollover bar it certainly looks the part as well.
We had the perfect opportunity to test it over a weekend away to Graskop in Mpumalanga, before we were cooped up in Gauteng.
I didn’t really notice until it came time to pack our luggage that there was no cover on the loadbin, either a tonneau cover or a more fancy roller shutter type. At that price I would assume it comes as standard especially taking into account our crime rate and then there’s the rain.. Fortunately it was just the two of us so the cooler box and luggage was placed on the rear seat.
The layout of the interior, although starting to become somewhat long in the tooth, has enough premium touches to set it apart from its lesser siblings.
It has a special Nappa leather with contrast stitching, heated seats that are 14-way electrically adjustable although as an old-timer I’m already happy if it can go up and down and forward and backwards, while the multi functional leather wrapped steering wheel with shift paddles sits comfortably in your hands.
The dashboard as with all VW products is neat and functional with analogue dials and a centrally placed infotainment screen including satellite navigation that’s easy to use.
Oh, it has a key that you actually slide in to start the bakkie, which may seem old fashioned but you don’t have a fob rattling around in a cup holder or elsewhere in the console and you always know where it is.
The interior of the Amarok is the biggest in its class and it shows with ample space for two large, tall guys to sit comfortably driving down the twisty road to Pilgrims Rest. For those at the back it’s a bit of a squeeze though so we had to move our seats forward for those at the back to sit more comfortably.
On the open road this Amarok is a delight to drive, more comfortable SUV than ladder frame bakkie, taking some of the more (if that’s possible) potholed Mpumalanga roads in its stride as you cruise past smaller cars trying to escape damaging their rims and tyres. For that you need direct steering and the Amarok has that in oversupply while long gentle curves and sharp bends are handled with aplomb, not Golf R slick, but impressive for a vehicle of its size nonetheless.
But the party trick, despite its price, is that engine.
With virtually no turbo lag it lunges forward without wheelspin thanks to its all wheel drive system and will keep changing gears until you run out of road or talent, if that’s what you really want to do.
However, it’s on the open road where it comes into its own. Cruising at just above 2000rpm at the speed limit there’s really no planning needed to overtake slower traffic. A push on the accelerator and the gearbox smoothly changes down as it accelerates effortlessly leaving traffic in its wake as you prepare for the next one.
There’s one question you have to ask yourself though, and that’s whether it’s worth the money for that alone. Does it do anything different than say a similar, or slightly less specced and less powerful double cab that’s R300 000 to R400 000 less expensive? The short answer is no, especially with a new model waiting in the wings but it’s still selling and it is a fantastic drive.
PS: We didn’t take it offroad on this specific occasion, but to see how it does click here.
Volkswagen Amarok 3.0 TDI Extreme 4Motion
Engine: 3-litre V6 turbodiesel
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Drive: All-wheel drive
Power: 190kW @ 3000-4500rpm
Torque: 580Nm @ 1400-2750rpm
0-100km/h: 7.6 seconds (claimed)
Fuel use: 9.5 l/100km (claimed)
Warranty: 3-year/100 000km
Service plan: 5-year/90 000km
Price: R996 000