Out of Africa

How tough is VW’S ute? Find out in the ul­ti­mate Amarok road test

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Road Test -

novices. The ul­ti­mate road test? Too bloody right.

Aside from the sand dunes, vol­canic rock, clumps of car-stick­ing camel grass and stepped river­banks called Oueds, there is no marked route.

Based on old-style nav­i­ga­tion, teams are sent off at each dawn to find a se­ries of check­points, us­ing only a com­pass and 60-year old black-and-white maps.

The Rally be­gins with a Pro­logue af­ter­noon be­fore eight 12-hour days, in­clud­ing two two-day marathon legs where you sleep where you stop at night­fall, pro­ceed­ing at dawn to the next des­ig­nated bivouac.

On the pro­logue, the Aus­tralian team found it­self beached on camel grass in the dark.

Les­son one when the clock hits 7pm and the girls are al­lowed to join up and con­voy back to the Bivouac, don’t fol­low a lifted Land­cruiser and as­sume your stan­dard Veedub will clear the same sand­in­fected grassy dunes.

Worse still, the usual 230mm ground clear­ance of the Amarok is re­duced to 192mm with the 4Mo­tion 4Wd­diffs and un­der­body pro­tec­tion.

Our im­promptu con­voy, ea­ger to get back home in the twi­light and sadly lack­ing the Gazelle Spirit of com­ing to the aid of stricken fel­low fe­males, skirted around our ve­hi­cle and left us to dig for an hour to get the stranded Amarok off its moor­ing.

When the ute was fi­nally freed us­ing grippy sand mats and sweat, the rest of the camel grass was taken one dune at a time un­til the bivouac lights were thank­fully spot­ted in the dis­tance at 10pm.

It was not the ideal start to the ral­lye. But then again, it was about the only time the Amarok was tripped up.

The ride height in such ex­treme off-road­ing and the 2.0-litre four’s lesser en­gine

power proved to be the main weak­ness on this road test from hell.

Un­der a beat­ing sun, the soft desert sand has a way of suck­ing the torque from the wheels as the dunes peak higher and higher, par­tic­u­larly with only 120kw/400nm at our dis­posal.

So the only way to at­tack dunes was to keep the Amarok in high-range4wd and punt it straight up the face of each dune in sec­ond gear, some­times third, then pop the throt­tle to re­claim a lower gear at the sum­mit and use en­gine com­pres­sion to roll/belly-slide the ute back down again.

Girl power: The Amarok, as well as Sally and Sa­man­tha, man­aged to beat the desert

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.