With a little help from our friends at NZ Fishing News, we put VW’S Amarok V6 to the towing test, with a twist.
Volkswagen’s V6 Amarok put under the microscope, and in front of a fishing boat.
VOLKSWAGEN’S AMAROK HAS A STRONG reputation as being king of the kids. Without moving up to the ‘big’ utes/light trucks, the Amarok’s V6 gives it an edge over the competition and with 580Nm of classleading torque and a 3.0-litre V6, it’s held a monopoly on the market… at least until the Mercedes X-class V6 arrives in December.
And to pre-empt that, VW has upped its own game, lifting power from 165kw to 190kw, and torque from 550Nm up to 580Nm, putting it not just further ahead of the rivals, but besting X-class’s 190kw/550nm V6 before it’s even arrived. And of course there’s VW’S marketed ‘overboost’ function that lifts power to 200kw above certain speeds, in certain gears, for up to 10 seconds.
The V6 Amarok has every right to claim itself as king of the dual-cab ute kids, at least for towing, so there was no better ute and no better time to work with our neighbours at the leading NZ Fishing
News magazine, to put the Amarok V6 to the test. We wanted to see what the ‘entry-level’ V6 could do, so we grabbed the 165kw/550nm V6, while NZ Fishing
News supplied its own Extreme Boats 745 Game King 7.45 metre aluminium, with twin 115 Mercury four-stroke engines. All up weight is just over two-tonne, to put the Amarok to the test.
Amarok’s tow limit varies between 3000-3500kg for four-cylinder and V6, as all Amaroks have two no-cost option spring systems: a heavy duty 3+2, and a 2+1 leaf spring. The 2+1 spring allows the maximum tow limit of 3500kg (3200kg for four-cyl) and reduces payload from 1041kg to 1010kg, while the 3+2’s limit is 3000kg. Our red Amarok V6 came with the standard 2+1 springs, which maximised our towing capacity to 3.5t.
Setting off from Auckland with boat and trailer, the Amarok’s clearly working harder, but exhibits the same smoothness and relatively effortless acceleration. It’s a large unit we’re towing at 8.4 metres long, and the VW’S big mirrors come in very useful for the tricky task of keeping the trailer’s 2.5m wide dual axles within the lane’s lines. But moving along rapidly is an easy task, and despite the bulk we’re dragging, along with two passengers and a tray full of camera, video and drone gear, the V6 barely raises a sweat, and surges up any incline. We head east from Auckland, through Botany, up and down hills and through some winding roads that rarely gives the engine a rest – no 90km/h cruise control on the motorway for this trip, as we head towards Kawakawa Bay boat ramp, a stunning concrete four-lane, all-tide, all-weather ramp
Amarok has three different tow ratings, for four-cylinder and V6 models and also which of the two spring packages is chosen.
with a pontoon and fixed jetty with wraparound breakaway.
As we pass through the final twists, climbs and descent into Kawakawa Bay, the eight-speed gearbox ensures the engine is always in its powerband, and never is there a time when the driver has to actually think about towing. It makes the whole trip so much easier and less stressful about holding up other traffic, negotiating hills or feeling like the ute is straining. In fact more than a few times in mid-conversation, a glance into the mirror gives a subtle subconscious shock and reminder that we we’re actually towing something. Amarok reveals only two issues worth considering: fuel use has jumped considerably, from around 8.9l/100km of unladen driving (against the 7.8l/100km claim), up to 18.5l/100km, which is understandable given the non-stop work it’s endured over the past hour, plus we haven’t been particularly frugal with VW’S tank of diesel, either.
The ride quality also changes: unladen, the Amarok V6 is superbly supple, best in class, partly thanks to its standard spring package. When towing, ride comfort suffers a little and proves a little bouncy, though no more than some of the rivals and we’d happily trade off a little bounce when towing if it means the superb ride quality when unhitched.
We arrive at the boat ramp and though we’re the only ones around, sadly there’s no time to launch today, though we do reverse the boat into position and notice the large 12.95m turning circle, and the Park Pilot sensors that offer audio warnings.
It was also a chance to unhook the trailer for some acceleration testing. Unladen, the V6 Amarok manages 0-60km/h in 3.2 seconds (0.9 sec faster than class-leader Colorado) and 0-100km/h in 7.7 seconds (2.5 secs faster than Colorado); and it even betters VW’S claim of 7.9 seconds. For a comparison, we reattached the boat and its 0-60km/h slowed to 6.5 seconds, offering a very similar performance variance to the Navara we tested last issue.
We also discover the gearbox’s Sport mode makes a big difference to response while towing, but also its shift speed and eagerness through the gears. During acceleration testing, Sport mode proved 0.5 seconds faster due to immediate shifts.
For the return leg back to Auckland, we reset the fuel consumption for a more relaxed motorway driving with cruise control, and we see fuel use drop to a more reasonable 16.5l/100km, around the same as its key rivals, weight-for-weight.
Top & above: Lots of info on the tow bar label indicates that this V6 fitted with the standard spring package is good for up to 3500kg; a heavy duty sprung V6 can tow just 3000kg.