TOW TEST

When Volk­swa­gen in­tro­duced the Amarok, the Ger­man man­u­fac­turer made waves with one of the small­est en­gines in the bakkie mar­ket. But its new Amarok is rais­ing eye­brows for an en­tirely dif­fer­ent rea­son.

Go! Camp & Drive - - Contents - Text and pho­tos Leon Botha

The first Amarok dou­ble cab bakkies with its 2 ℓ diesel en­gines were greeted with a lot of skep­ti­cism. It was one of the small­est diesel en­gines in the bakkie mar­ket and many peo­ple thought it wouldn’t be able to de­liver, es­pe­cially not while car­ry­ing a load or tow­ing. But here we are, two years later, and th­ese two-litres still proudly lead many car­a­vans and camp­ing trail­ers from the one des­ti­na­tion to the other. This year the Ger­man mo­tor man­u­fac­turer again caused a stir with the Amarok. This time it was be­cause of the only six-cylin­der turbo-diesel en­gine, now of­fi­cially the most pow­er­ful, in a South African bakkie. The V6 tur­bod­iesel in the new Amarok is a triedand-tested en­gine that’s given years of ser­vice in the Volk­swa­gen Touareg, Audi Q7, and the Porche Cayenne and Ma­can. Not one other bakkie on the lo­cal mar­ket can hold a can­dle to its enor­mous 550 Nm torque and 165 kW. The V6 Amarok is now also of­fi­cially the most ex­pen­sive bakkie on the mar­ket, but for those who tow its power de­liv­ery is pure bliss.

The win­ner of a dozen

With the ad­di­tion of the V6 there are now 12 Amarok mod­els on the mar­ket – three of them with the six-cylin­der en­gine. All the 3 ℓ mod­els have full-time four­wheel drive (Volk­swa­gen calls it 4Mo­tion) with an eight-speed au­to­matic gear­box. Lux­u­ries de­pend on price, but you get amaz­ing tow­ing abil­ity from 3.3 t. The model we tested – the 3.0 TDI High­line – is the cheap­est of the three. It costs R75 100 (12%) more than the 2.0TDI 4Mo­tion High­line but gives you 25% more power (165 kW ver­sus 132 kW) and 30% more torque (550 Nm ver­sus 420 Nm).

Get­ting hitched

The rear bumper is part of the chas­sis and con­nects the two rear points of the bakkie’s lad­der frame chas­sis. The top part of the bar is bolted to the cross tube un­der­neath the bumper, mean­ing it can hardly be more sturdy. It fits be­tween two L-shaped 12 mm plates and looks strong enough to tow a train! The ball it­self is 51 cm above the road – a good com­pro­mise for stan­dard car­a­vans and camp­ing trail­ers. The hook is a goose­neck, though, which means you can’t add a drop plate in case you want to ad­just the ball’s height. Volk­swa­gen uses a West­falia tow bar with a D-worth of 15.7 kN (1 601 kg). This num­ber doesn’t re­fer to the bar’s tow­ing abil­i­ties but is ac­tu­ally the spe­cific value used for the bar’s load test. The tow bar is al­lowed to carry a max­i­mum ver­ti­cal weight of 140 kg – the nose weight of what’s be­ing towed. Volk­swa­gen rec­om­mends the heav­i­est pos­si­ble nose weight for the best road-hold­ing abil­ity, but our leg­is­la­tion al­lows only up to 100 kg.

Power play

With 550 Nm of torque avail­able, there is no doubt about the Amarok’s tow­ing abil­ity. The gear ra­tio of the first gear is de­signed for pull aways, specif­i­cally in 4x4 con­di­tions and for car­a­van­ers. You don’t race from traf­fic light to traf­fic light with a car­a­van, but it’s tempt­ing when you’re be­hind the wheel of this mon­ster. To say the Amarok pushes you back into your seat as you pull away is putting it mildly. Even with more than a ton on the bar you have to be care­ful or you’ll tow too fast. And be­fore you know it you’re do­ing 120 km/h and you have to hit the brakes be­fore the speed cam­eras start flash­ing. >

VW Amarok 3.0 TDI 4Mo­tion High­line

SUB­TLE. You have to look care­fully to see the dif­fer­ences be­tween the new 3 ℓ and the older mod­els, but the “V6” in the grille is dead give­away.

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