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.
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).
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.
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.