TOW TEST

With a lit­tle help from our friends at NZ Fish­ing News, we put VW’S Amarok V6 to the tow­ing test, with a twist.

New Zealand LCV - - CONTENTS - Story & pho­tos: Dean Evans

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.

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