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By Miles Downard
Volkswagen’s Amarok was something of a wake up call for the more established bakkie producers here in South Africa. It brought a level of specification and interior fitting you’d normally only find in passenger vehicles to the leisure bakkie market which prompted the likes of Ford and Toyota to significantly improve its offerings.
The other thing the Amarok achieved was introducing independent rear suspension to this same market. Not everyone has followed suit of course but for the leisure market this was a game changer, making the Amarok comfortably the most comfortable bakkie around at the time.
That wasn’t the end of the ground breaking changes from VW. It also introduced the Amarok with a 2.0 litre turbocharged diesel motor which all and sundry mocked for its diminutive capacity in a world where only engines with a capacity north of 3.0 litres was considered a viable product.
Having said that, the model we tested recently was in fact of 3.0 displacement. That’s because VW thought best to create a properly premium option for those buyers who want a pretty quick bakkie. Accordingly this is no agricultural diesel motor but rather related to one you’d find in a Toureg or a host of Audis. It’s a V6 that produces 165kW, 550 torques and is as smooth as butter.
It’s very clearly touted as a leisure vehicle rather than any kind of workhorse, best suited to mostly tarmac use given the highway biased tyres. Perhaps the odd jaunt to the family farm over a weekend is the extent of the offroading VW foresee for this Amarok derivative.
It’s pretty well suited for that purpose. The interior is about as premium as a Golf with the same kind of equipment on offer.
Of course you could always fit a set of more rugged tyres and then this Amarok would transform into a fairly capable off roader. It’s got an electronically selectable drivetrain setup to cater for low range, albeit not in the traditional sense, and various modes for different terrain.
I happened to be racing in my first Lotus Challenge event the weekend of having the Amarok and accordingly hooked up the race car to trek out to Red Star. This V6 turbocharged diesel is really well suited to towing. I hardly noticed having some 750kg hooked up behind me.
Of course there is a catch to all of this and that is the price. The Amarok V6 will set you back around R800,000 depending on whether you want the Highline or Highline Plus. Other than the Mercedes X Class, which has largely been a failure, this is by far the most expensive bakkie available in SA.
I must say this is a very nice vehicle. Premium feel, comfortable, silky engine and capable if you need it to be. I’ll leave it to you to decide if that makes it worth the price tag.
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