Now after seven years in which it managed to move 29 000 units locally, Volkswagen has given its popular pick-up a mid-life facelift while also adding the long awaited 3.0-litre V6 TDI engine to the range.
Subtle new look
In line with the old adage of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, differentiating the Amarok from its pre-facelift sibling takes a keen eye with the Walter de’Silva-penned design now benefitting from a restyled front bumper with redesigned fog-lights, new grille and a LED third-brake light. Higher spec models also boast smoked taillight clusters, while wheel sizes range from 17 to 20 inches.
Volkswagen has also revised the local model range with the Comfortline replacing the Trendline as the new entry-level offering, followed by the Highline, the new Highline Plus and the Extreme in place of the previous Ultimate.
The biggest change however comes inside with a completely new dashboard more akin to that of the latest Passat, with the previous audio system making way for a brand new 6.3-inch touchscreen setup in either Composition Media or Discover Pro guise.
Aside from including USB and Aux inputs, both systems also feature a new digital voice enhancement function, which amplifies the driver’s voice through the hands-free microphone without requiring him to face passengers seated in the back.
Attention to safety
With bakkie safety becoming more and more important, the Amarok has had to keep up with the times and get some new safety gear. Volkswagen’s bakkie now has a revised version of the brand’s Post Collision Warning and Electronic Stability Control, which are both standard across the entire range. Hill Decent Control and Volkswagen’s trademark Off-Road ABS system are fitted to all all-wheel drive models too.
Auto ‘box in, single cabs out
With the popularity of automatic transmissions in the leisure bakkie segment continuing to grow, self-shifters accounted for 81% of Amarok sales last year; Volkswagen has expanded availability of its eight-speed torque-converter auto to now include eight models, with the transmission also being the sole option on the 3.0 TDI. In a further move away from the traditional multi-cab bakkie range, Volkswagen has also discontinued availability of all single cab Amarok versions.
It now has the power
The much debated four-cylinder engines in the line-up are unchanged with outputs of 103kW /340Nm and 132kW/420Nm respectively, The new V6 not only sees the demand for a bigger engine finally being met, but also takes the Amarok above the Ford Ranger 3.2 TDCI as the most powerful diesel bakkie on sale in South Africa.
Essentially the same engine used in various Audi and Porsche models, the V6 produces 165 kW/550Nm, although an overboost function allows outputs to rise by 15kW and 30Nm for ten seconds. Volkswagen claims the Amarok will hit 100 km/h from standstill in 8.0 seconds, before topping out at 193 km/h while sipping diesel at a rate of 9.0-litres/100 km.
Does it have the go?
Having undertaken the first part of the local Amarok launch route from Bloemfontein to Clocolan in a BiTDI, stepping into the V6 felt no different until the loud pedal was mashed to the floor. Instant and accompanied by a pronounced turbo whistle, the surge of power was relentless and seemingly never ending as the speedo touched the national speed limit.
Most notable though was the complete lack of any engine or road noise from inside the cab, with another standout being the seamless manner in which the eight-speed 'box goes about its business. In spite of our specific V6 being fitted with paddle shifters, the 'box accomplished its task with such aplomb that is was left in Drive for most of the time.
Off the beaten track
Another eyebrow raiser with the launch of the automatic gearbox in 2014, was the lack of a low range gearbox on all-wheel drive models in favour of a very low first gear. Presented with a challenging albeit far from car wreaking off-course in the grounds of the Prynnsberg Estate, the Amarok made light work of the myriads of rocks, sand and water, only coming into contact with Mother Earth by virtue of its mud flaps.
While it has succeeded in upping the power stakes, the deciding factor in the success of the Volkswagen Amarok V6 TDI rests on whether buyers are be prepared to stomach the lofty SUVprice tag for its added grunt. Although sure to sell, it remains to be seen what its effect would have come the monthly sales figures.
|Amarok 2.0 TDI Comfortline||R487 700|
|Amarok 2.0 TDI Comfortline 4Motion||R544 900|
|Amarok 2.0 BiTDI Highline||R521 900|
|Amarok 2.0 BiTDI Highline 4Motion||R573 000|
|Amarok 2.0 BiTDI Highline AT||R539 400|
|Amarok 2.0 BiTDI Highline 4Motion AT||R590 600|
|Amarok 2.0 BiTDI Highline Plus AT||R591 900|
|Amarok 2.0 BiTDI Highline Plus 4Motion AT||R643 100|
|Amarok 2.0 BiTDI Extreme 4Motion AT||R673 600|
|Amarok 3.0 TDI Highline 4Motion AT||R665 700|
|Amarok 3.0 TDI Highline Plus 4Motion AT||R716 600|
|Amarok 3.0 TDI Extreme 4Motion AT||R748 600|