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Volkswagen Amarok

Motoring Review

THE VW Amarok may have had its critics when it was launched a little while back, but slowly, we’ve seen rather drastic improvements to a bakkie that’s capable of challenging South Africa’s finest.

The upgrades made to the Amarok range include a healthy dose of power, boosting the 2.0-litre motor to 132kW as well as refining the clutch, which - if you’re an Amarok driver – you’ll know can be a bit of a nightmare to get used to. However, that aside, the new innovative automatic transmission system for the Amarok catapults this vehicle into the position it’s so worthy of.

Gearbox

After spending a long time behind the wheel of VW’s new offering, I began to understand why the guys at Volkswagen were so excited to unleash this beast to South Africa. Equipped with the new eight-speed automatic box, the Amarok is the first bakkie in its class to utilise such a system. Designed around efficiency, reliability and seamless gear-shifting, this auto transmission uses a torque converter, allowing for better power response, particularly at low speeds and it offers less resistance to slip than a DSG transmission.

Testing the bakkie in a hot and dusty desert in Namibia, the gearbox works well thanks to the gear ratio configuration. For instance, first gear acts as a low range gear and the heavy dose of torque on offer ensures theAmarok can pull away in off-road use or while towing. In addition, the eighth gear has been configured as a fuel-saving overdrive gear that operates at reduced engine speeds, ideally when cruising.

At the launch, we did a sufficient amount of dirt driving in some tough and challenging conditions. Thankfully the new automatic Amarok is equipped with permanent four-wheel-drive, which makesit a proficient all-terrain vehicle.

Engine

Initially, the Amarok, with automatic transmission is only available in a 2.0-litre Bi-turbo TDI engine, which produces 132kW of power and has a maximum torque of 420Nm. This translates into a top speed of 179km/h and takes an estimated 10.9 seconds to accelerate from 0-100km/h.

But VW has promised, that as from April of this year, all Amarok models will be available with BlueMotion technology to help improve fuel consumption and lower CO2 emissions by using technologies such as Stop/Start and regenerative braking. The Amarok with automatic transmission is offered with top-of-the-range equipment in guise - Highline.

Standard safety and convenient features available with Amarok Double Cab Highline include Electronic stabilisation control (ESP) with brake assist and Hill Start/Hill Descent assist, ABS including off-road ABS, driver and front passenger airbag, daytime running lights, 17-inch alloy wheels, Radio/CD (MP3 capable) with six speakers, Climatronic two-zone air conditioning system, storage drawers under front seats,cruise control and a 12V socket in the centre console, dashboard and load box. For those wanting to spec their vehicles to their individual needs, a comprehensive list of optional extras is available.

With this new derivative, you do feel that this is the Amarok VW wanted to release to the world. It’s almost perfect thanks to its car-like cabin and now sports-great driveability with the new transmission. Volkswagen could be on the prowl for the big competitors!

The Amarok Double Cab automatic transmission comes standard with a three-year/100 000km manufacturer’s warranty and a five-year/90 000km Automotion Service Plan. 

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