Long-term test (Introduction): VW Amarok DC 3,0 V6 TDI 4Motion Extreme AT
Extreme… This latest addition to our fleet certainly lives up to the badge boldly chosen by its maker. A certain Mercedes-Benz may have just challenged some of its tenets but, at its launch here midway through 2017, VW’s V6-engined Amarok was certainly the most extreme production double cab this market had ever seen. And particularly so with this derivative; from its price to its spec and performance, the V6 Extreme is the reigning king of the hill by some margin.
This Amarok’s big calling card is, of course, that V6 turbodiesel engine mated with an eight-speed automatic transmission. A version of the powerplant found in the Touareg, Audi A8 and Q7, in this guise the V6 dishes out a meaty 165 kW and 550 N.m of twist. There’s also an overboost function that metes out a further 15 kW and 30 N.m under hard acceleration.
Tested in July 2017, that Highline- spec V6 Amarok astounded us with a 0-100 km/h sprint time of just 7,82 seconds – comfortably under its claimed 8,0 – and, in the few weeks I’ve been driving the vehicle, a couple of hot hatches and even a Mercedes-AMG will attest to the way this bakkie leaps off the line. It doesn’t stop there, either. In-gear punch makes the most of that torque figure; it takes 6,03 seconds to get from 80 to 120 km/h.
At R87 000 more than the Highline, this Extreme derivative sits at the top of the Amarok range and, for R784 400, you get several extras, including the fancier Discovery Media infotainment system with App Connect and sat-nav, Park Pilot assist with reverse camera, climate and cruise control. Along with this, the Extreme comes with 20-inch tyres on Talca alloys, side steps, a hardwearing load-bay surface covering, as well as ErgoComfort 12-way electrically adjustable and heated front seats covered in Nappa leather, a leather-trimmed multifunction three-spoke steering wheel with paddles, and stainless-steel pedals.
Our long-termer arrived fitted with a couple of optional extras, too. The Ravenna Blue paint and sports bar in body colour added a further R12 000 to the list price.
Alongside the Benz X250d Power, this Amarok is as luxurious as it gets when it comes to double cabs and, having driven a series of SUV long-termers over the years, I’m keen to see how a bakkie will suit my active/family-oriented lifestyle.
One thing I’ve already realised I need to have fitted, however, is a lockable load-bay cover, both for security and in the optimistic hope that we get some rain in the coming Cape winter months.
After 1 month
Current Mileage: 3 356 km
Average fuel consumption: 10,01 L/100 km
We like: powerful drivetrain; impressive spec
We don’t like: price
Long-term test (Update): VW Amarok DC 3,0 V6 TDI 4Motion Extreme AT
This is not a bakkie. What you’re really looking at is a stealth bomber. I know that’s hard to believe given the attention-grabbing metallic paint job, 20-inch alloys and that flashy colour-coded sports bar, but trust me – and a number of hot hatch-owning robot racers – it most certainly is.
Over the last month, I’ve indulged in guilty pleasures at Cape Town’s traffic lights when fortuitously finding myself at the front of the queue alongside a low-seated youngster peering over the dashboard of his dropped-suspension hatch. The rear-view mirror-framed look on their wide-eyed and fast-receding faces never failed to illicit a hearty chuckle as I could see the words “what the…?!” beginning to form.
Old ballies 1; youngsters 0. That’s what 180 kW and 580 N.m on overboost, all wheel drive and the element of surprise will do. Of course, as fun as it is, this isn’t what the Amarok was really designed for and I have also been allowing it some more traditional bakkie pursuits.
One of these was a family trip to the Cederberg. With the load bay jam-packed with assorted camping kit, bicycles on the Thule towbar-mounted rack and family ensconced in the Amarok’s Nappa-leathered interior, we set off up the N7 to Piketberg before hooking a right towards the mountains and up Dasklip Pass. Plenty of gravel roads and a rocky descent into Beaverlac campsite also meant the first real test of the bakkie’s fully laden performance off-road and, as class-leading as its ride quality is on tar, it’s equally impressive across corrugated gravel.
I can already tell the Amarok’s ability to ferry us and our inventory of equipment in comfort is going to turn camping newbies into experienced adventurers.
After 3 months
Current Mileage: 2 269 km
Average fuel consumption: 10,20 L/100 km
We like: embarrassing hot hatches
We don’t like: tough to manoeuvre in tight spaces