Let’s start with a disclaimer. I am a VW fan. I am an even bigger VW Audi Group fan even though I’m not a fan of the platform sharing of the MLB Evo ilk where our intelligence is insulted by the VW GROUP and the consumer is made to pay stupid prices for the Q7, Cayanne, Bentayga and Urus when the brilliant Touareg is all you’ll ever need .
I am thus inclined to like every VAG product. I drove the original Amarok in manual 2.0BiTDi guise and the facelifted 8 speed auto 4Motion and I found it to be an honest Bakkie, beautiful to look at and super comfortable to drive for a Bakkie after the three generations of Hiluxes I have owned and driven across Africa. But this is going back 5 years.
I had read about and I was anticipating the drive and feel of the V6 King Slayer. The version that would finally set things straight and end the bickering about whether VW made a real bakkie or not. I will be honest though, in my social world, Bakkies and the sizes of their motors never come up in conversation, just saying.
So VW South Africa sent us a 3.0 V6 Amarok Double Cab Highline. In a colour called Mojawe Beige Metallic.
I was disappointed.
Save for the V6 badge, this Highline model is altogether indistinguishable from the 2.0 variants and it reminded me of exactly how long in the tooth the Amarok is. It was a beautiful ground breaking design in 2009, not today. It just simply looked old. I had a mental picture of the marketing material of the V6 Amarok which shows the ‘Extreme’ version which gives the facelift a fresh more aggressive look. This one will be lost in the parking lot people.
The V6 motor in this Bakkie is used in various states of tune across the VW group and I’ve accelerated to 100km/h in under 5 seconds in one and hit a top speed on the VBox of 254km/h in another so I know it is one bad boy of a motor. In this application, it failed to impress me. Yes it is fast, but fast for a Bakkie so to speak. It lacks character and refinement in this application. A car at this price point should have better sound deadening and refinement and the gearbox isn’t happily married to the motor at low speeds.
The 2.0 4Motion auto is an all together better package and this is very odd coming from the power hungry torque loving person that is me .
The interior feels dated if you have been in any of the latest VW products. It shows you the progress in technology though and where the future Amarok will land in terms of interior packaging and refinement. The lack of electric seats in a vehicle costing north of R800,000.00 is not acceptable. The Hilux and Ranger offer those as standard at R200,000.00 cheaper.
I know VW builds awesome cars which is why I can’t wait for the next generation Amarok with the V6 motor. For now, if I had to buy a Bakkie, it wouldn’t be the 3.0 V6 Amarok Double Cab Highline. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the 2.0 BiTDi model
Mr Low Benz
“Bhampa Bhampa bhampa” these are the lyrics from the late Linda “Pro Kid” Mkhize’s song titled Bhampa. I can’t help but wonder if this car was the inspiration behind the song. The suspension on this car is super firm and as a result of this it becomes bumpy even on some of the finest roads of Africa’s richest suburbs.
I am a coffee addict and caffeine is probably part of my DNA now, this means that I always have a hot cup in my cup holder. If I drove the Amarok for a month the interior would end up smelling like a corner coffee shop. This would be a result of coffee spilling all over the interior due to the suspension’s failure to iron out even the slightest of bumps.
Ordinarily I wouldn’t have any concerns with a bakkie being bumpy and having terrible comfort levels but the problem here is that VW and Mercedes-Benz have introduced bakkies that cost big bucks and as a justification for the pricing, these bakkies are often termed luxury double-cabs. So if it costs luxury amounts it should also be able to drive like it. Remember in maths class when we learned “what you do to the left you do to the right”; this is a phrase that should be used by car manufacturers too – when prices go up so should specifications, but sadly this is not the case here.
I expected the interior to be one of the strongest points in the VW Amarok and the reason for this was that all the VW’s of late have absolutely fantastic interiors; none of their competition even comes close to being as good. Another reason for me expecting this to be a strong point for VW is because the Mercedes-Benz X-Class which we tested earlier this year had a mismatched interior that just looked like an afterthought in its totality.
I was left disappointed when I jumped into the car. The interior is not at all what I expected it to be. I really did not appreciate it. While I don’t think it’s all completely bad, I also do not think it’s quite as luxurious and well put together as other VWs that cost half the price.
You do get a touch screen infotainment screen which has the cool feature of enlarging the touch sensitive commands as your finger gets closer to it. I still love this. The sound system sounds really great and you can dial it up to decent levels without losing sound quality. There are four 12v power points inside the car! This means no fighting for the charger. The best part is that you do not need to turn the ignition on to charge your phone. Those little touches show that a manufacture is in touch with the people and make an effort to make life easier. The navigation worked seamlessly too. But we did not find a USB slot to play our favourite tunes, I am still shocked! Its 2018! No USP port? Come on.
The exterior of the car is not something I am a fan of. I do feel that it is dated. Our test car was the 3.0 V6 model and as Mr Low Benz said there was really not much that distinguished it from a base model. If I spend big bucks on a car I expect people to be able to distinguish it from a base model without having to read a badge. I do feel that the Amarok looks fantastic with the Extreme kit on though, it seriously makes a statement in this guise.
Can we discuss the power this car has! What a beast! There is just something beautifully absurd by being able to accelerate so quickly in a bakkie. High five to VW for this. This bakkie will humble a lot of fast hatches effortlessly.
I found that it took a lot of getting used to in traffic. The “marriage” between the engine and gearbox is definitely an arranged one. The fluidity and communication between the two is really non-existent at low speeds. In traffic situations where you need to quickly change lanes it becomes a headache. Lots of accelerator work needs to come in to be able to do this smoothly and in time. As a result of this you as the driver don’t feel fully in control and at one with the car.
I managed to do 100km with 11l of fuel which really impressed me as I expected this beast to be thirstier with all the power it has and its bulky size.
I respect the fact that VW decided to go into the bakkie market with their own product and not simply give us a Navara with mascara and call it their own. With a bit more refinement I believe VW will be growing stronger and stronger in this segment.
Bring on generation two.