The new Amarok means business and comes to the party in the wilderness. We attended the international launch in Cape Town.
We often joke about the mullet hairstyle… Business in the front, and party at the back. The same applies to the new Volkswagen Amarok. It’s a remarkably refined leisure bakkie that can easily transition from traversing the roads less travelled in the wilderness to prancing around in the concrete jungle. As VW South Africa puts it: it’s a bakkie that acts as a multi-tool.
We attended the international launch right here on local shores. Yup, you read that right. The German marque thought the best place to host it would be here. And it’s appropriate, as South Africa is where the latest iteration is built. It was the perfect opportunity for the Wolfsburg-based brand to showcase how the Amarok shines in the city and off the beaten track in some of the most picturesque environments in the Western Cape.
The Amarok has been a hit since it was introduced in 2010. It was arguably the first premium double-cab bakkie, offering the practicality of a pick-up but with the comfort of an SUV. Globally, VW sold over 830 000 units of the first generation. Locally, the V6 turbodiesel variant of the German-built bakkie proved most popular. It was rather appropriate, then, that it was the V6-powered Aventura and PanAmericana versions of the latest model we sampled at the launch.
The second generation, although having a load bed, is more SUV-like than ever. This applies to its exterior design, comfortable interior and more advanced technologies. In the Aventura guise, it looks luxurious and in the PanAmericana guise, ready for off-road adventures. Its large footprint lends to its imposing looks. Locally built alongside the new Ranger at Ford’s Silverton production facility in Pretoria, the latest Amarok measures 96 mm longer than its forebear at 5 350 mm and 1 910 mm in width. The wheelbase has been stretched by 173 mm.
The cabin oozes comfort. The seats give you that hug you didn’t know you needed. A 12.3-inch digital instrument binnacle is situated in front of the driver, while the centrally-sited 12.0-inch portrait-orientated touchscreen infotainment system incorporating screen mirroring is within easy reach. The dual-zone climate control system came in handy during launch, as temperatures hit a scorching 36 degrees Celcius.
So, to business, then. On the road, the Amarok fared commendably. The suspension felt supple. The handling couldn’t be faulted. However, the Aventura’s 21-inch alloy wheels did relay some vibration to the steering wheel when travelling at speeds over 110 km/h. There was slight turbo lag when overtaking manoeuvres were required. But once you are on the move, there’s no stopping you. The same can be said when travelling off-road. So, to the party, then…
The four-wheel-drive system incorporates 4H and 4L settings. It was a boon when leaving behind the tarmac in the rear-view mirror and piloting the Amarok off-road. The approach and departure angles are 30 and 26 degrees, respectively. The wading depth is rated at 800 mm. The Amarok proved its capability on the 4×4 route.
At a glance
Volkswagen Amarok V6
The new-generation Amarok builds on its predecessor’s premium-bakkie prerequisites. It’s a bakkie you can use for business and comes to the party in the wilderness. However, pricing and spec, which will be released in Q1 2023, will be paramount, especially considering the asking price for its Blue Oval-built brother, the Ranger Wildtrak V6, effectively its direct competitor. Only time will tell.