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Driven: Big-hearted V6 Amarok rumbles into SA

Latest launches

Clocolan, Eastern Free State – Size does count, apparently. Ever since the VW Amarok was launched here in 2010, the size of its engine has stuck in the throats of certain bakkie buyers.

As much as they understood that a two-litre engine could produce three-litre-like power, it was still a two-litre four cylinder engine and thus not to be taken too seriously. At least not by those who bought bigger-engined Hiluxes, Rangers, Isuzus et al.

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Now that hunger for extra cubic capacity and cylinders has been appeased, with the long awaited arrival of the Amarok three-litre V6 turbodiesel in South Africa.

And its 165kW and 550Nm outputs shoot it straight to the top of the totem pole. It's the most powerful double cab bakkie in its class by a comfortable margin against rivals such as the Ranger (147kW/470Nm), Hilux (130kW/450Nm), Navara (140kW/450Nm), Triton (133kW/430Nm), and Isuzu KB (130kW/380Nm).

The three-litre turbodiesel is the same engine used in assorted VWs, Audis and Porsches in the extended Volksie family (yes, Amarok V6 owners can brag that their bakkie has a Porsche engine), and it's a fine example of muscle and smooth-sailing torque.

Not only does it out-power the two-litre Amaroks (which are available in 103kW and 132kW varieties) but it has a much flatter torque curve, making for a very easygoing execution of thrust. With 180kW and 580Nm available on overboost for about 10 seconds, this bakkie races forward with great urgency when called upon to overtake long trucks.

A factory quoted eight second 0-100km/h sprint and a 193km/h top speed attest to a high spirited nature for a heavy double cab. It should make an accomplished tow vehicle too, with a 3.3 ton capacity and electronic trailer stabilisation.

Town/freeway fuel consumption is quoted at nine litres per 100km and my test vehicle at the media launch in the Free State, mostly in open road cruising, averaged 9.3.

Uprated brakes

The power's delivered quietly, making the refined V6 Amarok feel more like an SUV than a bakkie, and the eight-speed auto gearbox is likewise a pleasantly smooth-shifting deal.

To cater for the extra grunt the 165kW Amarok has uprated brakes over the two-litre in the form of larger front discs, while discs replace drums at the rear. In other respects the vehicles are the same and there are no suspension or chassis changes.

The Amarok V6 is launched here in three derivatives, all with 4Motion permanent all-wheel drive and electronic differential locks at the front and rear axles, as well as a mechanical rear differential that can be locked for more demanding off-road turf. The adventuring ability is enhanced by an off road switch that engages the downhill assist and the off-road ABS – the latter allowing a little bit of wheel locking in order to ensure shorter stopping distances on dirt. It's a great system; we've tried it and it really works.

Highline and Highline Plus trim executions are available right now, and in a month's time there will also be a flagship Extreme version of the Amarok V6 with extras such as 20 inch rims, nappa leather seats, LED illuminated side tubes, and a lined load bay, among other features.

Horsepower hounds will have to pay up for the privilege, with Amarok V6 prices ranging from R665 000 to R748 600.

Along with the debut of the V6 engine, the entire Amarok double cab range undergoes a visual revamp both inside and out, while the slow selling single cabs are to be dropped from the line up.

The external makeover comprises a redesigned front bumper and grille, new alloy rims and a brake light with LED technology.

The interior changes are more prominent with a new, smarter looking dashboard and an improved touchscreen infotainment system which now includes USB and aux ports.

A digital voice enhancement function uses a hands-free microphone to allow the driver to talk to rear seat passengers without turning around or raising their voice. Rear passengers hear the person’s voice amplified by the rear speakers.

A new standard feature in all Amaroks is the Post-Collision Braking System combined with Electronic Stability Control, which also comes as standard. Nearly a quarter of all accidents involving injuries are collisions with more than one obstacle, and the VW system automatically applies brakes after a collision to help avoid follow-on collisions.

PRICES

2.0 TDI 103kW Comfortline – R487 700

2.0 TDI 103kW 4Motion Comfortline – R544 900

2.0 BiTDI 132kW 4x2 Highline – R521 900

2.0 BiTDI 132kW 4Motion Highline – R573 000

2.0 BiTDI 132kW Highline AT – R539 400

2.0 BiTDI 132kW Highline Plus AT – R591 900

2.0 BiTDI 132kW 4Motion Highline AT – R590 600

2.0 BiTDI 132kW 4Motion Highline Plus AT – R643 100

2.0 BiTDI 132kW 4Motion Extreme AT – R673 600

3.0 TDI V6 165kW 4Motion Highline AT – R665 700

3.0 TDI V6 165kW 4Motion Highline Plus AT – R716 600

3.0 TDI V6 165kW 4Motion Extreme AT – R748 600

The Amarok model range comes standard with three-year or 100 000km warranty and five-year or 90 000km service plan.

Follow Denis Droppa on Twitter @DenisDroppa

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