When it comes to one-tonne bakkies, South Africa is very much a diesel-powered country. It’s just one of those things, like our superior braais made on real fires rather than gas burners.
Petrol engine options in this segment are few and far between, with much of the volume concentrated in the single cab workhorse market where their lower purchase price supersedes all other considerations.
However there has been an increase in the number of petrol options at the upper end of the double cab market with the introduction of models like the Jeep Gladiator, and Ford’s latest Ranger Raptor in particular has shown there is an appetite for high performance petrol-powered bakkies.
Now it seems that Volkswagen wants to carve itself a little niche in the space below Raptor. At a media event on Monday, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles (VWCV) product marketing specialist Ryan Gillingham revealed that a turbo petrol-powered Amarok was currently under consideration for South Africa.
Of course, the latest Silverton-built Amarok is based on the Ford Ranger, and the petrol option that VWCV wants to introduce is the Blue Oval’s 2.3-litre, four-cylinder turbo engine offered in the Ranger and Amarok in certain overseas markets. And in the Mustang for that matter.
The 2.3-litre single-turbo petrol engine produces 222kW and 452Nm and it is paired with the familiar 10-speed automatic gearbox and 4Motion four-wheel drive with 4A mode.
Volkswagen’s commercial vehicle arm is also exploring other range additions for the Amarok, although those details remain under wraps for now.
“2024 seeks to build on the momentum that was created in 2023. We will continue on the one side to work closely with our alliance partners, first of all at Silverton, to come up with innovations for new Amarok,” VWCV’s Ryan Gillingham said.
“We are definitely exploring the likes of the 222kW petrol engine as well as some different innovations, for which I won’t drop any further hints, that we look to introduce to our portfolio in the second half of the year.”
While the 222kW turbopetrol Amarok will provide a certain performance advantage over the diesel models, it will come with a fuel consumption penalty, albeit perhaps not as significant as you might expect.
According to claimed figures from VW in Australia, the 2.3 petrol Aventura consumes 9.9 litres per 100km versus 8.4 l/100 for the 3.0 V6 TDI and 7.2 l/100km for the 2.0 BiTDI.
However, with many flagship double cab bakkies now costing in the region of R1 million, fuel consumption is likely less of a concern than it would have been in the past.
Also, the volatility of diesel prices - which went up by over R5 between August and October before the current spate of decreases started - is slowly eroding the diesel advantage that attracted many consumers to oil burners in the past.
If it comes to South Africa, the 2.3 turbopetrol Amarok would likely be sold in PanAmericana and Aventura guises, slotting above its nearest competitor, which is the normally aspirated Toyota Hilux 4.0 V6 Legend, which offers 175kW and 376Nm.