DRIVEN: Here’s what you need to know about the new Volkswagen Amarok

Published Dec 9, 2022


Cape Town - The new Volkswagen Amarok hits our market in the first quarter of next year and they’ve released details and specs of what to expect as well as giving us an opportunity to drive it at the global launch in Cape Town.

It’s old news now that the Volkswagen Amarok is a collaboration with Ford and built locally at Ford’s Silverton plant. But despite what keyboard warriors say, it very much retains its own identity.

While it shares many of the oily bits with the new Ford Ranger, the exterior and interior is exclusively VW.

In fact, speaking to some of the engineers and designers on the launch, the Americans learnt a few things from the Germans, which means that this venture is one that both parties are committed to making work.

That’s a good thing for consumers, because the previous foray into the market between Mercedes Benz and NIssan turned out to be an unmitigated flop.

The new Amarok is 96mm longer than the outgoing model and has an increase of 173mm to its wheelbase providing more room in the cabin which they have made into a premium space.

Despite some plastic pieces there are premium soft-touch finishes in all the right places, stitching on the seats with specifically designed air vents and dash pattern.

Thankfully VW Commercial have loaded it with a mix of digital and analogue with a digital binnacle and some of the functions on the vertical touch screen but buttons and rotary switches for volume control, air conditioning, all-wheel drive systems and, depending on the version, the switches have chrome look rims.

One thing had me scratching my head though and that was a lack of any charging points for rear passengers.

The Volkswagen Amarok will be offered in five different trim levels: the entry level Amarok followed by the mid-spec Life and Style and then the range topping Aventura and PanAmericana.

The PanAmericana has more of a camel-man appearance for buyers who enjoy taking their double cab off-road while the Aventura is for city chic.

They’re both fitted with the V6 3.0-litre turbo engine that’s good for 184kW and 600Nm while the rest of the range will have 2.0-litre diesel versions with the single turbo pushing out either 110kW and 350Nm or 125kW and 405Nm and the bi-turbo with 155kW and 500Nm.

Transmissions will range from a five speed manual (for the single cab workhorse exclusive to SA) to a 10-speed automatic. If those engines and figures look familiar it’s because those are some of the oily bits that are shared.

The Amarok has a plethora of safety and driver assist systems, including adaptive cruise control, park assistance, lane change assistance and road sign recognition.

Good news for South Africans is an increased wading depth from 500mm to 800mm, a 200kg increase in towing capacity to 3.5 tons, while the roof can now carry 350kg for a decent roof rack and roof top tent.

The tailgate is now integrated into the central locking system.

We drove both the Aventura and PanAmericana as well as the Style bi-turbo over a short 4x4 course.

I recently drove the current V6 Amarok which makes up 90 percent of local Amarok sales and came away very impressed, even though the interior was starting to show its age after 10 years.

This new one is simply in a different league.

The previous generation was somewhat brutish while the new Amarok oozes sophistication. The chassis, suspension and V6 combine into a sublime ride that belies its ladder-on-frame set up.

With 21-inch rims on the Aventura and 20-inch on the PanAmericana it always felt planted and incredibly comfortable. VW says that the PanAmericana will have 18-inch rims when it gets launched locally in order to fit decent all terrain tyres with a higher profile.

There’s no hysterics when you floor the accelerator. The big bakkie simply lunges forward and here a thumbs up to the people who worked on the gearbox software, the changes are effortless as the speedometer climbs and the rev counter hardly drops after each up switch.

I drove it as hard as I could down the Franschhoek Pass and it handled the twists and turns without any fuss and very little body roll.

We commented on the fact that had we done the same to bakkies 10-15 years ago we would have ended up as a car accident statistic at the bottom of the gorge.

They’ve done a decent job keeping wind noise to a minimum despite a windy Western Cape and with the big tyres the Amarok’s cabin insulation kept conversation levels normal.

It’s been a long year with many launches that we’ve attended, but the Amarok is certainly a stand out drive.

I have no doubt that it will find much favour with local buyers when it goes on sale and with the Life and Style thrown into the mix the bakkie wars in 2023 has just moved up a notch.

The current Amarok V6 is already more than R1-million to give you an idea but local pricing and specification levels will be released on launch early next year.