The Amarok is still king in terms of power but will the new X-Class steal any of its thunder? Picture: MARK SMYTH
The Amarok is still king in terms of power but will the new X-Class steal any of its thunder? Picture: MARK SMYTH

Our long-term Amarok went away for a bit this month but it has come back sporting a shiny new tonneau cover.

Now we can put stuff in the load bay and keep it from prying eyes, but it also means the load is more secure, which is essential because again we have been making a number of trips to the tip and recycling depots as part of a huge spring-clean at home. Yes it’s autumn, but autumn clean just doesn’t sound right.

Even with the cover in place, the Amarok is able to swallow an enormous amount of stuff and it has made light work of those trips to the depots.

We are enjoying the performance on offer too, although there is a trade-off here. Those occasional jumps away from the traffic lights to embarrass hot hatch drivers do mean you can hear the V6 TDI drinking heavily and so the average consumption figure is now sitting at a rather heavy 12.3l/100km. I’ve got it out of my system though and will be endeavouring to get the figure back down again, but let’s not forget, this is a V6 bakkie delivering 165kW and 550Nm of torque. We could drive it more sedately and will do our best to, but if fuel consumption is an issue for you then there are less powerful derivatives. But they are not as much fun.

One thing that has surprised us is that since we took delivery in December the price has risen significantly. It now costs R757,300 and that is before the more powerful 190kW upgrade expected later this year.

The V6 TDi motor has been a long time coming for the Amarok. Picture: QUICKPIC
The V6 TDi motor has been a long time coming for the Amarok. Picture: QUICKPIC

The price still looks competitive compared to the new Mercedes-Benz X-Class which has just been launched in SA. The flagship of the Stuttgart car maker’s new bakkie range is the X250d double cab 4Matic Power auto at R824,205 and it only has 140kW and 450Nm. If you want power on a par with the Amarok then you will have to wait for the X350d later this year but it’s anyone’s guess what it will cost.

We haven’t done a full specification analysis between the two models yet, but the Amarok does have a fair bit included in its price, including a decent touchscreen infotainment system that helps create that cliched car-like feeling in the cabin.

Ride comfort is also superb and the Amarok has even been doing some duty on the school run, made easier by the ability to put the children’s backpacks and other paraphernalia under that new tonneau cover. We have high expectations for the level of ride comfort in the Mercedes — after all, it is a Merc — but not having yet driven it, you will have to wait for our opinion.

It is setting things up for a big fight in the bakkie market though, particularly when the 190kW Amarok arrives along with the X350d. But it is how well the X-Class is received that really intrigues us.

When the Amarok first came along, many expected it to be a true rival to the Hilux and Ranger in the sales charts but the battle never really happened. VW did well in the upper end of the market, where the Mercedes is also going to play. It seems unlikely the X-Class is going to make much of a dent in the Ford or Toyota bakkie sales figures, but the status afforded by that star on the front will undoubtedly reel in some people.

The next few months will be telling. In the meantime, we will enjoy the Amarok’s comfort, power and load-lugging ability.