Gutsy power and grippy all-wheel drive traction from the 4Motion system. Picture: DENIS DROPPA
Gutsy power and grippy all-wheel drive traction from the 4Motion system. Picture: DENIS DROPPA

I have logged many hours and kilometres behind the wheel of a variety of Volkswagen Amarok bakkies. For those who may not have been acquainted with the other Business Day Motoring News long-term test vehicle, meet HB 89 XJ GP — a luxurious, grey hulk of a Volkswagen bakkie.

I have driven both the 3.0l and 2.0l versions, the latter while taking part in the Spirit of Amarok (SOA) competition, twice. This is a time-trial type of race for civilians held annually at some of the most beautiful and remote parts of the country. Anyone can sign up for the local contest, which will be held in April and August when local winners will battle it out with international guests. It’s a lifestyle activity that blends the excitement of road-tripping with the joys of camping.

Add a fleet of VW Amaroks and a competitive edge and you have yourself an exceptional recipe in which strangers meet, greet, network and challenge one another on obstacles that range from speed trials, reverse driving and sand dune climbing. It’s such a riveting experience and participants can purchase the vehicles they competed in after the event.                                           

It’s also now elevated to a global competition with applicants coming from as far as Denmark and Australia in search of fun and honours.

When I recently joined Business Day Motor News I reacquainted myself with the Amarok V6 TDI. It’s an astonishing performer of an engine. Apart from its gutsy nature it also has low fuel consumption, with our test vehicle averaging 9.4l/100km on the urban-freeway cycle.

 In 2019, the 3.0l Amarok will be used in the Spirit of Amarok (SOA) competition for the first time, which could change the complexion of the contest. With 165kW and 550Nm on tap, faster times will be set and climbing sand dunes should be tea in the park.

SOA curator and racing legend Sarel van der Merwe says the use of the V6 TDI in the competition will result in the forming of even tighter corners and curves to counter the higher speeds. 

Either way, this is our last log in our Amarok V6 TDI diary as it goes back to VW SA this week.

A plush interior environment with leather seats, a modern dash, and a very user-friendly touchscreen audio system. Picture: DENIS DROPPA
A plush interior environment with leather seats, a modern dash, and a very user-friendly touchscreen audio system. Picture: DENIS DROPPA

It never failed to impress me and my team of colleagues over the past six months. The level of accomplishments in the quest for ease of drive underpinned by light steering responses, good low-speed tractability and a smooth eight-speed automatic gearbox are matched by very few segment alternatives.

As a package, it’s geared for multipurpose applications as a luxurious family vehicle with power-on-demand and a more comfortable ride quality than the average one-ton bakkie. But it can be used as a strong mule for towing very large objects indeed, with a 3.3-ton towing capacity and electronic trailer stabilisation.

Until the arrival of the brand-new 190kW/550Nm Mercedes X-Class V6, the Amarok V6 comfortably ruled the roost as South Africa’s most powerful bakkie. However, the Merc won’t stay on top for too long as the Amarok will arrive in a gutsier 190kW/580Nm derivative in 2020. Then this VW will add off-road racer to an already impressive CV.

We will miss it hugely.  

The Amarok double-cab V6 sells in three guises: the Highline 4Motion for R720,600, the Highline Plus 4Motion for R775,400 and the Extreme 4Motion for R810,100.