Amarok V6 Canyon is a space and pace ace
We undertake a long-distance adventure in VW’s luxury 165kW double cab
In November I was part of a group of jurors evaluating 10 double cabs in SA’s Bakkie of the Year contest and I chose VW’s Amarok V6 Canyon as my favourite.
That driving test took place over one day on assorted surfaces, but in December I took the special edition Amarok Canyon on an extended road trip for a more thorough evaualation of its capabilities.
First up was a trip from Joburg to Ponta Malongane in Mozambique, followed by a stint to KZN’s south coast, and it was a real test of the Amarok’s space as we packed five people aboard plus all their camping luggage.
The Amarok’s large loading bay swallowed an impressive amount of gear, but even so we required a 400l Thule roof box to accommodate the whole lot — camping and diving paraphernalia takes up a lot of space.
The eight-hour journey to Mozambique through the Kosi Bay border post proved to be comfortable and car-like for the front seat occupants, but the three at the back were more squeezed and expressed relief whenever we stopped for breaks. VW’s double cab has useful rear seating space for regular journeys, even for three adults, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it for such long trips — which I think will apply to most bakkies.
The Amarok’s a luxury double cab loaded with all the mod cons, including effective climate control that managed to keep us cool in spite of the sometimes 39°C heat and 80% humidity.
The touchscreen infotainment system’s easy to operate, pairs quickly with Bluetooth devices, and I liked that it has quick-access physical buttons for the main menu functions.
Standard fare in this highly-specced model also includes front and rear park distance control with rear view camera, a welcome feature in a big double cab. Comprehensive safety includes six airbags and stability control.
There was just a single USB port in the vehicle, however, which is really underendowed for the digital age. Rear seat passengers wanting to charge their phones have to fight over a single 12V socket, which requires an adapter.
The cloth/leather seats in this limited-edition Amarok are styled in special edition Canyon trim with orange stitching, to match the striking honey orange metallic body colour. The seatbelts and steering wheel also get orange stitching and the roof lining is black.
Canyon-specific exterior features include matte black door handles, a black grille, black wheel arches, partially chrome-plated side mirrors, Canyon decals and unique 17-inch Aragua alloy wheels.
The Canyon slots in just under the Highline Plus and the Extreme in the Amarok range at R799,000, and buyers can tick the options list with extras like a larger-screened media system with navigation and a Winter Pack that features heated front seats and wiper nozzles.
The gutsy 165kW V6 turbodiesel engine was the star of the show during our December sojourn, hardly breaking a sweat as it lugged heavy loads. It gulped distance with an effortless lope and shot briskly past long trucks during overtaking, using an overboost function that conjures up 180kW and 580Nm for 10 seconds.
The Amarok delivered this gutsy performance without slurping us out of our holiday budget; the average over the mostly open-road trip was an economical 9.7l per 100km, though it will likely be higher with more town driving.
For a vehicle with solid axle leaf-spring rear suspension the VW delivers a respectably comfortable ride. There is some bakkie-typical jarring on rougher surfaces, especially when the vehicle's unladen, but the Amarok is still one of the smoother-riding double cabs on the market.
Its off-roading skills were put to the test in Mozambique. The road from the Kosi border post to Ponta de Ouro was recently tarred and is accessible to all vehicles, but the last 10km to Ponta Malongane is soft sand and requires a 4x4.
There are two cardinal rules of driving in sand: momentum and lowered tyre pressures. After the long journey to Moz, laziness got the better of me and I tackled the sandy trail without letting some air out of the tyres first, but fortunately momentum got us to our destination without incident, assisted by the Amarok’s 4Motion all-wheel drive system, rear diff lock and 192mm ground clearance.
But we did get stuck on a sandy trail a couple of days later when we had to stop for another vehicle and lost momentum. After digging ourselves out we reduced the tyre pressures and had no further problems — lesson learnt.
The Amarok V6 is a winner as a luxurious double cab that can take families on expeditions on various terrains — and that burly power seals the deal. In Canyon spec it adds some colourful style to the deal if honey orange is your thing.
Volkswagen Amarok V6 double cab Canyon
WE LIKE: Power, fuel consumption, practicality
WE DISLIKE: Only one USB port
VERDICT: Tackle adventures in style and comfort
Motor News star rating
Design * * * *
Performance * * * * *
Economy * * * *
Safety * * * * *
Value For Money * * * *
Overall * * * *
Ford Ranger 2.0 Bi-Turbo double cab 4x4 Wildtrak, 157kW/500Nm — R717,500
Mercedes-Benz X350d double cab 4Matic Progressive, 190kW/550Nm — R904,188
Toyota Hilux 2.8 GD-6 double cab 4x4 GR Sport, 130kW/450Nm — R728,800
Type: V6 turbo diesel
Type: Eight-speed automatic
Type: 4Motion all-wheel drive
Top speed: 197km/h
0-100km/h: 8.0 seconds
Fuel Consumption: 9.7l/100km (claimed); 9.7l/100km (as tested)
ABS brakes, four airbags, traction control, cruise control, climate control, remote central locking, Composition Media infotainment system with 16cm touchscreen and voice control, electric windows, electric mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, automatic headlights, LED daytime running lights, park distance control with reversing camera, multifunction steering wheel, special edition Canyon trim, tyre pressure monitoring system, 245/65 R17 tyres.
Warranty: Three years/100,000km
Service plan: Five years/90,000km
Lease*: R16,972 per month
* at 10% interest over 60 months no deposit