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Pricey Volkswagen Amarok PanAmericana excels at work and play

The Volkswagen Amarok PanAmericana is a premium offering that can duke it out in urban areas or farm lifestyles. Picture: PHUTI MPYANE
The Volkswagen Amarok PanAmericana is a premium offering that can duke it out in urban areas or farm lifestyles. Picture: PHUTI MPYANE

Many may have mocked Volkswagen when it entered the competitive double-cab bakkie segment with the Amarok, but can the ridicule continue now that the second-generation model is a technical twin of the Ford Ranger, the second best-seller in the niche?

We previously tested the latest model in high-end Aventura specification perched on shiny 21-inch Varberg alloy wheels. It was back for testing in workhorse PanAmericana guise, but use the “workhorse” tag lightly.

This one's designed more for exploring the outdoors. It gets a front grille with dark matt grey accents flanked by intelligent LED headlights, a rear sports bar, body stickers and black 18-inch Amadora wheels shod with knobbly rubber for better rock crawling and other vagaries of an adventure-filled lifestyle.

The touch of the chunky door handles is all that’s required to lock or unlock the doors thanks an easy access feature. The large cabin is fit for five passengers on large seats covered in stylish leather.

The front seats are electrically adjusted and the view ahead is generous behind a two-tone dashboard, 12.3-inch digital cockpit and 10-inch touchscreen main display screen. Mobile devices are charged with an inductive charging system in the centre console or plugged in through USB ports. A standard fitment 640W Harman Kardon sound system streams your tunes or telephone conversations

The large cabin is comprehensively equipped. Picture: SUPPLIED
The large cabin is comprehensively equipped. Picture: SUPPLIED

Depending on choice, the starter-button either brings to life a 154kW and 500Nm 2.0l four-cylinder engine or the 184kW and 600Nm 3.0l V6 diesel motor as fitted in our test model. Both motors are paired with 10-speed automatic transmissions, but the big capacity motor is a silent and powerful smoothie that enhances the overall feel of refinement, ease of driving and capability of the Amarok.

The heaps of torque, 1,114kg load capacity and selectable 4Motion system make it ideal for overlanding. A 3,500kg tow rating makes easy meat of heavy caravans and boats. 

It has strong acceleration and will scoot from 0-100km/h in just over nine seconds.

Understandably, living with a 3.0l V6 used as a daily school and work runner is intimidating and a conversation starter about high fuel costs. With experience being the best teacher, the bakkie returned fuel consumption averages of 11.1l/100km, marginally better than the 11.4l/100km achieved by the Aventura cousin, but a distance from the 8.4l/100km claimed by Volkswagen.

Driver assistance comes in the form of adaptive cruise control with traffic jam assist. It’s a feature we used extensively during peak hours and it works brilliantly to keep the bakkie safely behind a lead car. Technologies such as forward collision warning with autonomous emergency braking add to the high-level safety, as do seven airbags.

As part of the growing R1m bakkie club, the Amarok PanAmericana needs to sway customers from rivals, including the rally-bred Ford Ranger Raptor and Isuzu D-Max AT35. Cheaper and just as capable rivals include the Toyota Hilux, Nissan Navara and Ford Ranger Wildtrak.

The range-topping Amarok caters to adventure seekers looking for a refined and comfortable double-cab. The Amarok PanAmericana is a persuasive buy despite the price premium.

The black 18-inch Amadora alloy wheels allow confident crossing of rough terrain while giving the model a unique style character. Picture: SUPPLIED
The black 18-inch Amadora alloy wheels allow confident crossing of rough terrain while giving the model a unique style character. Picture: SUPPLIED
Image: Supplied

Tech specs

ENGINE: Six-cylinder

Capacity: 3.0l 

Power: 184kW

Torque: 600Nm

TRANSMISSION

Type: 10-speed auto

DRIVETRAIN

Type: Selectable 4WD, low range transfer case

PERFORMANCE

Top speed: 180km/h

0-100km/h: 9.1 seconds (as tested)

Fuel Consumption: 8.4l/100km (claimed), 11.1l/100km (as tested)

Emissions: 222g/km

STANDARD FEATURES

High beam assist, leather seats, surround park distance control, adaptive cruise control, daytime driving running lights, auto on/off lights, rain sensor wipers, climate control, USB A&C ports, touchscreen infotainment system, terrain response mode, tyre pressure monitor, lane-keeping assist, seven airbags

COST OF OWNERSHIP

Warranty: Four years/120,000km

Maintenance plan: Five years/100,000km

Price: R1,106,300

Lease*: R24,565 per month* at 11.75% interest over 60 months no deposit

Volkswagen Amarok PanAmericana 3.0 V6 4WD

WE LIKE: Looks, drive quality, features

WE DISLIKE: Price

VERDICT: An expensive but cosseting double-cab

MOTOR NEWS star rating

Design*****

Performance ****

Economy ****

Ride *****

Handling ****

Safety *****

Value for money ***

Overall ****

Competition

Toyota Hilux 2.8 GD-6 double cab Legend RS auto, 150kW/500Nm — R1,003,000

Ford Ranger 3.0 V6 Wildtrak 4WD, 184kW/600Nm — R1,026,400

Isuzu D-Max 3.0TD AT35 4x4, 140kW/450Nm — R1,120,620

Ford Ranger 3.0 V6 EcoBoost Raptor, 293kW/583Nm — R1,184,100


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