• Volkswagen's new Amarok V6 has made its debut in South Africa.
• To 'welcome' the bakkie, we undertook a road trip to Paternoster.
• The Amarok V6 makes do with 190kW and 580Nm.
• For more motoring stories, go to www.Wheels24.co.za
What better way to herald the arrival of South Africa's most powerful bakkie than with a road trip to one of the most serene places in the Western Cape. But first things first.
It was around December 2020 when the new 190kW Volkswagen Amarok went on sale in South Africa. Unfortunately, because of Covid-19, VWSA could not launch this highly-anticipated bakkie the way they wanted to. And let's be frank: a bakkie of this calibre deserves nothing but the best. The rise in Covid infections and the arrival of a second wave forced the automaker to rethink their plans, giving birth to the Paternoster road trip.
If ever Covid-19 was a blessing in disguise for something, it was this trip. Not only did we see and experience the West Coast in ways like never before, but it provided an opportunity to get better acquainted with the German bakkie.
With our suitcases packed and loaded, we ignited the mighty V6 diesel engine and directed the bakkie's nose westward to the coast.
Ease of driving
The statement we made in the opening line of this story about the bakkie being the most powerful in South Africa… it wasn't by error. This Amarok is powered by a 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine, churning out a more-than-healthy 190kW and 580Nm. The engine's operations are silky smooth, and the eight-speed automatic gearbox cogs over without hassle. Some automatic bakkies' gearboxes can be confused and fussy, but not this one. No, it makes you forget you're driving a bakkie. And though you can change gears via the paddles behind the steering wheel, you rarely have any need to do so.
However, do note that it's only the Amarok Extreme model that comes fitted with these paddles. The Highline model does without these, as well as satellite navigation and electrically adjusted seats - to mention a few.
But back to the drivetrain. When the driver opens the throttle completely, an overboost function will see power increase to 200kW for 10 seconds. This makes a massive difference in the bakkie's performance, given its 2053kg kerb weight.
Though Volkswagen claims a 207km/h top speed, we did not put it to the test, but can attest to the 0-100km/h time of 7.6 seconds. The bakkie is brisk - despite its size - and proved the consummate companion for the open road.
Ample space on the inside
Given that the Amarok Extreme nudges on the R1.0 million-mark, one would have expected one or two items to be added to the price as standard. One such item is a tonneau cover. Our luggage had to find accommodation on the rear bench with the loading bay exposed to the elements. It wasn't a problem to fit everything behind the two front seats, but it does raise questions as to how you'd accommodate three people and their luggage without said cover.
The Toyota Hilux 2.8 Legend RS auto, for example, retails for R868 100 and is fitted with an electric tonneau cover as standard. The Ford Ranger Thunder 4x4 auto (R811 800) has a manual cover fitted. Yet, the Amarok Extreme, at R996 000, does not have one. Perhaps this could be something for VWSA to address ahead of the all-new bakkie's local debut in 2022/3.
However, fitting the luggage on the rear bench highlighted the vast amounts of space inside the Amarok's cabin. Passengers can sit comfortably without intruding on one another's space. Connecting one's phone to the media system is a breeze too, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto just one click away. For the driver, the steering wheel controls will see you navigate through the settings in a jiffy, and everything else is within easy reach.
It's Paternoster, baby!
Our accommodation was mere meters from the beach, with a sand road running in front of the patio. With this road, drivers can take their 4x4s on a little excursion to Brittania Bay and St. Helena Bay, which is only about 20km away. Of course, we made it our mission to traverse this short stretch of road in the Amarok and soon found ourselves at nature's mercy.
The track is laden with bumpy sections and blind bends, but it proved little trouble for the Amarok. It was also the ideal setting to test the bakkie's 4x4 capabilities as some sections would see non-4x4s cry for their mothers. The Amarok is fitted with VW's 4Motion all-wheel-drive system that permanently sends power to all four wheels. Unlike the normal 4x4 systems, this system did not prove inferior to any other system on the market and sailed over the sand without a moment's trouble. For added assurance, the bakkie is fitted with a rear diff-lock as well.
Given the lack of low range, drivers can flick the gearbox into Sport mode, engage manual mode, and have the bakkie conquer a hinderness without engaging second gear. This will help keep the momentum going, and won't see engine revolutions take a sudden dip when you least expect it.
The rest of the town is as idyllic as pictures suggest. The houses are true to the West Coast's character, and the beaches run as far as the eye can see. We also went for a drive with Deon van Schalkwyk who gave us the lowdown on the town, the West Coast - and nature as a whole - from the comfort of his beach buggy.
Who wants to head back
One of the worst parts of any holiday is taking the road back home. Small towns have this way of drawing you in, and one always leaves a piece of yourself behind. It was the same with Paternoster. Whether the days are sunny or misty (we experienced both), it's a town with plenty of character. And as we have gathered, we've not even scratched the service of what it has to offer.
But it was, sadly, time to head on back. We loaded our luggage in the Amarok, fired up the engine, and hit the road back to Town.
Again, the bakkie impressed with its smooth operation, and the engine purred peacefully as we had cruise control locked at 120km/h. What a weekend. What a town. What a bakkie!