It’s getting on and that Canyon kit splits opinion, but plucky Amarok V6 still impresses

A few months ago, the King of Bakkies was under threat. Alas, its worthy rival won’t last much longer. Now, almost on cue to celebrate its soon to be undisputed crown, Volkswagen has introduced a cute spec Canyon pack for its celebrated Amarok 3.0 V6 TDI.


While it was never quite unique, nor groundbreaking, we heralded the arrival of the big diesel V6 Amarok as a major bakkie step forward a couple of years ago. V6 bakkies were once dime a dozen and some makers still persist with thirsty petrol examples – like Toyota’s 4-litre Hilux.

Turbodiesel V6s are also nothing new either. Nissan had a 170 kW 550 Nm Navara in 2010. And the Mercedes X350d hardly lasted a year before being canned. Such a pity – the Merc and Volksie V6s made for such wonderful sparring partners.

It may be long in the tooth, but the butch and angular Amarok still looks quite the part. Some say that this Canyon get-up adds to the drama by that exclusive honey orange metallic hue, darkened arches, running boards and styling bar, doorknobs and grille. Add chrome wing mirrors and trim rounded off by butch Aragua 17-inch alloys.


Canyon attractions include Bi-Xenon DRL LED daytime running lights and parking assistance with a camera at the rear too. Our tester also packed Discover Media with navigation and seat heating. Safety includes six airbags, ESP with, Hill Descent Assist and Off Road Hill Hold Assist ABS with post-collision braking. Plus tyre pressure monitoring.

Step aboard and you’re greeted by more honey orange. In the scratchy partial leather pews’ stitching, seatbelts, on the multi-function steering wheel and in its floor mats. Add stainless look pedals, roof lining with a lick of greenhouse black; voice controlled Radio Composition Media with App-Connect and an auto dimming rear-view mirror. The Canyon is a better bakkie to live with than most from a tech point of view.

None of that however manages to hide that Amarok’s ten year old cabin is now decidedly last season compared to its latest Japanese rivals – and way off compared to the albeit extinct Merc.


Does it all work? Well, Canyon split opinion in the office. Some say it’s quiet and sophisticated, but others argue that Canyon’s stiff, mute, cheap and inferior ride is detached with little driver connection to the steering, brakes or throttle and its V6 sounds flat.

Some of our crew quite liked the look. Others considered Canyon gaudy and bit of a full-price half-job trying too hard to steal the Raptor, Gazoo and Arctic’s far deeper thunder. That it fails to do in all but straight-line performance.

But it’s that performance that really stands this bakkie apart. We’ve never tested a diesel double cab to 100km/h quicker than a lazy nine and a half seconds. Including that hallowed trio of Arctic, Gazoo and Raptor. This Volkswagen V6 did it in seven and a half. And it’s quick everywhere else too, to make it something of a sportute substitute with a bak on the back.


Blessed with permanent all-wheel drive, they say that this Amarok V6 does not need a low range. Tanks to its widespread eight autobox cogs and all that grunt. They may have a point – it’s most effective off-road, doing what expect from a double cab 4×4 better than most. Even if you’d be far happier thrashing about the Nurburgring on that sportscar rubber than actually taking on a Canyon.

No, it’s certainly no Raptor or a Gazoo Sport. All this Amarok really has going for it is a Honey Orange hue and extra black Canyon pizzazz. Which don’t necessarily push everyone’s right buttons.

But its V6 grunt maintains its status. No matter how clever and trick those highly tweaked bakkies may be. And that sees the Amarok V6 retain its bakkie performance crown. Whether you dig this one’s Canyon fancy dress or not… – Giordano Lupini

Images: Giordano Lupini

ROAD TESTED: Volkswagen Amarok 3.0 
             V6 TDI Canyon 4Motion
Engine: 165kW 550Nm 3-litre Turbodiesel V6
Drive: 8-speed automatic AWD
Payload:          867 kg               6
Braked Towing:    3300 kg              6
0-60km/h          3.45 sec             9
0-100km/h         7.66 sec             9
0-160km/h         21.67 sec            
400m              15.2 sec @ 141 km/h  9
80-120km/h        5.48 sec             9
120-160km/h       10.91 sec
Claimed Vmax      193 km/h
VMax:             193 km/h
Fuel:             9 l/100km            6
CO2:              236g/km              6
Warranty/Service: 3y 100K/5y 90K km    7
LIST PRICE:       R996K                4
RATED:                                71
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