Long-term test: 2019 Volkswagen Amarok V6 TDi Canyon

Undeniably the fastest production bakkie currently being sold in South Africa (yes, we have valid reasons to make this statement), Volkswagen just updated their stellar V6 diesel-powered steed. The manufacturer, who enjoyed one of their most successful years to date, kindly entrusted us with the new special-edition Canyon for a month.

Mistaken by many, this ‘honey-mustard’ Amarok is in fact an Amarok, not a new model of one of the competitors. More so, this bushveld-Lamborghini will not shy away from leaving other “bakkies” and large SUV’s in a thick cloud of dust.

Yes, our statement in the first line is bold, especially if you are more in favour of another Southern-German brand. Volkswagen South Africa claimed a 0-100km/h time of 8 seconds. We managed to do a 7.2, some 0.2 seconds faster than said competitor.

Powered by a 3-litre turbocharged diesel (V6), the Amarok Canyon kicks out 165kW (at 3,500rpm) and 550Nm (at 1,400rpm). Should you wish to go into over-boost mode, the Amarok will unleash 180kW and 580Nm for 10 seconds. With an eight-speed automatic gearbox (we reckon not to be a DSG product), the long and open road becomes an absolute joy.

Bring on the December rain and “sinkplaat” gravel roads anytime, as the Canyon also features permanent 4-Motion. We do, however, suggest that you lower tyre pressures below 2 bar, especially if you are travelling on bad gravel roads with a light payload as the strong rear leaf springs may cause some bumpy driving.

With many of the current competition, a badly corrugated dirt road may produce ‘tank-slappers’ or drift manoeuvres. The Canyon (even at 2.5 bar) seemed to hold stable, thanks to the excellent ESP and traction-control systems (ABS and ASR also included).

So what is special about the Canyon?

Simply looking at the Amarok Canyon, some immediate differences can be pointed out. Featuring smaller 17-inch wheels with Continental CrossContact tyres, the Canyon is able to travel easily over unbalanced terrain, thanks to the huge wheel arches. Smaller wheels also allow for more space for higher profile tyres (allowing for more comfort if you are a gravel road user).

With stronger rear leaf suspension (opposed to the front MacPherson struts), the Amarok can carry more than a ton and pull about 3.5 tons. A camping trailer or caravan will be pulled without hesitation (READ CAREFULLY: Don’t use overboost with one of these attached to the car as you might enjoy an open roof panoramic view, when going to bed after your quick travels).

With an 80litre fuel tank, a distance of 750km can also be covered.

Inside, the Canyon is fitted with very comfortable leather/material seats, covered in orange stitching. While legroom at the rear might be somewhat small, a wide body allows for three adults to sit next to each other (rather than on top of one another).

Included with this package are bi-xenon headlamps, parking sensors, a reversing camera, as well as all the other contemporary features such as Bluetooth and a USB connection.

Optional features include a Discover Media audio system as well as a seat-heating package for the front seats.

We immensely enjoyed the Apple CarPlay / Android Auto connectivity as well as the endless amount of 12V sockets (ideally placed near the front windscreen, rear, as well as the loading bay. Talking with a bakkie owner and ‘loading bay cupboard designer’, it was, however mentioned that the 12V socket should rather be placed either at the front or rear of the loading bay. This should make it easier for specialists to build compartments within the loading bay (a market that seems to boom with bakkie sales).

Travelling across stretched out roads, well-kept as well as bad gravel roads, we can confidently say that the odd 2,000km in the Amarok Canyon never disappointed. Taking up most of a standard parking bay, the Amarok is quite large and wide, yet proves to be easy to manoeuvre in town.

Released with a 3-year/100,000km warranty as well as a 5-year/90,000km service plan, the Canyon V6 is sold at R799,000.

We can confidently say that this is worth every cent.

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