Our poor VW Amarok has earned its keep the hard way since it arrived at our offices, just over 20 000km ago. First, it conquered mountains in Lesotho. Then it tackled several 4×4 trails, and conquered them, too. More recently, we took it to Botswana’s wild Central Kalahari Game Reserve.
Whose idea was it anyway to come to the Central Kalahari Game Reserve? Dammit. It was raining cats and dogs. And we were camping virtually on a saltpan. After getting stuck for an entire day on a Botswana saltpan some years ago, we knew it was not a good place to be. We had to leave our campsite early the next morning via the muddy tracks. But lo and behold, despite the extremely slippery mud and tracks with hidden holes, the VW Amarok managed to drag the Jurgens Safari Xplorer to dry ground. The only casualty was a protection plate underneath the caravan that was the victim of one of the deeply rutted tracks and high middelmannetjie. We applied the Amarok to various other jobs, too. Like anchoring an Imagine caravan on one side so we could try and straighten a very bent jockey wheel on the other end.
Performance-wise the two-litre twin-turbo engine, coupled to the excellent eight-speed automatic gearbox, impressed. Low speed lugging grunt was highly impressive, and it dragged the heavy caravan through sand and mud. The Cooper Discoverer S/T MAXX tyres, with their aggressive tread pattern, played their part, too, as did the Seikel suspension upgrade and underbody protection. We were a bit sceptical about the kitchen unit fitted to the cool RSi aluminium canopy, as well as the two fold-up tables supplied with said canopy. But we used the tables every single day, and the kitchen proved really handy. On the open road, the only (slight) issue we had was when we needed to overtake slower traffic that was travelling around 110km/h. The Volksie didn’t pick up speed very quickly despite the engine revving around the 4 000r/min mark. This meant each overtaking move required careful planning.
At that speed, the wind and weight drag of the caravan, and the heavy load the bakkie carried seemed to hold the Amarok back quite a lot. Other than that, we can hardly fault the performance. Driving off-road in the sand and mud virtually doubled the Amarok’s consumption. On the open road, cruising at around 110km/h, the VW sipped a more reasonable 12.5 litres/100km. That’s another test. Passed.
Distance received/now 1 045km/23 041 km
Distance completed 21 996km
Average fuel consumption 10.3 litres/100km
Selling price new R580 200
Service plan Five-year/90 000km
Why do we have it To see if the AT model can live an off-road life