Volkswagen Amarok V6 Canyon

Plucky Amarok V6 Canyon kit splits opinion

A few months ago, the King of Bakkies was under threat. Alas, its worthy rival never lasted very long at all and now, almost as if to celebrate its newly undisputed crown, Volkswagen has introduced a cute spec Canyon pack for its celebrated Amarok 3.0 V6 TDI.

While it was never unique, nor groundbreaking, we heralded the arrival of the big diesel V6 Amarok as a major step forward in the world of bakkies 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 170kW 550Nm Navara back in 2010 and of course the Mercedes X350d hardly lased a year before it was 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 may 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 with chromed wing mirrors and trim rounded off by butch Aragua 17-inch alloys.

Standard Canyon attractions include Bi-Xenon DRL LED daytime running headlights, front and rear parking assistance with a camera at the rear too and 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 and 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 constant all-wheel drive, they say that this Amarok V6 does not need a low range thanks to its widespread eight autobox cogs and all that grunt. They have a point – it’s most effective off-road, doing what expect from a double cab 4x4 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 black Canyon bits for that extra pizzazz that 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

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