Tough enough to tow? Tow Test: VW Amarok

Words: Mark Samuel Pics: Mark Samuel and Volkswagen South Africa

It’s big, it looks good, and it’s a VW. But it’s only a 2.0-litre diesel. Should you be seriously considering an Amarok as your next brawny towcar? We drove it, towed with it, and drew our own conclusions.

It’s the new kid on the block, and for some reason there’s already a rumour circulating that it can’t tow. Some vehemently agree, while others claim that it more than holds its own from a towing perspective in the cut-throat double-cab segment.

Sure, this diesel bakkie only has a displacement of 1968 cm3, but during our tow test it made a compelling case for itself as a ‘capable tow vehicle’.

VW Amarok Tow Test

Let’s look at the facts. Firstly, something incidental: the name Amarok comes from the language of the Inuit people, and means ‘wolf’; quite apt, I think. Now down to the important stuff: there are two Amarok engines: the 90 kW 2.0 TDI, which features a single turbo and delivers – you guessed it – 90 kW of power and 340 Nm of torque; and that of our test vehicle, the top of the range model, the 120 kW 2.0 BiTDI variant, which has two turbos – a smaller turbo that functions at lower revs, and a larger turbo that operates in the higher rev range, which means that the engine never has to be pushed too hard to attain maximum results. This engine delivers 120 kW and 400 Nm of torque. Those aren’t shabby specs for what is fundamentally a small displacement engine in the burly world of big double-cabs. Just consider: the 3.0-litre turbo-diesel Toyota Hilux gives you 343 Nm of torque and the Ford Ranger 3.0-litre turbo-diesel delivers 380 Nm. Interesting. The Amarok’s torque curve is also just what you’re looking for in a towcar – maximum torque at low revs: a throaty 1500 rpm, in fact, is when the 400 Nm kick in.

Fuel consumption is exemplary. I averaged 9.2 l/100 km with the Amarok on its own during normal town driving. Towing a sizeable Jurgens Classique caravan (GVM 1490 kg) at an average speed of 100 km/h on our set tow-test route, we achieved a remarkable 12.8 l/100 km.

Aesthetics analysis

But before we explore the towing aspects in more depth, what about the physical attributes of this new contender?

Well, in my opinion it’s a fantastic looking bakkie, one of the best around for sure. The looks suggest that it’s tough and can handle any terrain. Seeing one of these up close in your rear-view mirror won’t be a sight you forget quickly. My only qualm with the exterior is the puny-looking tyres. The 120 kW Amarok comes standard with 245/65 R17 Bridgestone Dueler HT tyres, with an unimpressive tread pattern. These tyres look too small for the bakkie, but we’re told that they should graft through most of what you throw at them. Personally I’d feel happier with bigger tyres, in the 265/75 R17 category, with a more aggressive tread pattern…

To read the full article, order a copy of the April 2011 issue of Caravan & Outdoor Life.

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