REVIEW: Volkswagen Amarok 3.0 V6 Aventura impresses with its sophistication

Published Jul 17, 2023


Made here in South Africa at Ford’s Silverton plant for export around the globe, Volkswagen’s Amarok continues to have a loyal customer base.

Enough has been said and written about the Amarok sharing the same oily bits as the Ford Ranger save to say that this is a lot more than just a rebadge.

By all accounts the arrangement between Ford and Volkswagen is turning out a lot better than the joint venture between Mercedes Benz and Nissan with Merc’s X-Class that ended in the demise of the latter’s venture into the double cab market.

When the Amarok was launched globally in Cape Town the engineers and designers at VW were at pains to explain that it was a collaboration between the two companies and in fact the Americans had learnt a thing or two from the Germans.

Which brings us to the Volkswagen Amarok 3.0-litre V6 Aventura that we recently had on test.

While white remains a popular colour, the Mid Blue that our test unit came in is particularly striking.

The Aventura stands at the top of the Amarok pile as its premium double cab offering and it’s safe to say that it deserves to have that title especially because the time has long gone that bakkies were merely utilitarian.

I mean it even has a nifty electric load bay roller activated from the key fob.

The interior is as plush as you’ll find in any top-end SUV or sedan and the ride quality isn’t far off either.

The Aventura has the Ford-sourced 3.0-litre V6 turbocharged engine under the bonnet, producing 184kW and 600Nm, and coupled to a ten-speed automatic transmission.

Depending on what mode you’re in it drives either the rear wheels in 2H or when it’s in 4A it will direct power to any wheel when needed depending on the driving situation.

I would recommend 4A simply because when driving normally power is sent to the rear but if things go awry and you need to avoid an incident it’s better to let the electronics take over than your own perceived brilliant driving skills.

It’s easily adjusted by a dial on the centre console which also happens to have the 4H and 4L offroad options.

The interior stands up well against other VW products we’ve become accustomed to that are imported from Europe, with quality leather, stitching, soft dash, aluminium inlays and power adjusted heated seats for the front, adding up to a very premium-feeling cockpit.

I did notice that there weren’t cup holders at the front side vents, which Ford introduced now and the Hilux has had for ages, perhaps it would then seem too much of a clone.

The 12.3-inch digital instrument panel is the same as Ford’s but with entirely different software and settings that provide clear graphics and can be configured to suit your preferences.

The large 12-inch infotainment system that we have become accustomed to, like the instrument panel, is Ford but the software Volkswagen.

I stand to be corrected but it felt quicker and more responsive than its direct competition.

There are USB A and C charging points in the front while the rear comes with a 12V socket and a 230V inverter.

Below the screen are switches that send you to settings menus and driving modes including climate control which was a bit distracting as I adjusted it accordingly during the recent cold spell.

The volume control is thankfully a large dial that’s easy to adjust.

No doubt the perfect match to the Aventura is that V6 diesel engine. Even when you push the start button, it just feels right as it slowly idles away waiting for your inputs.

Acceleration is swift but not unnerving and a lot more linear and refined than the model it replaces. The 10-speed ‘box changes smoothly even if pushed hard when overtaking and it feels a lot sportier than some of its rivals.

The driving position is comfortable as are the seats, which went a long way to me not cramping up after having been stuck on the highway behind an accident exacerbated by loadshedding on the offramps.

Standing on 21-inch wheels, the ride is slightly firm but not intrusive and the tuning that VW has done on the suspension is spot on.

I live out pretty much in the sticks on a gravel road that doesn’t get much attention from the municipality, despite it also being an Eskom access road.

Playing around with the various settings and driving modes the bakkie stays remarkably stable considering it was unladen and is a body-on-frame chassis.

The steering is well weighted and driving hard around long bends and corners body roll is well controlled and at no stage did it become uncomfortable which is impressive considering its size and 2 248kg weight.

We averaged 10.4l/100km with a decent combination of city and highway driving.

The Aventura is fitted with highway terrain tyres but it does have all the serious goodies for a weekend of 4x4 fun, that’s if you don’t mind taking a R1 138 200 double cab with 21-inch rims into the bush.

The Volkswagen Amarok comes with a four-year/120 000km warranty, a five-year/100 000km EasyDrive Maintenance Plan and a 6-year anti-corrosion warranty. The service interval is 15 000km.