VW Amarok Canyon the most fun Leisure Bakkie

VW Amarok Canyon

The VW Amarok 3.0TDI V6 4Motion Canyon is Leisure Wheels magazine’s Bakkie of the Year.

The German bakkie, up against nine other double cab bakkies for the crown, scored 90.5% ahead of Ford’s Ranger Raptor (86.3%) and Toyota’s Hilux 2.8GD-6 Legend 50 (85.4%). The new competition format revolves around Average Joe’s bakkie requirements, and not flippant matters such as 0–100km/h acceleration times.

Instead, the competition focused on real-world issues such as fuel consumption, load carrying ability, towing, safety, handling, 4×4 ability, interior, long-term ownership and, counting 20% of the overall score, a subjective driving test score, as adjudged by five industry experts and professional drivers.

The Leisure Wheels test lab.

The results are:
1) Volkswagen Amarok 3.0TDI 4Motion Canyon AT 90.5%
2) Ford Ranger Raptor 86.3%
3) Toyota Hilux 2.8GD-6 4×4 Legend 50 (manual) 85.4%
4) Ford Ranger 2.0 Bi-Turbo 4×4 Wildtrak AT 83.4%
5) Mercedes-Benz X350d 4Matic 81.6%
6) Isuzu D-Max 3.0DT 4×4 LX (manual) 78.9%
7) Nissan Navara 2.3D 4×4 Stealth AT 78.8%
8) Mitsubishi Triton 2.4Di-D 4×4 AT 75.9%
9) Mahindra Pik Up 2.2CRDe 4×4 Karoo 70.4%
10) Toyota Land Cruiser 79 Namib 64.2%

The Raptor is wide and has an almost mean stance.

“Our aim with this test was to focus on real-world factors that affect real bakkie owners, and to go the full nine yards establishing those results. For the fuel consumption test, conducted on Gerotek’s high speed oval, we devised a set route that included stop-and-pull-off simulations, full throttle overtaking simulations, as well as slow and high speed laps. We also added 190kg to the bak, so the results are what consumers can realistically expect to achieve, on a daily basis,” explains Leisure Wheels’ Danie Botha.

And what is it about the Amarok that set it apart from the rest of the pack? Is it really perfect in every which way?

“It’s certainly not perfect,” says Botha. “It didn’t score well in the 4×4 ability, long-term ownership and safety segments. But for the rest, it really is a solid, classy package. It seems VW’s engineers worked some kind of magic with the leaf-sprung rear suspension, offering an SUV-like ride on all surfaces. And that V6 engine… here’s a bakkie that will outrun many hot hatches between traffic lights, yet it can carry nearly a ton on the bak.”

The March issue, featuring the comprehensive Bakkie of the Year report, goes on sale on Monday, 17 February. More detailed results in the respective segments will be published on leisurewheels.co.za.

Nissan Navara 4×2 review

Nissan Navarra 2.3D LE 4X2 AT DC

After building bakkies for 77 years for its own brand, among them the evergreen NP300 Hardbody and the 1400 of my youth; and now building bakkies for Renault and Mercedes as well you would be forgiven for thinking they know how to build the things. Judging by the Navara, they do know.

The Navara is very close to the complete bakkie. Space, performance, poise, great fuel consumption, comfort and very capable, this Nissan does it all.

Nissan Navara LE 4×2 Auto

The specification level on this bakkie is very high. From things you expect like fog lights to some more exotic items like heated door mirrors. It is a match for any SUV when it comes to equipment.
Leather seats, power steering, climate control, infotainment centre, it has all the stuff you may want. A nice touch is a hollow in the dash with a power point, ideal for any powered electronic equipment from GPS to dashcam.

This Navara has no less than 37 safety and security items from ABS to VDC (vehicle dynamic control) check them out on the website for yourself at https://www.nissan.co.za/vehicles/new/New-Navara/Specifications.html#grade-D23-3|equipment.

I particularly love the rear camera with sensors and the 360° camera system which displays a rear image and an overhead image in the rear mirror. It makes this rather large and very long bakkie much more manoeuvrable and somehow smaller.

The cabin has been well designed and appears to be well screwed together. The driver’s seat is electrically adjustable and very comfortable. Rear legroom is good. There are a number of storage bins and places to keep things.

The highly capable 2.3 L twin-turbo common rail direct injection diesel engine pushes out a very respectable 140kW and 450Nm. Coupled with the smooth optional 7-speed automatic transmission as was the case in the bakkie we tested, it is a joy to drive and much more like a car than a truck, but you can still tow a 3,5 ton braked trailer and you have 229mm ground clearance.

The heavy duty 5-link coil rear spring suspension probably helps to make it act more like an SUV as well.
Nissan claim a combined average fuel consumption of 7 L/100 km, and the bakkie I drove indicated a lifetime economy of just that, but I drove mostly in town and averaged around 11 L/100 km. Still good for a vehicle this size.

At the back the Utili-track tie down system in the 1,5 m loadbay is a boon. The 1,36 m wide tailgate can be opened with one hand and appears to be very sturdy.
We previously tested the 4×4 and found it to be capable off-road. We can say that this 4×2 is really capable on road. Not having to lug the extra 4×4 kit wherever you go means all round performance is better and fuel economy even more so.

Nissan Navara LE 4×2

The Navara competes directly with the Mercedes X class, Volkswage Amarok, Ford Ranger and Toyota HiLux. The Isuzu D-max is more truck-like and the Mitsubishi Triton slightly smaller and more wieldy. Don’t forget the super tough Mahindra and the capable and extremely good value for money GWM Steed 5 and slightly bigger Steed 6.

Prices start at R484 900 for the SE Manual, we tested the 4×2 LE Auto at R575 500.
Three years or 90 000 km is the warranty you get.