Road Test: Volkswagen Amarok 2.0 TSI Double Cab

For its first 12-months in South Africa, the Volkswagen Amarok was available exclusively with diesel engines. We’ve sampled the 90 kW TDI unit in the 4Motion single-cab and the 120 kW BiTDI unit in the 4Motion double cab (D/C). Later this year the range will receive another update with a 132 kW and 420 Nm diesel powerplant, as well as the choice of an 8-speed Tiptronic transmission, but there is another way to have your torque and enjoy it. It is of course, Volkswagen’s 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine.

Before we get to the nuts and bolts though, Volkswagen have established the petrol Amarok D/C as the entry point to the range. This means the Amarok TSI is only available in 4×2 drive format and only in ‘Trendline’ trim level, whether in single- or double-cab. It also means it’s the cheapest in the range, despite offering what is possibly the best bang for your buck in terms of performance.

The Trendline specification means you’ll have to make do with a little less style and creature comforts. For the exterior, this means scant chrome accents, no privacy glass on the rear windows, 16-inch wheels and a plain black rear bumper. Still, the Amarok remains pleasant enough to look at, with a masculine stance helped by the ‘square jaw’ of its front end. Inside, the Amarok TSI covers all the basics, including the seats in cloth trim, air-conditioner, 4-speaker sound system, cruise control, anti-dazle rearview mirror and more.

It’s worth noting that optional extras for the Trendline include: a safety package that consists of front side airbags, a 3rd rear head restraint and 3-point seatbelt, reinforced front seats, ISOFIX preparation, as well as a driver seatbelt reminder; ESP (electronic stabilisation programme) with brake assistant and Hill Start/Hill Descent Assist; leather covered steering wheel, gearshift and handbrake lever. Adding all these to the base price of the 2.0 TSI Trendline (R313 500), including leather seats, will set you back around 5 percent or R15 000, which isn’t too bad for the added safety and luxury feel.

Under the bodywork, the Amarok TSI rides on the same ladder-frame chassis as the rest of the range, utilising a double wishbone suspension upfront and traditional leaf spring configuration out back. The ride comfort which the Amarok is well known for is retained and, as a refresher, the D/C has a ground clearance of 192 mm, a load bin area of 2.52 sqm and a carrying capacity of 963 kgs.

The TSI’s 4-cylinder, 1 984 cc, petrol engine, uses 16-valves together with a single turbocharger to produce maximum power of 118 kW between 3 800 r/min and 5 500 r/min. Maximum torque is 300 Nm, available from 1 600 r/min to 3 750 r/min. The engine features variable valve timing, coupled with a constantly variable vane turbocharger, as well as a direct-injection fuel system (operating at 190 bar). Volkswagen says their petrol engine offers enough power to launch the Amarok to 100 km/h from standstill in 9.9 seconds and will haul the vehicle to a top speed of 180 km/h. Fuel consumption is understandably higher than the diesel 2.0-litre engines, with an average economy figure of 9.6 L/100km with CO2 emissions of 228 g/km.

As is often the case, however, the figures don’t tell the whole story. The petrol engine’s character is more responsive, free-er revving, slightly quieter, smoother and it adds a bit of ‘life’ to what is otherwise a big and heavy double-cab. There maybe less torque, but all of it is still available from 1 600 r/min and peak power is on tap way into the rev range. The result is good ‘pull’ off the line, thanks to an engine that build revs quicker than its diesel counterparts, while the benefits are also felt when it comes to overtaking, where the TSI pulls comfortably to the redline on the back of its peak power, without the characteristic search for torque of a diesel.

The 6-speed transmission remains unchanged between the petrol and diesel Amarok models. While it has been criticised by some for a snatchy first gear that can make the vehicle easy to stall, I can’t say I found it too much of an issue. Bakkies typically have a very short ratio 1st gear to aid with towing. With the Amarok 2.0 BiTDI for example, it is quite easy to pull off in 2nd gear with little, if any, clutch slip and that’s just about the case with the TSI model too. Yes, 1st does require a little finesse with your clutch and accelerator action to iron out any unwanted head-bobbing, but it’s no more than is required in most LCV-based vehicles and there are certainly far worse examples. Once on the move, the gearbox is easy to work with and changes are executed without a second thought.

The TSI petrol engine gives the Amarok a new character, a lighter, more nimble one. While it may consume more fuel, it’s also R55 000 cheaper than the 120 kW BiTDI model, which by my amateur calculations and at today’s petrol price, would require almost 50 000 km before the diesel starts paying for itself. Unless you’re doing plenty of towing, in which case the TSI will be expected to use notably more fuel than the TDI, the TSI’s easy-going character offers a refreshing alternative. In addition, if you long for the luxury of the Highline specification, you’ve got a 17 percent head start on the base price to dedicate to the options list.

What we like…

  • Well built and solid feel.
  • Perky performance in a diesel-dominated market segment.
  • Ride quality remains best in class.

What we would like…

  • A prettier cup-holder than the flimsy-looking dash-mounted one.
  • A Highline spec version.
Quick Facts
Base Price R313 500
Warranty 3 year / 100 000 km
Engine Capacity 1 984 cm³
No. Of Cylinders 4-cylinders, In-line
Aspiration Turbocharged
Power 118 kW @ 3 800 r/min
Torque 300 N.m @ 1 600 – 3 750 r/min
Transmission 6-Speed manual
Drive type Rear-wheel drive
Acceleration 0-100 km/h in 9.9 seconds (claimed)
Top Speed 180 km/h (claimed)
Fuel Consumption 9.6 l/100km (claimed combined)
CO2 Emissions 228 g/km



About Scott Hayes

Scott Hayes is the publisher and editor of the SA Car Fan website, which he founded in early 2009. Scott is a member of the SA Guild of Motoring Journalists and works behind the scenes on a daily basis to ensure you remain up-to-date with the latest motoring news. Follow Scott on Twitter.

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