By: Charles Molefe
Over the past couple of decades, the battle of the Bakkie has been a fierce and highly contested segment, you have the likes of the iconic Toyota Hilux, Ford Ranger which is the relatively new kid on the block and the luxurious Mercedes-Benz X-Class. I recently took a trip to the Sterkfontein Nature Reserve and my steed for the weekend was the Volkswagen AMAROK DARK LABEL, it’s not my first time being acquainted with a Bakkie from Wolfsburg and I certainly hope it won’t be the last.
The DARK LABEL is a special model that aims to take over the luxurious baton, it hosts several special options that set it apart from the AMAROK line-up. The options include black side sills, smoked tailgates and rear tinted windows, however, what sets it apart is the MAXE Matte black style bar and the highly attractive power RAWSON twisted alloy wheels. The combination of these small yet distinguishing features conjures several road users to stop, stare and wonder which AMAROK it is. At times I did feel a little special whilst trotting down the N12 and N3 in what I consider to be the most comfortable Bakkie in town. The heated seats provide you with ample support and cater to passengers like no other.
The entertainment sphere is catered to by an intuitive 6.33-inch touch screen that powers no less than six passive speakers, entertainment selections include, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, RADIO, USB, AUX and Bluetooth connectivity. The audio system is extremely impressive and provides a rich sound that covers the audio spectrum with ease. Features like voice control, power windows, mobile phone interface and headlight range control are just a snippet of what you can expect as a prospective owner.
A factor that we often tend to overlook is the safety and security that a Bakkie provides, in the case of the AMAROK, it has managed to pass the Euro NCAP tests by obtaining a safety rating of four stars. The videos of the crash tests can be viewed in the below link.
Performance and off-road utility.
The DARK LABEL is powered by the tried and tested 2.0 BiTDI that produces 132kW and 420Nm of torque, power is sent to all four wheels through the use of Volkswagen’s 4MOTION system. During my test tenure, there was never a moment where power was inadequate in any shape or form, overtaking is made easy by the monstrous amounts of torque which in turn enables you to manoeuvre out of what I would deem a tricky situation.
Volkswagen claims a 0-100 km/h time of 11.3 seconds and I do believe the claims, the DARK LABEL is no slouch, especially when you consider that it weighs a tad over 1900 kgs. Not only is the DARK LABEL a very capable highway cruiser it will also chew and spit out the most challenging of surfaces whilst maintaining its composure.
The DARK LABEL features a 4×4 mode that enables the car to crawl down a steep decline without much driver intervention, this safety system automatically maintains a steady speed and ensures that the driver does not head onto the wrong side of the mountain face. The approach and departure angle is listed as 28/23.6 degrees respectively, this is more than sufficient to show off to lesser beings that have chosen an alternative steed.
Towing capacity is rated at up to 3500kg and will easily gulp up kit for a weekend away, to give you an idea, we had five members during our trip and all members had packed an overnight bag, a 24L cooler box and a blanket to boot. But In all honestly, I was fooled at how much the DARK LABEL can carry, the vehicle is surprisingly spacious.
The time spent with the AMAROK DARK LABEL will always be cherished and remain as the best series of moments one can experience. Every time we climbed into the bakkie a different feature was highlighted by the passengers. I am extremely impressed at how the DARK LABEL is capable of being the perfect car, it seats five, can easily give a hatch or two a hiding down the strip and will gladly go off-road without much hassle.
Any vehicle that can check all the necessary boxes and still have a decent price tag to go along with it is certainly a winner in my books. I often wondered why many people are going the 4X4/SUV route? It all makes sense, discard the hefty price tag that sedans carry and go for a versatile vehicle that will ensure that you get home irrespective of the terrain.
8.9 / 10
- A three-year or 100 000km manufacturer warranty.
- 5-year / 90,000 km Volkswagen EasyDrive Vehicle Service Plan.
- 15,000 km service intervals
- 6-year anti-corrosion warranty