THE BENEFITS OF MANUAL LABOUR
L ET’S JUST pump the brakes a bit on the whole ‘the manual gearbox is dead’ mantra. Sure, it’s on the endangered list, but little green shoots of life occasionally spring up, like here with the just-launched V6-powered Volkswagen Amarok ute.
The V6 variant accounts for almost 90 percent of all private Amarok sales in Australia, which isn’t surprising when you consider it makes around 100Nm more than its four-cylinder stablemate, is smoother and more refined, and doesn’t cost huge additional money.
This six-speed stick-shift addition to the line-up means this Amarok is the only V6-powered manual dual-cab on sale in Australia. Niche, yes. But worthy? We reckon it is.
The gearbox itself is the same transmission used in the four-cylinder Amarok variants, but the components have been strengthened to cope with the increased torque running through it.
Having said that, peak torque of 500Nm is down 50Nm compared to auto V6 variants. Power is 165kW, climbing to 180kW on overboost.
The clutch is reasonably light, with a nice positive biting point, and the shift action is medium-weighted with a positive, notchy action. There’s ample torque from the V6 on tap early, so planting the throttle provides strong urge without excessive NVH. The engine really is smooth and quiet for a diesel, and on-road the Amarok remains the most comfortable and refined of all the dual-cabs sold in Oz.
Off-road is where the manual Amarok V6 reaps the biggest benefit, with VW pairing the manual ’box with a traditional part-time 4WD system featuring a two-speed transfer case (high and low range) in lieu of the auto’s permanent single-range 4WD system. Now with a locked 50/50 torque split and low range, the manual V6 Amarok should appease 4x4 purists who questioned the auto’s full-time, single-range AWD set-up.
In addition, the manual V6 Amarok is equipped with a mechanical diff lock for extreme low-speed off-roading – ABS/ESC deactivates once the diff lock is engaged – as well as an Off-Road mode that retains ESC and includes hill-descent assist (with a control range between 2km/h and 30km/h).
One caveat: the three-pedal Amarok has a load capacity of 1004kg and less towing capacity than the V6 auto – 3000kg versus 3500kg. And on the safety front it still lacks rear and side curtain airbags, as well as AEB.
But, despite its ageing platform, the Amarok V6 remains in the upper echelon of premium dual-cab offerings, and the manual version may just makes sense for a very specific niche customer.
Manual variant also brings low-range trans and increased off-road ability
Lacks AEB and second-row safety features; less towing ability than auto
Model Volkswagen Amarok Core
Engine 2967cc V6 (900), dohc, 24v, turbo-diesel
Max power 165kW @ 4500rpm
Max torque 500Nm @ 1400-3000rpm
Transmission 6-speed manual Weight 2076kg
0-100km/h 8.4sec (estimated)
Price $49, 590
On sale Now