A selection of Malaysian motoring journalista were given an extension to the recent media drive event, immediately after testing the latest generation Golf 7 in Sardinia.

The 2nd leg of our European trip, squeezed into a flight-packed 4 day trip took us close to the heart of VW land.

We were greeted at the airport by a line of fifth generation VW T5 to transport us to the Hotel and dinner upon arrival in Hannover.  The T5’s transported us again first thing the next morning to Wessendorf, within radius sight of Wolfburg (home of VW). This medium-sized people mover will surely find many admirers in Malaysia given her ruggedness and niche desirability. We wondered if it was a deliberate attempt by VW Malaysia to give a flavour of things to come from the VW Commercial Vehicle Division.

It was at the Sudheide offroad track the next day, that VW had paraded several variants of the Amarok for us to test drive.

The drive included a mixture of scenic country side roads to the famous autobahn and finally some off-road driving at the track.

 On-road drive

After wiping off the icicles on the tonneau cover, we set off on our 2.0 TDI 90 kW/120 hp model. This vehicle produced 340Nm @ 2250 rpm, 4 Motion all-wheel drive and has 8-speed automatic transmission. We were pleasantly surprised with the overall drive comfort. The left-hand drive Amarok took instructions effortlessly despite us having to get accustomed to driving on the other side of the road. It was safe driving through the scenic country side even when we swayed our focus off the road, to savour some of the Germany’s countryside beauty and the majestic VW’s own Powerplant in Wolfsburg during our drive.

There is generous leg + head room and the drive on the Autobahn was pretty normal as what you’d expect from any 2 liter double cab; smooth drive at 110 but straining at 140 km/h! Depending on one’s reason for purchase, VW has always been noted for their small diesel, big torque and low consumption.

Static Observations

Blindfolded, one could easily identify that the vehicle has a typical VW lineage; the dashboard buttons, switches and centre console layout seem very Polo..ish! Interior trim finishing was adequate on the models we tested and was a “silent” topic of conversation; less than positive amongst the journalist on this mission. The engine bay could do with some help from VW designers; giving some inputs with better layout of high pressure lines, cables and tidying up the piping. Ultimately it will be wise to think of what the customer would like to see, ease of service and repair from a technician’s point of view.

Standing very much upright, it typifies your average German; tall, well-built and steadfast.

The off-road drive

We chose the more powerful 2.0 BiTDI engine for 2nd drive part with permanent 4 wheel drive and with a differential lock. Power was smoothly transferred throughout our not so difficult terrain. With 420Nm torque at our throttle pedal, we were hard-pressed to go into 3rd gear even with a maximum 1 tonne payload at low speeds when added, we were told.

There were sufficient 45 degree inclines, descents and 1 meter deep water closures, one challenge after another to give proof that the Amarok was nimble during our very brief one hour test.

 amarok

Our Verdict

All signs seem to be pointing towards VW enlarging the product offerings in the Malaysian market within a very short time. With 2 two production sites currently producing the Amarok ie at Pacheco (Argentina) and Hannover (Germany), it won’t be long before Volkswagen opts for a 3rd production site to take advantage of the low import duty within Asean and local tax structure if it is to be offered at the local stables.

The Malaysian pick-up segment currently dominated by Toyota.  Mitsubishi, Isuzu and Nissan will be being seeing heightened competition from the recently launched Ford Ranger with interior qualities and fittings, traditionally available only on passenger cars. If anything to go by, VW will be seeking a slice of this market share of 43,847 vehicles per year(2011 MAA Pick-up sales figures). This will require product strategies and price positioning never seen before despite their engineering prowess and the increasing appeal for vehicles in this segment.

Our take is that VW Malaysia will continue to make waves with a “lifestyle edition” and enough to shake things a little in this segment. Before long, you will be able to take your Amarok to any one of the latest opened dealerships around the country…….I hope the VW dealers have incorporated this in their showroom and workshop design plans.

Specifications

Engine: 2 liter, 1968 cc in line 4-cylinder, BiTDIl
Max power: 180hp (132kW) @ 4,000rpm
Max torque: 420Nm @ 1,750rpm
Transmission: 8-speed Automatic
Top speed: 182km/h
Fuel consumption (combined): 8L/100km

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Devindran draws upon his vast 24 years Motor industry experience and exposure to different brands. As Managing Director and Principal Consultant of his company, Devindran has the passion and knack for turning Dealerships fixed operations into profitable, performance oriented and a sustainable business pillar through his own style and approach to life.

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