Lifestyle vehicles for different budgets

Lifestyle vehicle par excellence: VW Amarok Canyon V6 TDi

WHAT IS IT?

This is one of South Africa’s most powerful bakkies, and one of the most comfortable, too. A lifestyle vehicle with few peers, the V6 Amarok is a delectable beast, and the Canyon special edition adds a bit of bling. 

WHY THIS?

So many of us crave a double cab for our active lifestyles, which only really happens on weekends. For the rest of the time (five-sevenths of our week, at least), we drive on tar with nothing in the bakkie’s bin. And for this 5/7 blend of real-life versus lifestyle, nothing can match the VW Amarok.

OUTSIDE

It’s a behemoth, the Amarok – long, wide and high. And despite having been around for a while, in terms of appearance, the Amarok still holds its own in the company of every other bakkie on the market. The Canyon special edition adds a few tasty titbits: the ‘honey orange’ colour is unique to the Canyon, as are the 17-inch Aragua alloy wheels. The door handles, roll bar and side steps are all matte black, while the wheel arches have been widened and clad in black. Then there are a few stickers to round things off. 

INSIDE

The very car-like interior of the Amarok has been bolstered by Canyon-badged partial leather seats with ‘honey orange’ stitching as well as embroidered floor mats, while orange stitching can also be found on the seat belts and the multifunction steering wheel.

Then there are the usual Amarok V6 features, such as PDC with rear-view camera, sound system with App-Connect, six airbags, tyre pressure monitor and Bi-Xenon headlights. It’s a very sumptuous place, the interior of an Amarok.

THE DRIVE

Perhaps the greatest appeal of this particular Amarok is the 3-litre V6 turbodiesel engine under the hood. It’s a familiar engine to many of us, starring in great cars from the VW Touareg to the big Audi saloons, but its familiarity doesn’t mean you should underestimate it. With power of 165Kw and torque of 550Nm, the V6 is in our opinion the best powerplant to be found in a bakkie in South Africa. There is even an overboost function where the power output is increased to 180kW and torque to 580Nm for about 10 seconds. An 8-speed automatic gearbox is perfectly mated to this engine, while the 4Motion 4x4 system makes the Canyon good in the rough stuff.

Almost as important as the power is the ride comfort and quality – the Amarok is definitely the most SUV-like in terms of ride comfort, be it on tar roads or dirt.

FINAL WORD

Yes, R800,000 is a lot of money for a bakkie, but compare the Amarok Canyon to equivalent SUVs and it starts looking like good value. It’s not the bakkie to buy as a workhorse – there are better options for that – but it is one of the best performing all-rounders out there.

GO GET IT

The Volkswagen Amarok Canyon 3.0 TDI V6 is priced at R799,000, including a 5-year/90,000km service plan and a 3-year/100,000km warranty. Visit www.vw.co.za for more information.

Going places: Hyundai Venue

WHAT IS IT?

I’m not going to lie to you, the Hyundai range of SUVs is now big enough to be confusing. Basically, the Venue is the latest, and it slots into the line-up at the bottom, below the Creta. Then there’s the Kona before the two that we’re all familiar with: the Tucson and Santa Fe. In summary, the Venue is a compact SUV to battle against the likes of the Ford EcoSport, Renault Captur and VW T-Cross.

WHY THIS?

You simply cannot argue with the value that the Venue offers. Priced from R274,900, it has to be one of the best bang-for-buck propositions on the market, taking into account the safety features, service plan, warranty, interior features, space and performance.

OUTSIDE

There will be people who love the Venue (probably a majority) and there will be people who think the design is a bit confused. It’s a bit like Benedict Cumberbatch, I suppose. A vast Hyundai grille dominates the front end, where the combination of big square fog lights and narrow headlamps is a bit fussy. Opinion of the rear will be less divided – it’s handsome verging on classy. The entry level Motion grade has 15-inch steel wheels with hubcaps, while the Fluid and Glide models feature 16-inch alloy rims.

INSIDE

You can’t fault the interior of the Venue. Somehow it feels spacious, despite being a compact car, and the 8-inch screen of the Fluid and Glide models adds a premium feel. Unfortunately, the Motion models have a smaller 3.8-inch mono LCD display, but corners needed to be cut to get the price down. In terms of safety, all models have ABS braking with Electronic Stability Control (ESC), as well as Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), which balances braking forces at each wheel when the car is dynamically loaded, and Brake Assist which provides maximum ABS-level braking force to the driver when an emergency stop is necessary. All Venues also come with Hill Start Assist Control. Fluid and Glide models have six airbags, while the Motion has just a pair up front.

THE DRIVE

As is the norm these days, the Venue makes use of a little turbocharged petrol engine, in this case with three cylinders and a capacity of one litre. Peak power is 88kW while maximum torque is a very impressive 172Nm. Performance is peppy and the Venue is engaging to drive, be it with the 6-speed manual or 7-speed dual clutch automatic transmission. Fuel consumption is claimed to be 6.5L/100km and 6.9L/100km for the manual and auto respectively.

FINAL WORD

Value is the Venue’s biggest selling point, but by no means its only one. This is a great all-round compact for just about anyone looking for a funky commuter-crossover.

GO GET IT

The Hyundai Venue is priced from R274,900 up to R369,900. Don’t forget that this includes the incredible 7-year/200,000km warranty and 7-year/150,000km roadside assistance, as well as a 3-year/45,000km service plan. Visit www.hyundai.co.za for more information.

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