The best bakkie in South Africa – based on Average Joe’s needs

The VW Amarok 3.0TDI V6 4Motion Canyon has been voted bakkie of the year, by Leisure Wheels magazine.

The German bakkie, up against nine other double cab bakkies for the crown, scored 90.5% ahead of Ford’s Ranger Raptor (86.3%) and Toyota’s Hilux 2.8GD-6 Legend 50 (85.4%).

Leisure Wheels said that its new competition format was based on Average Joe’s bakkie requirements, “and not flippant matters such as 0–100km/h acceleration times.

Instead, the competition focused on real-world issues such as fuel consumption, load carrying ability, towing, safety, handling, 4×4 ability, interior, long-term ownership and, counting 20% of the overall score, a subjective driving test score, as adjudged by five industry experts and professional drivers, the magazine said.

The Leisure Wheels team, supported by independent vehicle dynamics test experts, spent a week at the Gerotek Vehicle Test facility, putting the bakkies through a variety of dynamic tests, collecting comparable data.

This data was incorporated in the different segments to ensure a more scientific approach to the results, instead of merely offering the opinion of a panel of judges, it said.

To ensure an even more comprehensive approach, the bakkies were subjected to a dynamometer test at Dastek Automotive Service City to determine actual horsepower at the wheels. This, combined with weighing each vehicle on Gerotek’s specialised scales, provided actual power-to-weight ratio results, which proved very interesting indeed.

Some of the results are bound to be controversial, Leisure Wheels  said.

“For one, the Mitsubishi Triton, a pre-event favourite, took some hard knocks in the long-term ownership segment, where its parts bin comparison result proved an eye-watering 322% more expensive than the most affordable bakkie in this particular comparison, the Isuzu D-Max.

“The erstwhile Toyota Land Cruiser 79, as tough as it may be, was upstaged in the dynamic department by all the young ‘uns. The powerful Mercedes-Benz X350d, fitted with a trendy but expensive aftermarket styling package, recorded the second slowest time in the emergency double lane change test.

“And the Ford Ranger Raptor, with its cool cabin and bespoke suspension, recorded the third lowest power-to-weight ratio result – adding impetus to the school of thought that it deserves more horses under the bonnet, and that more horses may have elevated the Raptor to the top spot on the podium.”


  1. Volkswagen Amarok 3.0TDI 4Motion Canyon AT – 90.5%
  2. Ford Ranger Raptor – 86.3%
  3. Toyota Hilux 2.8GD-6 4×4 Legend 50 (manual) – 85.4%
  4. Ford Ranger 2.0 Bi-Turbo 4×4 Wildtrak AT – 83.4%
  5. Mercedes-Benz X350d 4Matic – 81.6%
  6. Isuzu D-Max 3.0DT 4×4 LX (manual) – 78.9%
  7. Nissan Navara 2.3D 4×4 Stealth AT – 78.8%
  8. Mitsubishi Triton 2.4Di-D 4×4 AT – 75.9%
  9. Mahindra Pik Up 2.2CRDe 4×4 Karoo – 70.4%
  10. Toyota Land Cruiser 79 Namib – 64.2%

“Our aim with this test was to focus on real-world factors that affect real bakkie owners, and to go the full nine yards establishing those results. For the fuel consumption test, conducted on Gerotek’s high speed oval, we devised a set route that included stop-and-pull-off simulations, full throttle overtaking simulations, as well as slow and high speed laps.

“We also added 190kg to the ‘bak’, so the results are what consumers can realistically expect to achieve, on a daily basis,” said Leisure Wheels’ Danie Botha.

The segments were created with real-world factors top of mind, the magazine said. Like the weight-carrying ability segment, which comprised several sub segments. With a 500kg load on the ‘bak’, rear sagging was recorded. In-gear acceleration (80–120km/h) was measured, as was emergency braking (100–0km/h) – all with that half-a-ton load.

“We also added actual payload capability to this equation. Manufacturers often claim their product can carry X amount of weight but in reality, that amount is but a pipedream,” he said.

The team weighed all the bakkies with a full tank of fuel, plus the same driver. Then this weight was subtracted from the stated gross vehicle mass (GVM). The difference is what the bakkie, by law, can actually carry.

What set the Amarok apart?

“It’s certainly not perfect,” said Botha. “It didn’t score well in the 4×4 ability, long-term ownership and safety segments. But for the rest, it really is a solid, classy package.

“It seems VW’s engineers worked some kind of magic with the leaf-sprung rear suspension, offering an SUV-like ride on all surfaces. And that V6 engine… here’s a bakkie that will outrun many hot hatches between traffic lights, yet it can carry nearly a ton on the bak.”

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The best bakkie in South Africa – based on Average Joe’s needs