The Volkswagen bakkie is almost ten years old. And the Germans are celebrating it with a special model, the honey orange metallic Canyon. Reason enough for me to take it on a special trip.
The sheer drop to my left is several hundred meters of protruding rocks. I just managed to tackle a steep, sheer stone face, not easy with muddy tyres. Now the track is only slightly wider than the Amarok I am sitting in. And it is still climbing up towards the blue sky. I have now reached the snow line. To the left and right the flanks of the mountain are covered in a white blanket. But I have to reach the top first, before I can enjoy this to the fullest.
I am not in the Austrian Alps or the Canadian Rockies, I am about 2 ½ hours Northeast of Cape Town, just outside Ceres, in the private Matroosberg Nature Reserve.
Their challenging 4×4 trail to the top in 2240 meters is open all year, but in June and July, after some heavy rains, combined with low temperatures, the landscape transforms itself into a snowy winter wonderland.
I started very early this morning, as last time I missed the cut-off time for entry onto the trail. It’s 11am. Up until then oneway traffic is going up the mountain – and down in the afternoon. Marshalls on quads are strictly controlling the access. You definitely don’t want to meet another 4×4 on this narrow, steep dirt road with deep ruts, filled with icy water and covered in snow.
On my way up from Cape Town I thoroughly enjoyed the Amarok Canyon’s potent 3.0-l. V6 powerplant on windy Du Toitskloof Pass. The torque is amazing and the Amarok easily pulls out of bends. The ZF sourced 8-speed gear box, shifts smoothly and just at the right time. The only fact reminding you, that you are in a pickup, is the rather rough ride, especially on bumpy Bain’s Kloof Pass. But with a heavy load in the back, the ride gets smoother.
The first Amarok was launched in September 2010, followed by the 3.0-l. V6 TDI 4Motion in 2017 and the Canyon is the latest special edition of the very well-accepted Volksie bakkie. It has an overboost functionality with 180kW and 580Nm on demand and for ten seconds. Just like what you get in the racy family members from Zuffenhausen.
And the Canyon looks stunning in honey orange metallic. The paint job contrasts beautifully with lush green and glittering white backgrounds. It features matte black door handles, a black radiator grille, chrome-plated body-coloured exterior mirrors, black wheel arches, Canyon decals, unique 17-inch Aragua alloy wheels and – my favourite – partial leather seats with honey orange coloured stitching and seatbelts with orange seams. Even the black leather wrapped steering wheel has some orange detailing.
The super bright standard Bi-Xenon headlights pierced through the misty darkness in the early morning, now the LED daytime running lights took over.
I finally reach the row of neatly parked 4x4s on top of the snow-covered mountain. People are gunning down the white slopes on body boards, building snowmen, doing snow angels and simply having a good time, enjoying this rare sight. And the best is yet to come, the long steep ride back down into the valley.
Volkswagen Amarok V6 3.0 Canyon
Engine 3.0-l. V6 diesel, paired with an 8-speed auto
Power 165kW and 550Nm
Top Speed 197 km/h
0-100km/h 8 seconds
Price R799 000
Matroosberg Nature Reserve
Phone: 023-312 22 82
R250 per vehicle
R65 per adult
R65 entrance fee for day visitors to the reserve