Bakkie Wars: GWM P-series versus Volkswagen Amarok PanAmericana

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Bakkie Wars: GWM P-series versus Volkswagen Amarok PanAmericana

Prashirwin Naidu

If you're budget-conscious but want a feature-packed bakkie, the GWM P-series Limited, priced at R694,950, stands out as a sensible option. This article delves into the contrast between opting for a more affordable bakkie like the GWM P-series and its higher-end counterpart, the Volkswagen Amarok PanAmericana.

On the first drive in the P-Series, I was wowed; affordability, a tech-laden cabin, and many safety features were aspects of writing home about. But the drive was the ultimate catalyst, a disappointing factor to its package. 

The P-Series was endowed with a 2.0l turbo diesel engine, pushing 120Kw and 400Nm of torque, paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission, which tended to be jerky at takeoffs during intersections. Fuel consumption was fair, precisely 10.l/100km.

It made me resent its poor suspension, unrefined tendencies to be laggy during takeoff, and lacklustre feel compared to the Amarok. 

The most pertinent aspect was the overall drive, and deciphering between the two was relatively easy; honestly, I was only partially sold on the experience with the P-Series. Yes, it's cheaper, but it doesn't mean it's worth it. 

Suppose GWM gave the P-series a better suspension and motor and removed that snorkel, an irritant at high speeds. In that case, the P-series would be a well-balanced bakkie. 

Now, the PanAmericana is pricey, coming in at R1 084 000. Still, it doesn't shy away from ticking all the boxes. 

Now, how were its road manners? I was much more at peace in the PanAmericana. 

Firstly, its plushness and refinement were on par—a masterpiece. Nestling beneath the bonnet is an engine from Ford, which is still phenomenal. Go "Fordarok!"

It's powered by a beefy 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel engine paired with a smooth ten-speed gearbox. In this aspect, with power, you can't compare the two. The Amarok pushes out 184Kw and 600Nm of torque.

Not only does the PanAmericana feel nimble, but it's also an easy steed to move around tactfully and efficiently. It simply glides over any rugged terrain with grace and ease. And off-roading, this bakkie was a true trooper, very well-balanced, and honestly impressed me. Fuel-wise, I achieved 11.1km/100km.

Unlike the P-series, the PanAmericana's design is modern and sleek, without superfluous elements that could impede performance.

However, the P-series looks like an adventure-driven bakkie, but the snorkel, steel sidesteps, and steel bumpers don't make sense. It's odd because I would like to think that those bumpers and side skirts add to the vehicle's weight, further hindering performance. 

Interior set-ups, in summation, the Amarok's interior was minimalistic but tastefully done. Still, the P-series was old school and had a lot more solid icons, which I don't mind, but the quality was not the greatest if you looked up and closely; the Amarok at least offered something that raised the bar in the realm of having modern flair with a hint of class and minimalism. 

Key features of the P-series include LED daytime running lights, an outdated nine-inch touchscreen system compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and standard safety features like ABS brakes and EBD. Its interior has leatherette accents, but the sound system and overall quality could be improved.

The PanAmericana stands out with its muscular design, IQ Matrix headlights, and elegant Clear White exterior with black signage. It offers a comfortable interior with cricket leather seats, a 12-inch touchscreen system, and advanced safety features. Its power, style, and modern features create an engaging driving experience.

Ultimately, while the GWM P-series offers affordability and technology, its driving experience and build quality must match the luxurious and well-rounded Volkswagen Amarok PanAmericana to keep up in this vast segment dominated by other rivals: the Hilux, Ranger, Isuzu D-Max and Nissan Navara.

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