Muscat, Oman - Power wars in the automotive area are usually fought between Ferrari, Porsche, Lamborghini and McLaren. It's also usually Audi, BMW and Mercedes who enter the battle royale for kilowatt supremacy.
But there's another tussle brewing and the protagonists aren't who you think. Volkswagen has just released a 190kW (up from 165kW) version of its Amarok V6 turbodiesel engine. 190kW did you say? Hmmm well that's the same as the new Mercedes-Benz X-Class V6...
But the Amarok has more torque at 580Nm, 30 more than the Merc's 550Nm.
So how does the Volkswagen's new V6 perform? We travelled to Oman, on the Arabian coast, to sample the new model in various terrain.
The Amarok feels more car-like than any other bakkie I've driven. The steering wheel is the same one used in a Golf, it uses an 8-speed automatic torque converter transmission. It's really a pleasant place to be. What wasn't pleasant was the 40-degree temperature we experienced in Muscat, thankfully the two-zone climate control is PROPER.
Gallery: 2018 Volkswagen Amarok Tour
Back to the driving. We traversed smooth highways with random shades of 'rubble or sand' blown from the desert or rocky surrounds.
From hazy capital Muscat, we snaked, mostly inland with fleeting sights of the blue water of the Arabian Sea. The destination would be the Al-Hajar mountains and night of camping 1700m above sea level.
The Amarok's light steering makes tackling the steep (and rocky) mountain pass easier, and I'm impressed by how 5.2m long bakkie handled the tricky pass. There's so much torque from the V6 that third gear was sufficient, it's really an engine that shouldn't be scoffed at.
A brief stop at one of the deepest caves in the world, check out a video here, and we begin the final stretch to the night's accommodation.
The load bay swallows a bunch of camping equipment that we use overnight on the Hadjar mountains. We were blessed to see a fantastic lightening 'show'.
According to our guide, Omanis have a liberal relationship with speeding on highways. Therefore, every two kilometres there are speed monitoring cameras.
The final day saw the convoy traversing Oman's famous desert, with temperatures reached sweltering 40 degrees, but that trusty climate control soldiered on.
The cabin, while utilitarian in some aspects (big volume knob) is supremely comfortable, bizarrely our cars were fitted with a 'winter pack', which included heated seats.
Sand, sand and sand dunes, that's what faced us on the third day of this epic trip. We left our desert camp at 8:00am sharp (my brow was already perspiring).
The tall sand dunes that laid ahead were no match for all the torque from the V6, with the traction control off we just powered up the double-storey dune.
The three day trip gave us a chance to drive the Amarok on tar, gravel, rocks and sand. And it didn't miss a beat. Everything we could throw at it, the Amarok powered through, what a tour, what a country.
*The 190kW Amarok will only be available in South Africa in 2019