What is it?
Although the Amarok was announced in 2009, it didn’t arrive in the UK until 2011, and by then it had already 'picked up' many awards (see what I did there?) including the 2010 International Pick-up of the Year.
In 2016 the Amarok received a makeover, but, instead of focussing on how it looked, VW went with how it performs, and fitted 2 versions of their 3.0ltr V6 TDI engine. Unlike other manufacturers who are downsizing their engines, Volkswagen have gone bigger, delivering better performance and load lugging ability without impacting on economy, but more on that later.
Well, with a 3.0ltr Tdi V6 that produces 221bhp and coupled to an 8-speed automatic 4MOTION gearbox, you can rightly assume that the Amarok has some potency, but what impressed me the most wasn’t its oomph, more its ahh.
Let me explain. After dropping the delivery driver off at the train station, I was straight on the motorway heading for North Wales. My plan was to drive some of my favourite Welsh roads, which included passing Ruthin along the B5105 and heading towards Cerrigydrudion so I could drive the ‘Evo Triangle’.
As I’ve mentioned, there’s absolutely no doubt that it has the get-up-and-go, but what was the chassis and suspension like? Well, there were times when I had to tap on the plastic, textured, hard wearing dashboard to remind myself that I was still driving a commercial vehicle, then, just to make doubly sure, I glanced in the rear view mirror for the tail gate.
The 8-speed automatic always finds the correct gear immediately, there’s no hunting, and even if it did struggle, there’s so much torque in the engine that it really wouldn’t matter.
When throwing an unladen pickup around corners I would usually expect some sort of bounce or skipping, but the Amarok is built better than that, in fact you’re more likely to compare its handling and ride quality to that of a premium SUV, than a pick-up. Volkswagen have put some effort into its ride and handling and they’ve succeeded, a pick-up has no right to handle this way, and to be this much fun.
One thing’s for sure, when driving the Amarok off the beaten track you don’t have to worry about ground clearance, nor approach and departure angles, it has plenty. Another thing that I didn’t have to worry about, due to its permanent 4wd system, is losing traction, it has Anti-Slip Regulation (ASR), Electronic Differential Lock (EDL) and Hill Start and Hill Decent Control.
I would love to go on about how the Amarok and I fought against the elements and treacherous terrain to get somewhere, but in truth it coped with everything I put in its way, quite boringly efficient really!
The seats are seriously comfortable and supportive, some of the best that my backside has had the privilege of sitting on. Then there’s dash layout which is easy to read and looks quite classy, with a car-like quality about it.
There are 2 notable things that griped me about the Amarok’s interior though, the first is that the one and only USB port is hidden away in the cubby hole beneath the heater controls, which is a struggle to reach. The other is that the cabin had an echo to it, which was odd, especially when you’re using handsfree.
With 6 speakers, Apple-Connect and DAB, the audio system was fantastic and produced a quality sound, again more akin to a luxury car. Though I did wonder whether that had something to do with the echoey cab! With a huge amount of glass and large door mirrors there’s excellent all-round visibility which negates the need for parking sensors, which it has anyway. The turning circle is spot on too.
So, apart from an echoey cab and the need for another, easier to access, USB port somewhere, all’s good.
Loadspace and practicality
In the rear, the load bed is one of the largest of any double-cab pick-up available in the UK, it has a volume of 2.5 square metres. The double-cab UK model has one of the widest bodies around, and these dimensions pay off with a massive 1.22 metres between the rear wheelarches, and that’s enough to take a Europallet sideways. All versions of the new Amarok will carry in excess of 1 tonne and will be able to tow a 3,000kg trailer, so customers can reclaim VAT if they’re registered.
Engines 'n' transmissions
Out with the old, in with the new, and in the Amaroks case, goodbye 2.0ltr and hello 3.0ltr V6 turbo diesel. You have 2 engine options and 1 gearbox, which is the 8-speed automatic. Both outputs offer the same 36.2 combined mpg.
201bhp - Torque = 500 @ 1,250 - 2,750rpm - 114mph - 0-60mph in 9.1 seconds & C02 = 203 g/km
221bhp - Torque = 550 @ 1,400 - 2,750rpm - 119mph - 0-60mph in 8 seconds & C02 = 204 g/km
Few things surprise me these days when it comes to reviewing cars, my last revelation was experiencing how good a standard Subaru on road tyres is in mud, today though, I’m surprised at how much I’ve fallen for the Amarok. Up until I took delivery of it, my favourite Pick-up was the L200, it has a comfy interior and a fabulous on-road ride. However, the Amarok has come along and taken its crown thanks, amongst other things, to its 3ltr V6 engine.
As I've mentioned, the Amarok drives and handles more like a sporty SUV than a pick-up, not only is well put together, but the whole vehicle feels more upmarket than its competitors, but at shade under £40,000 (£39,381 incl VAT) for this Aventura edition, you are paying for it.
Overall I didn’t think I could have this much fun in a pick-up without the need for a mattress in the back, and if you think that the pick-up market is still dominated by Japanese trucks think again, because Volkswagen has just achieved something very special.