First Drive: Volkswagen Amarok
SECTOR Pick-up POWER 163/224hp LOAD AREA 2.52m2 CO2 199g/km
Having turned the pick-up market upside down by offering the original Amarok pick-up with a range of 2.0-litre engines, when all major competitors had 2.5 and 3.0-litre motors, Volkswagen is going against the norm again and upsizing for the updated truck. While Nissan has downsized to 2.3-litre engines and Mitsubishi’s L200 is now powered by 2.4-litre motors, VW is to offer Amarok with a range of three V6 3.0-litre power plants.
To be offered with 163hp and 204hp versions later in 2017, VW will launch in the UK with the range-topping 224hp engine only. While the 163hp will come with a manual gearbox and customers can choose between manual and automatic transmissions in the 204hp Amarok, the 244hp engine will be paired with the excellent eight-speed automatic transmission as standard. Despite the power and capacity, VW claims up to 37.2mpg for the 224hp engine, with CO2 emissions of just 199g/km.
That 224hp is backed up by a massive 550Nm of torque, which provides remarkably smooth and rapid acceleration. Amarok will also be able to pull up to 3.5 tonne trailers, while the truck’s payload will sit just over 1-tonne to allow customers to reclaim VAT if registered.
As with other VW commercials, the updated model gets a sharper front bumper and radiator grille with horizontal angles and folds in the bodywork. This angular look is echoed in the revised cab interior, where there is a new dash with updated infotainment, that now includes the option of CarNet and App Connect systems.
Bluetooth is now standard on all trucks, along with VW’s Automatic Post-Collision Braking System. Indeed electronic driver aids make it easy to control Amarok both on and off the road, where an optional mechanical rear differential lock helps to deliver impressive traction.
It is on the road however where Amarok is at its most impressive, with that smooth V6 engine delivering any-speed acceleration and relaxed cruising. The automatic transmission comes with small paddles behind the steering wheel spokes, but there is little need to use them in normal driving as the box smoothly passes up and down the gears.
All of that power is easily held in check too, with Amarok boasting 17-inch front disc brakes and 16-inch discs at the rear. The big truck also boasts supple suspension that manages to contain the forces at work beneath the bodywork well.
Volkswagen sold 3,908 Amarok pick-ups in the UK in 2015, a gain of 25% over the year before. The majority of those trucks were driven by the most powerful 180hp engine, in higher trim levels. Though this new model will continue to be offered in Startline, Trendline and Highline specifications, which have yet to be set for the UK market, expect the higher trim levels to dominate sales again, with special editions proving equally popular.
Full specifications and prices will be available closer to the new Amarok’s on-sale date in September, with the majority of UK-bound trucks being assembled at the firm’s Hanover plant in Germany.
What we think:
Though perhaps moving even further from its commercial vehicle roots, VW’s Amarok retains the carrying capacity and towing ability to appeal to premium pick-up buyers.