From £32,5038
The Volkswagen Amarok gets a mild facelift and a brand new diesel engine, giving it a fresh impetus among peers

Our Verdict

Volkswagen Amarok

Can this double cab pick-up compete with established competitors in its class?

2 December 2016

What is it?

It has been a busy 18 months for the commercial arm of Volkswagen, with its Caddy and Transporter both getting a mid-life refresh and a new Crafter due next year. The fourth vehicle to get a light going over is its Amarok pick-up.

The Volkswagen Amarok has been on our roads since 2011, having originally been designed for the South American market and built in Argentina. However, the German manufacturer saw some mileage in having a pick-up in its European line-up and duly brought it over. Since then, 14,800 Amaroks have been sold in the UK, with Volkswagen hoping this facelifted model will bolster its position in a congested segment.

Not only does the latest Amarok have to keep at bay the new and improved Nissan Navara, Ford Ranger and Toyota Hilux, but also newer rivals – including the Fiat Fullback and the forthcoming Mercedes-Benz X-Class.

The new Amarok looks largely the same as the original, with its underpinnings remaining unaltered. Exterior changes have been limited to a redesigned front bumper, front grille and alloy wheels, while inside there is a new dashboard and an improved infotainment system complete with Bluetooth and DAB radio as standard.

The highlight, however, is the new 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine, which replaces the outgoing 2.0-litre oil-burner. Two outputs are currently available at launch – 201bhp and 220bhp, both driven through an eight-speed automatic gearbox – while a 160bhp version will join the range in 2017, as will a six-speed manual for the lower-powered models.

Despite the larger capacity, there is no penalty to pay on the fuel economy and CO2 fronts, as Volkswagen has gone to great lengths to ensure it matches the outgoing 2.0-litre unit’s output.

As for trims, they remain very much the same, with three core levels – Startline, Trendline and Highline - while various special-edition models will be released throughout its lifecycle. Here we are testing the limited-edition Aventura Amarok with the most powerful diesel engine.

What's it like?

VW's 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine is a peach and makes those memories of a clattery diesel dominating the cabin a thing of the past. Don’t be mistaken into thinking it is as refined as it would be in a passenger car, as a distinctive undertone is always audible but never onerous.

As for its performance, its low-down grunt and peak power make this one swift pick-up, with the muscular V6 delivering its power in a linear, smooth fashion. An overboost function allows a further 19bhp to be made available, making swift manoeuvres such as overtaking effortless.

The eight-speed automatic does a good job of flicking between ratios in order to keep engine noise to a minimum, while remaining responsive when you dab the throttle. It's not perfect, jerking through the first couple of ratios on large throttle openings from a standstill, but ultimately it does get the best out of this V6.

The steering is light and direct, which makes negotiating tight corners and streets simple enough, while mild bodyroll is kept well in check. The ride is reasonably good considering the rear is mounted on leaf springs, but not comparable to the multi-link suspension used on the Navara NP300.

Over uneven asphalt, unladen, the Amarok's rear axle struggles to settle, but never to the extent that it becomes alarming. Viewed next to its rivals, it does well to soak up most of the smaller ruts that plague UK roads, but larger potholes can cause sudden, sharp vibrations to shudder through the cabin.

As for its workhorse capability, the Amarok is still able to fit a Euro pallet between its rear wheel arches and carry a payload of up to 1114kg, which is similar to the Hilux but more than the Navara. That said, it lags behind the Ranger's mammoth 1240kg carrying ability. The VW's braked towing weight comes in at 3100kg, which, although substantial, leaves it behind the 3200kg of the Hilux and the 3500kg of the Navara, Isuzu D-Max and Ranger.

The interior will certainly be familiar to anyone having driven a Mk7 Golf. That means it's very well built and logically laid out but short on design flair.

There is plenty of space up front, but the rear is a different matter. There is a shortage of leg and shoulder room for three adults to sit abreast, although head room is far more generous. The middle rear seat is compromised by the addition of cupholders bolted to the floor, limiting leg room. It is less spacious compared to space afforded to rear occupants in the Ranger and the Navara.

Should I buy one?

If you are in the market for a pick-up that is as comfortable with manual labour as it is being a family car, then you are relatively spoilt for choice with the Nissan Navara NP300 Tekna, Ford Ranger Wildtrak and Toyota Hilux Invincible all coming with plenty of luxuries.

For our money the Amarok is the one to go for, partly for the car-like interior, but mainly because this new 3.0-litre V6 is such a charming engine, with its muscular yet quiet nature making it a very different proposition from downsized rivals in the pick-up market. 

Yes, it has its flaws - its ride isn't quite as resolved as the Navara’s and it isn't able to tow quite as much as the Ranger, Hilux or Isuzu D-Max. Its combination of good on-road manners and stout workhorse capability, though, can't be ignored by those looking to work hard and play harder.

Volkswagen Amarok 3.0-litre V6 224PS Aventura

Location Oxfordshire; On sale Now; Price £39,381; Engine V6, 2970cc, diesel; Power 220bhp at 3000-4500rpm; Torque 405lb ft at 1400-2700; Gearbox 8-spd automatic; Kerb weight 3290kg; Top speed 119mph; 0-62mph 8.0sec; Fuel economy 36.2mpg (combined); CO2 204g/km; Rivals Nissan Navara NP300, Ford Ranger, Toyota Hilux

Join the debate

Comments
11

2 December 2016
Never mind the facelift. It's a Volkswagen. It's not like anyone will be able to tell it from the old model. Currently I'm driving this for work in 2L DSG guise and as usual I don't understand why the auto journalists rave about Volkswagens. While it is doing the job it's awfully austere interior and bland looks hardly do it any favour. Add the widely reported concerns over Volkswagen reliability and it's hardly a 4 star car outside warranty. The 3L engine is welcome though as the 2L struggles when pushed. Hope they have better tuned the rather jerky box too.

2 December 2016
£40K for a pickup? No wonder they can't shift more than 3,000 a year.

2 December 2016
Yep £40k seems a lot and people criticise Land Rover for moving upmarket

2 December 2016
I drive an Amarok Canyon, and the auto box is so dim-witted when pulling away from a brief standstill, it is borderline dangerous. Roundabouts, for example, where you coast to a stop, completely flummox the car as it holds maybe third gear - then when you press the throttle, even in "Sport" mode, it take a good second to decide to change down, then a further second to actually change down, and then start moving.

As trucks go, its pretty nice, but without the obvious advantage afforded by the company car tax rate, I certainly wouldn't bother with it. 40k is a lot for what it is, and I certainly wouldn't spend my own cash on it. Fully loaded Focus RS and some change, anyone?

2 December 2016
say no more ! no more to say !

2 December 2016
While not as big of a market as the full-sized pickups the smaller trucks are starting to become popular again with the Chevy Colorado soon to be joined by the Ford Ranger and, if Fiat has one, perhaps a reborn Dodge Dakota. Put in a GTI and offer a V6 both suitably tuned to haul loads and you should do well.

2 December 2016
In a world where everyone is downsizing VW have junked a 4 cylinder TDIand replaced it with a V6 TDI, even though they have a 4 cylinder TDI that makes MORE power and torque than the V6, totally bizarre. Even worse, its got cart springs !! Who in their right mind is gonna shell out 40 grand on a car with rear suspension from the 17th century ?? !!

3 December 2016
Another free, biased advert for VW.
Why no mention of the fact that the VW is 25% dearer than its rivals. Why are important matters, such as suspension and ride quality brushed aside as mere minor foibles when more
negative article space in reviews of other manufacturers and models, (usually Italian), is used to complain about the size of cup holders or the lack of intuition of info-entertainment systems etc etc etc?

I recently hired a SEAT (VW), Alhambra. Its engine boomed and moaned at 70-80mph and the much-vaunted interior finish was flimsy, especially the storage lids. If these matters had been on an Alfa or Fiat, the review would have been abysmal.

Petersaint

2 December 2016
With the UK's love of everything Volkswagen, I'm surprised that I don't see more Anorak's on the road. But then, with its nondescript looks, maybe they're there, I just don't notice them.

3 December 2016
up to I saw the paycheck which had said $8845 , I have faith that my friends brother woz like actualy erning money part-time on their apple labtop. . there aunt had bean doing this 4 only 7 months and resently took care of the morgage on there mini mansion and bought themselves a Lancia . view it now....

========www.centerpay70.com

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