What is it?
This Volkswagen Amarok is now the most powerful series-production pick-up truck available in the UK.
With 255bhp, its 3.0-litre V6 diesel just edges out its nearest competitor, the forthcoming, similarly V6-engined 253bhp Mercedes-Benz X-Class, and there’s an overboost function that adds an additional 13bhp for as much as 20 seconds. Permanent all-wheel drive is standard, along with an eight-speed automatic transmission.
The final-phase pre-production vehicle we drove in Oman was in Aventura trim, which is a special edition launch model closely based on the otherwise top-ranking Highline.
What's it like?
In addition to Highline specification, Aventura adds swathes of black in the interior, including the headlining, and nappa leather seats. On the outside are 20in wheels and the choice of a new limited-edition colour – metallic Peacock Green.
Our test car had an air intake snorkel to stop the engine suffocating on the dust from the unsealed roads and dirt tracks of Oman (rather than to improve the 500mm wading depth) and the sucking and whooshing of the pipe was accompanied by a pleasant engine roar.
Under heavy acceleration, the engine noise seeps into the cabin, but as you ease off, it settles to a genteel thrum. It’s refined and smooth; every inch an SUV impersonator. The abundance of torque and the quick-responding transmission mean that making effortless progress is always possible despite the gearbox’s tendency to race through the ratios.
Handling, meanwhile, is sharp, with weightier steering than is usually found in VW commercial vehicles, but the steering rack is quite slow, so you have to work hard on twistier roads. Uprated rear suspension also improves roadholding. This is about as cultured as a leaf-sprung rear axle can be. Off-road or on a gravel track, the Amarok is supple and capable.