From £32,5038
Limited-edition Canyon version of Volkswagen's Amarok pick-up looks brutish, but remains a practical and well-equipped choice

What is it?

An upgraded, meatier and meaner-looking version of Volkswagen's Volkswagen Amarok pick-up truck. Traditionally, the Amarok has been a product we've liked, faring well against competition like the Ford Ranger, Nissan Navara, Toyota Hilux and Mitsubishi L200.

The Canyon special edition is limited to a run of just 350 vehicles in the UK, so it'll be a rare sight. Those who do opt for it will get extras including a six-inch touchscreen infotainment system with satellite navigation, special 19-inch alloy wheels, heated leather seats, front and rear parking sensors and unique styling bars. Altogether, says VW, the package is worth over £8,500.

Those extras go some way – but not all – towards explaining this VW's relatively high price tag. It costs a substantial £37,841, including VAT, if you opt for the eight-speed automatic transmission. There's also a six-speed manual available, which costs from £34,788.

Our test car came with a 2.0-litre BiTDI engine, which puts out 178bhp at 4000rpm and 310lb ft at 1750rpm.

What's it like?

Pleasingly this doesn't feel like a commercial vehicle to drive, and even about town it's no more unwieldy than any other large car – like the Range Rover for example.

Admittedly there's little feedback through the steering, and there's more road, wind and engine noise than you might find in a typical SUV, but nevertheless the Amarok is a perfectly civil machine.

Likewise, the fact that the 2.0-litre diesel peaks at 4000rpm is negated by its substantial torque output, which is accessible even at lower engine speeds. Making progress is never an issue as a result, partly thanks to the swift-shifting eight-speed transmission.

There's some typical big-car body roll through the corners, and the ride could be classed as being firm, but overall the Volkswagen Amarok feels accommodating, powerful and even relatively fun to drive. It would be useful to have paddle shifts fitted though, allowing for quicker manual selection of gears when off-roading or towing.

Inside and the Canyon extras, including heated leather front seats, leather upholstery and sporty contrasting stitching, go some way to making the Amarok feel like a premium product.

There are still some decidedly rough edges - the plastic around the centre console and on top of the dashboard is hard and looks cheap, for example - but it's still comfortable.

Other luxuries, like VW's central infotainment system, work well, although some of the climate control buttons are too small to operate on rougher terrain and on the move. This fault would be further exacerbated if you were wearing gloves.

There's plenty of space, even for passengers in the rear. The Amarok's load bay is massive too, and able to accommodate payloads of up to 1100kg.

The Canyon's large body-coloured roof light bar – a £1134 extra – is capable of illuminating a huge area in the dark, but it's best saved for when there's no other traffic around. It also lends the Canyon an extra degree of visual appeal.

Should I buy one?

If you need space, off-road and load-lugging capability, but also want something that's comfortable and easy to drive, then the Volkswagen Amarok is a fine choice.

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Realistically the Amarok Canyon is likely to be more of a premium experience than most customers will be looking for, however. Leather interiors are all well and good, but wipe-clean surfaces, durability and easy-to-use controls are more pressing priorities for many buyers in this class.

It must also be said that, at £37,841, the Amarok is an expensive option. Top-spec versions of the Mitsubishi L200 clock in at £35,109 in 2.5-litre D-ID Walkinshaw Double Cab Automatic guise, while the 3.0-litre V6 dCi Outlaw V6 Double Cab Nissan Navara costs £37,095.

Ford's Ford Ranger costs the least, at £31,645 for the 3.2-litre TDCi Wildtrak Automatic model. 

Excluding VAT, as you would if buying the Amarok Canyon as a business-use vehicle, the VW's price drops to a more palatable £30,720 – although it still remains more costly than its rivals.

For some, however, the premium will be easily justified by the Canyon's striking looks and wide range of talents.

Volkswagen Amarok Canyon 2.0 BiTDI 4Motion

Price £37,841 0-62mph 11.3sec Top speed 108mph Economy 34.4mpg CO2 215g/km Kerb weight 2070kg Engine 1968cc, twin-turbocharged, diesel Power 178bhp at 4000rpm Torque 310lb ft at 1750rpm Gearbox 8-spd auto

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catnip 29 July 2014

I guess it depends on where

I guess it depends on where you live, but, even though every review I read puts it ahead of the competition, I see very few of these Anoraks around.
Flatus senex 29 July 2014

An abomination to look at - just like its competitors

Hope the fashion for this sort of thing dies away. If it doesn't, just buy the cheapest available, which rather eliminates this one.
Nobby Hightinkle 2 August 2014

Buy the cheapest

Great Wall Steed @ £13998. Leather, air, blue tooth, alloys, 6 year/125k warranty...
Nobby Hightinkle 2 August 2014

Buy the cheapest

Great Wall Steed @ £13998. Leather, air, blue tooth, alloys, 6 year/125k warranty...
liquidgold 28 July 2014

Bulls eye for target market

Yes it's 32k, ex VAT, but in this spec it is of course aimed at company car drivers. It costs me about £60 a month in tax, and it's a perfectly pleasant drive. I have just swapped a Ranger Wildtrak for a Canyon, and it is well worth the price premium. I use it for towing and tooling around to the tip etc, and it's spot on. I understand why it's not everyone's cup of tea, but with only 350 coming to the UK, it can afford to appeal only to a very small niche. Job done.