Review: Volkswagen Amarok

Review: Volkswagen Amarok
Review: Volkswagen Amarok

Great engine and interior come at a price

Unlike some of its rivals revealed over the last 12 months, the Amarok isn’t all new but there have been a few areas to receive significant changes.

From the outside the grille and front bumper have been updated and there are new wheels.

Volkswagen Amarok Aventura

Price: £39,381
Engine: 3.0-litre, V6, diesel
Power: 221bhp
Torque: 406lb/ft
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic driving all four wheels
0-62mph: 8 seconds
Top speed: 119mph
Fuel economy: 36.2mpg
CO2 emissions: 204g/km

The interior, however, has had a far more serious upgrade. While most of the plastics wouldn’t cut the mustard in any of VW’s cars they’re on a par with some rivals and better than others. More significantly, though is that the dash panel is all new and incorporates some of the key elements from VW’s passenger car offering in a clear, logical layout.

The air conditioning controls and media touchscreen system are lifted from the road car division. Lower spec models get basic heating and a five-inch mono screen housing the USB and Bluetooth-equipped stereo. Higher grades get automatic air con and a six-inch full colour system with sat nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Whichever system you get it will be far superior to those in the Amarok’s Japanese rivals.

Our Aventura test car was generously equipped, with 19-inch alloys, leather seats, reversing camera and cruise control in addition to the top-end media setup. Rivals, however, offer the same level of kit for a lot less than its near-£40,000 price tag.

Being a practical work vehicle there are plenty of storage spaces around the cab and up to four 12V power sockets plus USB and aux-in points. Rear-seat space is on the tight side but those up front enjoy plenty of room, the most comfortable seats in the class and, in high-spec trims, hard-wearing leather upholstery.

Beside the interior, the other fully-refreshed area is the engine bay, with the previous 2.0-litre diesel replaced by a 3.0-litre V6 promising up to 36.5mpg.

The Audi-sourced engine is smoother and quieter than the four-cylinder units in rivals and the eight-speed automatic works its way through the ratios cleanly and quickly.

The engine can be had in three tunes – 160bhp, 201bhp and 221bhp. Our test car had the top output, placing it above most competitors. In an unladen truck that feels surprisingly sprightly and should be more than sufficient for most users.

Along with a smooth drivetrain, the Amarok is head of its class in terms of noise control, with car-like sound insulation.

The ride can’t quite match up to these heady heights but it’s not far off. It still has the familiar lumpy feel of most pick-ups but it’s not as harsh over rough surfaces. The Nissan Navara is probably still smoother, however.

New for this model is speed-sensitive steering. At low speeds it’s super-light, making manoeuvring easy but it fails to weight up sufficiently at higher speeds. This leads to a slightly disconcerting lack of feeling of weight in such a big car.

The Amarok can be had in basic Startline trim aimed at business buyers but, realistically, it’s a pick-up more aimed at the lifestyle market. There’s no single cab version, the towing capacity is lower than many rivals, and even the cheapest Startline is thousands more than basic L200s and Navaras.

On the flip side, your extra outlay gets you the best overall driving experience and the nicest interior in its class. For those looking for a family vehicle rather than a building-site workhorse this could be enough to swing it in the VW’s favour.

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