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Volkswagen Amarok Road Test

Review by Tristan Tancredi - 27 March 2013

Serving labourers since 2009, the Amarok is a still a baby on the "pick-up truck" scene. Available in both dual and single cabs, we will today focus solely on the dual-cab variants. In particular the Amarok Highline.

Despite being a typical workman's vehicle, one would suggest that dual cab utes (like the Amarok) are becoming more of an everyday vehicle for families rather than soley a work ute.

Balanced on-road suspension combined with an 8 speed automatic transmission results in a refined driving experience similar to that of a family SUV (albeit one slightly higher off the ground). There's a reason why this car won the 4X4 Ute of the Year award.

Let's take a closer look at the Volkswagen Amarok.

 

  • Make: VW
  • Model: Amarok Highline
  • Price: $53,990*
  • Transmission: 8 Speed Automatic ZF
  • Engine: 2.0 Litre 4 Cylinder DOHC 16 Valve Bi-Turbo Diesel
  •  Max Power: 132kW @ 4000rpm
  • Max Torque: 420Nm @ 1750rpm
  • Fuel consumption: 8.3L* / 10.3L* per 100kms
  • CO2 Emissions: N/A
  • Safety: 5 Star ANCAP
  • Car Supplier: VW Australia

 

QUICK LINKS
Drive Engine Exterior Interior Safety

 

Drive: 4.5/5

A dual-cab that drives like a passenger sedan? Yes please!

The Amarok Highline is available in both 6 Speed manual and 8 Speed Automatic. The introduction of an 8-speed Automatic transmission is a god-send for the Amarok and one of the main contributing factors as to why this dual cab utility drives like a passenger sedan.

Well timed gear ratios, smooth transitions and plenty of power all combine to provide a surprising, yet enjoyable, driving experience. The heavy vehicle feels bubbly and energetic and rarely falters with increased throttle.

Whether it be lumbering up-hill with a loaded tray or coasting down the Great Ocean Road with a tied-down esky, the Amarok is a fine car for an assortment of jobs.

The 8-Speed ZF transmission, despite being a head above the rest, does come at a cost. Around $3,000 extra. So, you are paying for quality, but it is worth it.

4Motion All wheel drive delivers a smooth even on-road feel. Sure, it may not be the most practical vehicle for inner city driving, but it handles itself extremely well across all terrains and all driving environments. And to state the obvious, inner-city parking and u-turns are a tad trickier than usual thanks to a large turning circle.

 

Engine: 4/5

A 2.0 Litre 4 Cylinder DOHC 16 Valve Bi-Turbo Diesel engine is VW's best choice for the Amarok Dual Cab model range.

The 2.0 litre diesel engine feels right at home in the hood of the Amarok. Sufficient power (132kW @ 4000rpm) and decent torque figures (420Nm @ 1750rpm) translate to a very capable work truck. The impressive torque figures provide a very responsive take-off and highly capable lugging capacities.

There is a notable dieselly engine noise that transcends through to the cabin especially when working the throttle. However the smoothness and range of the 8-speed auto limits the extent of noise and makes for an overall pleasant and refined cabin experience.

VW have recorded fuel usage to sit at 8.3L per 100kms. Our week with the Amarok produced a similar number.

Exterior: 4/5

The most important part of a work ute is its tray. The Amarok Highline comes with a tray 2.52 m2 that can carry a payload of 1.2 tonnes. Did we mention it has a 3 tonne towing capacity? No, well now we did.

The Amarok Trendline, Highline and Ultimate all measure in at 5254mm long, 1944mm wide and 1834mm high. Notable exterior features include; Chrome headlights & rear bumper, modern style lines, engine and transmission protection, front fog lights, stainless steel sports bar and side steps and a demanding front grille.

A ground clearance of 203mm allows for the Amarok to successfully cover off-road terrain whilst towing heavy equipment.

Safety: 5/5

The All-new Amarok was awarded a 5-star ANCAP safety rating.

The Amarok is fitted with a heap of safety features including; Airbag for driver and front seat passenger, Front side head/thorax airbag, Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) with Brake Assist, Hill Assist and Off-road ABS/ASR and EDL.

As mentioned previously Parking sensors operate, however the lack of a reversing camera is disappointing.

Interior: 3.5/5

After making the big step (literally) and planting your backside into the comfortable front seats one thing becomes apparant: There is no display screen with Sat-Nav or Reversing camera. For a $50,000+ car, I'd expect better.

For starters, the views out back aren't crash hot. No matter how many head checks or glances at the mirror you take, there are always black spots. Now I'm used to driving larger vehicles without modern technology, so I managed to avoid any dings. However for a vehicle in this price range, added extras like a reversing camera should be standard. Reversing sensors are present and do an admirable job.

Secondly, the lack of satellite navigation is understandable for a base model vehicle, not for a mid to high class vehicle like the Amarok. Nontheless, the interior of the Amarok is clean (some would say plain), modern and very spacious. 5 passengers will easily fit inside the dual cab in the comfort of black cloth trim seating (Leather trim is optional).

A 6-CD stacker, AUX input and bluetooth connectivity all work well and are easily set up.

Overall: 4/5

The self-proclaimed "Thinking Mans Ute" is a viable option, not only as a work ute, but as a family car. The ground breaking 8-speed automatic transmission allows the barrier between work car and family car to be broken. It provides a smooth, quiet, refined driving experience.

Comfortable inside and practical outside, it's no surprise that the Amarok is surging up the 4X4 sales charts. In the VW bubble alone, it's making quite a move.

Despite having one of the tackiest marketing slogans I can think of, "I think therefore I Amarok" (Still makes me chuckle), the Amarok is far from tacky. It is a solid, reliable work utility / family vehicle. If you're in the market for one, check the Amarok out today.

* Prices are manufacturer list prices only, for the drive away price please contact your local authorised VW dealer.

 

Pros: Cons:
  • 8 Speed ZF Transmission
  • Smooth Handling
  • No Reversing Camera
  • No Sat-Nav

 

Comments on the review? The Car? Your Car? Email us.

 
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