This four-door, double cab, pick-up has all the mod cons needed for everyday motoring, but loves to showcase its off-road and working capabilities too. It’s great for towing, carrying massive loads and features all the techno treats required these days.
The goodUnbelievable off-road ability
The badPrices are creeping up
VW Amarok (2019) – First Drive
The pick-up arena is becoming a fiercely competitive sector with classy vehicles from the likes of Toyota, Nissan, Mitsubishi and even Mercedes-Benz wrangling for attention. And now the latest VW Amarok has really upped its game thanks to a significant power hike.
The double-cab Amarok is available in three generously-equipped trim levels called Trendline, Highline and Aventura, all of which are powered by an efficient 3.0-litre V6 TDI diesel engine. This powertrain has three outputs – 163PS, 204PS and 258PS – that latter figure has just been increased from 224PS.
We tested the mid-range Highline Amarok powered by the latest V6 258PS diesel engine mated to a slick eight-speed automatic gearbox and it was up to any challenge thrown in its path both on and off road.
Boasting VW’s outstanding 4MOTION four-wheel drive system, along with superb towing and load-carrying abilities, the Amarok is a striking four-door pick-up that’s packed with technology but it’s not afraid to graft for a living when necessary.
It features a muscular, rugged, design with bi-xenon headlights and LED daytime running lights, darkened rear light clusters, privacy glass and huge 19-inch wheels. It’s fair to say the Amarok is a go-anywhere vehicle that has real road presence. But it has a softer side too with plenty of creature comforts, such as heated Vienna leather seats, full smartphone connectivity via Mirror Link, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a six-speaker audio set-up, a navigation system and lots more besides.
The interior has been designed with durability in mind with lots of hard plastic surfaces that would easily wipe clean making the Amarok a very practical option. There is plenty of room for five adults to travel in comfort and despite its larger-than-life dimensions, it can sprint to 62mph from a standing start in a very rapid 7.4 seconds, topping out at 127mph. According to official figures, the Amarok can deliver combined fuel economy of 33.6mpg with carbon emissions of 220g/km.
There is enough manual seat and steering wheel adjustment to quickly get comfy and the driver is treated to excellent all-round visibility thanks to the elevated seating position. That said; the front and rear parking sensors, along with the rear-view camera, are still very much appreciated when manoeuvring into tight spaces.
Out on the open road, the Amarok is composed and fairly refined. In fact, it’s easy to forget you are behind the wheel of a pick-up at times. You do have to give bends a certain degree of respect to avoid any body sway, but generally the road-holding is confident and assured. I should mention that our test vehicle was carrying a pallet of sand that weighed 550kg and that would be beneficial to the car’s ride and handling. But one thing is clear – that power hike is very evident. There is a constant stream of power on tap at all times and short bursts of acceleration for overtaking are easily accomplished.
With farmers, builders and tradesmen accounting for much of the pick-up market, the vehicle needs to tick all the right boxes when it comes to practicality and the Amarok does just that. After proving its metal on-road we took to a boggy and slippery off-road course in torrential rain. Once again, the Amarok impressed as it clambered up hill climbs with muddy ruts trying to drag it off course, it scrambled over rocks and the hill descent system worked effortlessly lowering the vehicle down steep gradients.
With a full load on board, the Amarok can scale slopes of 45 degrees; it has slope clearance angles of 29 degrees (front) and 24 degrees (rear); has a ground clearance up to an angle of 23 degrees and a wading depth of half a metre. It can also tow a trailer weighing up to 3.1-tonnes and the cargo bed can carry a Euro-sized pallet up to 1.1 tonnes in weight.
But there is a downside to the pick-up industry and that’s the price. The Amarok line-up ranges from £25,800 for the entry-level Trendline model with the lower-powered engine up to a staggering £39,970 for the range-topping Aventura – and these prices are exclusive of VAT. Our model cost £35,765 (exc. VAT), but with a number of optional extras such as a lights and vision pack, a Discover Media navigation pack that allows you to communicate with back seat passengers via the speakers, a centre high-mounted LED brake light and a tow bar, the cost rose to £46,199 which is VAT inclusive.
On the safety front, the Amarok was tested for its Euro NCAP rating back in 2010 and achieved four stars. Features include off-road ABS with hill-hold assist, hill descent assist, electronic stability programme, electronic trailer stabilisation, load safety, numerous airbags and VW’s award-winning automatic post-collision braking system which can reduce the chance of a secondary accident in the event of a collision.
All in all, the latest, more powerful Amarok is a worthy and very valid contender for sales in the pick-up market and would be the perfect choice for anyone looking for a true workhorse of a vehicle. It would also appeal to anyone looking to escape the overwhelming mass of SUVs on offer these days.
Amarok Trendline 2.0 BiTDI 163PS 4MOTION
It has to be said that as technology becomes more advanced we are getting ever closer to a vehicle that can drive itself and Volkswagen’s Amarok has just taken a mighty leap in that direction.
For this four-door, five-seat pick-up has all the mod cons we expect in a family saloon these days, but has off-road capabilities which, at times, beggars belief.
From the outside, the Amarok looks every bit the workhorse with chunky wheels, a black rear bumper with integrated step, privacy glass, body-coloured door mirrors and a class-leading load capacity accessible via the very sturdy and somewhat heavy tailgate.
The interior is extremely spacious and can easily accommodate five adults with ample leg, head and elbow room.
And creature comforts are relatively plentiful for this type of vehicle too and include two-zone air con, cruise control, a trip computer with multi-function display, electric windows, a great audio system with six speakers and lots more.
But, in all honesty, the Amarok is all about performance and working capabilities. It boasts class-leading environmental and efficiency credentials – 35.8mpg combined, along with a best-in-class load capacity – these are qualities that will appeal to any wise-headed business person.
On normal roads, it handled very well and was deceptively nimble at times considering its size. Acceleration through the 6-speed manual transmission was effortless and the 2.0-litre diesel-powered engine provided ample power.
Although, cabin noise is not the quietest, it compares quite favourably with many other working models.
Comfort levels are exceptionally good and the seats are very supportive even on very uneven surfaces.
Then, on to the Amarok’s off-roading prowess – and boy, its performance left many hard-nosed off-roading experts gazing in utter disbelief.
For this is where the vehicle really comes into its own and the technology literally takes over.
Balanced precariously at the top of a very steep incline, I was able to put the vehicle in neutral gear, take my feet off any of the pedals and let the Amarok do the rest.
In all honesty, my only real participation around an off-road circuit was to steer the vehicle in the right direction, and just occasionally change gear.
And that’s because everything else is done automatically – the vehicle’s electronic stabilisation programme senses any time the vehicle may be subject to under-steer, over-steer or start to slide and, in turn, reacts within fractions of a second by applying the brakes to one, two, three or all four wheels and adjusting the engine’s power. There is also the anti-lock braking system with its unique off-road performance, hill-hold and loads more.
But to sum up, you can be rolling along and, at times, have two wheels off the ground and still the Amarok has total control… even if you don’t.
Now those are some credentials and when you take into account the fact that the Amarok starts from just £23.7k this vehicle is bound to pick-up quite a following.