WUN­DERKIND

THE AMAROK’S EIGHT-SPEED BREAKS ALL THE RULES, BUT IT’S BRIL­LIANTLY CLEVER AND CA­PA­BLE. AND IN CORE SPEC, IT’S DIRT-CHEAP.

4 x 4 Australia - - Driven -

JUST in case you weren’t aware, the Amarok comes with two dif­fer­ent gear­boxes mated to their own 4x4 sys­tem. The six-speed man­ual comes with con­ven­tional dual-range, part-time 4x4. On pa­per this tra­di­tional 4x4 sys­tem looks like the pick, given the au­to­matic doesn’t have a twospeed trans­fer case. But that’s not the case – far from it, in fact.

Im­por­tantly, the low first gear of the eight-speed auto and the torque con­verter’s high stall ra­tio help counter the lack of lowrange gear­ing. The 4x4 sys­tem mated to the auto trans­mis­sion also has the ben­e­fit of a self-pro­por­tion­ing and self-lock­ing cen­tre dif­fer­en­tial, sim­i­lar to what you’ll find in a Land Rover Dis­cov­ery or Range Rover, which de­liv­ers off-road ben­e­fits as well as the on-road func­tion­al­ity of full-time 4x4.

The Amarok auto’s 4x4 sys­tem is so clever you can go from cruis­ing down the free­way at any speed straight onto a steep and gnarly of­froad climb with­out touch­ing a lever or a sin­gle but­ton. And the Amarok auto will get the job done as well as, if not bet­ter than, any other ute in its class. It’s sim­ply as­ton­ish­ing.

If you do get into trou­ble the Amarok has a driver-switched rear locker to call upon and, un­like the rear locker on the Hilux and the Tri­ton, ac­ti­vat­ing the Amarok’s rear locker doesn’t can­cel the elec­tronic trac­tion con­trol, so it’s an­other win-win.

The Amarok has a small­ish 2.0-litre en­gine, but thanks to its bi-turbo ar­range­ment it still of­fers power and torque that’s com­pet­i­tive in its class. The en­gine stands out for its will­ing­ness to rev harder than those of its com­peti­tors, and it’s also strong off idle. That’s the ben­e­fit of hav­ing one smaller and one larger turbo.

By mod­ern diesel stan­dards the Amarok’s en­gine is smooth, quiet and re­fined, while the eight-speed auto is sweet in terms of shift qual­ity, shift speed and shift tim­ing. The Amarok’s chas­sis main­tains the same pol­ished per­for­mance as the en­gine and of­fers pre­cise steer­ing and sur­pris­ingly sporty hand­ing.

The Amarok has a big, spa­cious and com­fort­able cabin with sup­port­ive front seats, tilt-and-reach steer­ing wheel ad­just­ment for the driver, and the widest back seat in its class. The Core spec is ba­sic yet func­tional, but the dele­tion of the 12-volt out­let from the dash-top and an­other from the tub (both standard on other Amarok mod­els) are no­table neg­a­tives. The softer-rid­ing ‘Com­fort’ rear leaf springs (op­tional else­where on Amarok 4x4s) also aren’t avail­able on the Core.

At the time of writ­ing the au­to­matic was a ‘spe­cial’ no-cost op­tion, pro­vid­ing a sav­ing of $3000. That’s al­most too good to ig­nore.

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