VW slots V6 tur­bod­iesel grunt into the Amarok...

Volk­swa­gen’s V6 Amarok is the prover­bial iron fist wrapped in a vel­vet glove.

4 x 4 Australia - - Contents -

VOLK­SWA­GEN’S much-an­tic­i­pated 3.0-litre V6 diesel Amarok has ar­rived and with it comes a new per­for­mance bench­mark in 4x4 du­al­cab utes. Ini­tially avail­able only in Ul­ti­mate and High­line spec­i­fi­ca­tion, and only as an eight-speed au­to­matic, more V6 mod­els will ar­rive next year in­clud­ing a six-speed man­ual with du­al­range, part-time 4x4. The Ul­ti­mate asks $67,990 (plus on-road costs), $4000 more than the cur­rent 2.0litre Ul­ti­mate. The High­line, at $59,990 (plus on-road costs), is a more mod­est $3000 premium over the cur­rent High­line. For that ex­tra money you get 165kw (with 180kw avail­able on over­boost) and 550Nm in place of the 132kw and 420Nm that the cur­rent 2.0-litre four­cylin­der bi-turbo-diesel makes when mated to the au­to­matic.

POW­ER­TRAIN AND PER­FOR­MANCE

THE V6 turbo-diesel in question is a longserv­ing and well-proven (more than ten years in ser­vice) VW fam­ily de­sign that’s used in the Touareg, Porsche Cayenne and Ma­can, and Audi Q7; al­though it’s been beefed-up for the Amarok ap­pli­ca­tion.

Its 165kw is avail­able from as lit­tle as 2500rpm and ex­tends up to 4500rpm. The over­boost func­tion, which bumps max­i­mum power to 180kw to pro­vide

more urge in over­tak­ing sit­u­a­tions and the like, is ac­ti­vated on throt­tle ap­pli­ca­tions of 70 per cent or more and for pe­ri­ods up to 10 sec­onds at a time with a five-sec­ond re-cy­cle time. At the other end of the rpm range, the 550Nm is on tap from as low as 1500rpm and ex­tends to 2500rpm.

On the road the Amarok V6 is ab­so­lutely ef­fort­less at low and mid­dle revs, yet punchy when needed. It will sprint from a stand­still to 100km/h in just 7.9 sec­onds, some­thing that will leave even the best of the com­peti­tor utes in its dust. Iden­ti­cal fi­nal-drive gear­ing to the four-cylin­der mod­els, plus the low first and sec­ond gears of the eight-speed auto, helps here.

This en­gine isn’t just a pedal-to-the metal brute be­cause it also meets pas­sen­ger-car re­fine­ment stan­dards, is smooth, sounds very un-diesel-like, and has lit­tle or no tell­tale diesel rat­tle. Just what you’d ex­pect of an en­gine used in a Porsche.

The re­fine­ment of the en­gine is matched by the su­per-slick ZF au­to­matic that pro­vides a wide spread of ra­tios for ev­ery­thing from low-speed rock crawl­ing to ef­fort­less high­way cruis­ing. Despite car­ry­ing the same fi­nal-drive gear­ing as the four-cylin­der mod­els, the tall top gear still re­sults in a calm and re­laxed 1000rpm at 60km/h. With max­i­mum torque on tap at 1500rpm, this means the en­gine doesn’t even think about slip­ping out of top gear on un­du­lat­ing coun­try roads at le­gal high­way speeds, which is a nice de­par­ture from the ex­ces­sively tall gear­ing of­ten used to­day in the in­ter­ests of fuel econ­omy.

OFF-ROAD

THE V6 and eight-speed au­to­matic is mated to sin­gle-range full-time 4x4 in a sys­tem sim­i­lar to what’s cur­rently avail­able with the four-cylin­der en­gine – al­though the gear­box is a heav­ier-duty unit to cope with the ex­tra torque of the V6. The 4x4 sys­tem uses a self-lock­ing elec­tronic-clutch cen­tre diff and pro­vides a nom­i­nal 40/60 front-to-rear torque split on high-trac­tion sur­faces, but can vary the torque split as needed.

As with the four-cylin­der Amarok with the eight-speed auto, the V6 can go from high­way cruis­ing to steep off-road work with­out hav­ing to select 4WD or lowrange. There’s an ‘Off-road’ but­ton that tweaks the gear­box-shift and elec­tronic-trac­tion-con­trol pro­to­cols, as well as ac­ti­vates the hill-de­cent con­trol, but left

to its own de­vices the Amarok largely works it out it­self.

There’s also a but­ton to de­ac­ti­vate the sta­bil­ity con­trol for mud or sand, while for gnarlier tracks there’s a driver-switched rear locker – which in the case of the Amarok V6 keeps the trac­tion con­trol ac­tive on the front axle.

With the locker en­gaged the V6 will out­per­form most com­peti­tor utes in steep off-road con­di­tions, despite not hav­ing low-range gear­ing. You can put that down to the low first gear, the torque con­ver­tor’s high stall ra­tio and the ‘smart’ cen­tre diff, which can send the drive to the axle that can use it best.

Not so good is the 500mm wad­ing depth due to the en­gine draw­ing its in­take air from be­hind the grille, or the fact that re­cov­ery hooks aren’t fitted; al­though there is a screw-in re­cov­ery eye. It does have ex­cel­lent un­der­body pro­tec­tion, though.

Our test ve­hi­cle had the stan­dard sidesteps re­moved – per­haps VW thought we were go­ing to wreck them.

ON-ROAD

AS EVER, the Amarok of­fers first-class on-road ride and hand­ing thanks to a steer­ing and chas­sis bal­ance that’s a cut above the rest. Despite the fact the Amarok is one of the big­ger and heav­ier utes – up there with the Ranger and BT-50 – it feels small and nim­ble. If you want your 4x4 ute to han­dle and go like a sports car, then this is it.

PRAC­TI­CAL­I­TIES

AS stan­dard the High­line comes with 18-inch al­loy wheels while the Ul­ti­mate rides on 19s, both with HT tyres. The 19s carry iden­ti­cal-spec tyres to a Land Rover Dis­cov­ery, so they’re not en­tirely use­less off-road. How­ever, our test ve­hi­cle was fitted with fac­tory 17s with Pirelli Scor­pion 245/65R17 ATS.

The 17s can be fitted despite the V6 hav­ing big­ger front brakes than the four­cylin­der, now the big­gest front brakes in the class. Disc brakes, in­stead of drum brakes as fitted to all of the Amarok’s im­me­di­ate com­peti­tors, are used at the rear. The 16-inch wheels avail­able on four-cylin­der mod­els won’t fit over the larger front brakes, which cuts out 16-inch mud tyres and the like.

Despite the big­ger and more pow­er­ful en­gine, the tow­ing ca­pac­ity re­mains un­changed from the four-cylin­der mod­els at 3000kg; al­though the GCM has been beefed up to 6000kg to match the best-in-class such as the Ranger, BT-50 and Col­orado. With the higher GCM, the V6 can tow its max and still have a de­cent pay­load in the tray, which is not the case with the 3500kg tow-rated utes. The Amarok also has the only tub in the class able to carry a full-sized pal­let be­tween the whee­larches.

As dealer-fit op­tions VW also of­fers a fac­tory tow­bar, a hard ton­neau cover and var­i­ous other ac­ces­sories. A fac­tory

bull­bar is in the works, but won’t be avail­able un­til next year.

With no ma­jor al­ter­ations to the body and chas­sis, cur­rently avail­able af­ter­mar­ket ac­ces­sories should fit the V6 vari­ant Amarok.

CABIN AND SAFETY

WHAT hasn’t changed with the Amarok V6 is the ex­tra-spa­cious cabin, al­though there’s a new dash and the top-spec Ul­ti­mate brings new lux­ury with 14-way-ad­justable heated leather seats. The High­line gets cloth seats, but both man-made faux leather and real leather cowhide are avail­able as op­tions, as are heated front seats.

Rear-seat pas­sen­gers ben­e­fit from what is the widest cabin in the class, but the Ranger and BT-50 have more com­bined front and rear legroom – so more room in the back for knees if you’re sit­ting be­hind a tall driver or tall front pas­sen­ger. The Amarok is also unique in the class by not hav­ing any rear-seat airbags.

SUM UP

WHILE the two new V6s will sell against the ex­ist­ing four-cylin­der mod­els for the time be­ing, 2017 will see a shrink­ing of the four-cylin­der range from four to two grades – Core and Core Plus – while the sin­gle-cab 4x4 may also be phased out.

The re­duc­tion of the four-cylin­der range will make way for an ex­panded V6 range, in­clud­ing the spe­cial-edi­tion Aven­tura due mid 2017. Ex­pect the V6 to also make its way down the model grades, but in a lower state of tune from the cur­rent 165kw/550nm. No doubt these less ex­pen­sive, low-tuned V6s will be able to be tweaked to 165kw/550nm, and both en­gines will no doubt have easy tun­ing ca­pac­ity be­yond 165kw/550nm.

Not that the V6 needs any more power, as there’s plenty on tap as it is. Plus the en­gine is wrapped in a chas­sis that’s bril­liant on-road and ex­cel­lent off it. Here at 4X4 Aus­tralia we have al­ways been big fans of the four-cylin­der Amarok, and this new V6 builds on all the four­cylin­der’s strengths with a whole new world of per­for­mance that puts it in a class of its own.

We have al­ways been big fans of the Amarok... the V6 builds on the strengths with a new world of per­for­mance

Dual-cab bat­tle heats up as VW at­tains cylin­der-count sta­tus.

Pal­let-swal­low­ing abil­ity and three-tonne tow­ing car­ries over.

No longer a crude work ute, the Amarok re­tains its wide, car-like cabin.

Ap­ple Carplay and An­droid Auto form part of the stan­dard kit.

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