Amarok ’n’ Roll

VW Amarok TDV6 ute first drive

Farms & Farm Machinery - - Contents -

Af­ter much spec­u­la­tion, so­cial media chat­ter and — for some punters — an­tic­i­pa­tion, the Volk­swa­gen V6 Amarok has fi­nally launched on Aus­tralian shores. And the tim­ing, quite frankly, couldn’t be bet­ter.

The dual-cab ute mar­ket is boom­ing; in fact, they’re the best­selling ve­hi­cles in Aus­tralia at the mo­ment.

We saw ma­jor up­dates and all-new plat­forms ar­rive lo­cally in 2015, but for 2016, with the ex­cep­tion of the up­dated Holden Colorado, Volk­swa­gen has the stage pretty much to it­self.

The cur­rent 2-litre/4-cylin­der diesel Amarok has not ex­actly been a sales slouch. VW di­rec­tor of com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles Car­los San­tos says the com­pany has put 41,000 Amaroks on the road since its 2011 de­but.

The 4-banger is a pretty good thing both on and off-road, but there have been some mut­ter­ings about small stature of the bi-turbo 2-litre.

With Nis­san drop­ping the V6 STX-550 Navara be­fore the ar­rival of the NP300 in 2015, the Aus­tralian mar­ket has been wide open for a pre­mium 4x4 dual cab ute.

Mercedes Benz is a good 12 months away from launch­ing the X-Class and the Renault Alaskan isn’t due here any time soon. So Volk­swa­gen has stepped into the breach with a timely as­sault on the Aussie pre­mium ute mar­ket.

As San­tos puts it, “We’ve been hop­ing and wish­ing for this ve­hi­cle for some time.”

In the lead up to the launch Volk­wa­gen deal­ers had al­ready fielded 7,311 leads, 70 per cent of which were be­lieved to be hot-to-trot cus­tomers.

“For us Aus­tralia is im­por­tant,” says Volk­swa­gen di­rec­tor of in­ter­na­tional sales Dr Jan Michel, who was also on hand at the Aussie launch. “Aus­tralia rep­re­sents the big­gest mar­ket for Amarok by vol­ume world­wide.”

But, tellingly, as other man­u­fac­tur­ers shy away from the term ‘ute’ in favour of ‘pickup’ and ‘truck’, Volk­swa­gen rep­re­sen­ta­tives, in­clud­ing Michel, keep run­ning with the ute line like an in­tended stamp on the Aussie mar­ket.

The TDV6 will be avail­able in High­line and Ul­ti­mate form.

The High­line sits on 18-inch al­loy wheelss while the top-end jig­ger sits on 19s.

The usual as­sort­ment of kit is also present in the form of cli­mate con­trol, a 6.33-inch touch screen multi-media in­ter­face with rear-view cam­era, and elec­tronic anti-crash­ing tech — in­clud­ing a multi-col­li­sion brake that slows the car to 10km/h af­ter an im­pact to pre­vent fur­ther crashes if there’s no in­put from the driver.

The TDV6 also now gets 4-wheel disc brakes and tyre pres­sure mon­i­tor­ing.

The ex­te­rior has copped a freshen-up with a new grille and fog light ar­range­ment.

Ul­ti­mate and High­line mod­els are eas­ily spot­ted with dif­fer­ent sports bars grac­ing the tub.

The Ul­ti­mate also gets the op­tion of Nappa leather up­hol­stery and 14-way ad­justable elec­tric seats.

But, as VW prod­uct mar­ket­ing man­ager Nick Reid says, “It’s all about the en­gine.”

The 3-litre, com­mon-rail, turbo-diesel V6 has been used in other VW fam­ily prod­ucts as well, namely Audi and Porsche.

In the Amarok the en­gine scores a sin­gle vari­able ge­om­e­try turbo, a larger baf­fled sump and heav­ier-duty pis­tons and cylin­der lin­ings de­signed to cope with low speed and high load ap­pli­ca­tions.

It’s a 24-valve OHC en­gine that shuns a belt drive for a chain. The com­mon rail fuel sys­tem blows di­nosaur juice into the donk with 2000 bar of force. On the emis­sions side it uses both EGR and SCR to clean up the ex­haust nas­ties so it does need AdBlue. The V6 oiler makes 165kW of power at 3,000 rpm and 550Nm of twisty force at a very flex­i­ble 1,500 rpm. This torque curve runs up to 2,750 rpm.

But it’s also got an over­boost ace up its sleeve that gives an ex­tra 15kW of power for 10 sec­onds when the loud pedal is nailed. Af­ter that you have to back off on the pedal for 5 sec­onds be­fore tap­ping into the ex­tra oomph again.

For the time be­ing the TDV6 is auto only and uses a ZF-sourced 8-speed torque con­verter auto. The 4x4 sys­tem is ac­tu­ally an all-wheel-drive set up with a Torsen cen­tre diff and a 60 per cent drive bias to the rear wheels.

For off-road du­ties there’s an off-road mode se­lected via a push-but­ton. This is the same as the cur­rent 4-cylin­der au­tos.

Aus­tralia rep­re­sents the big­gest mar­ket for Amarok by vol­ume world­wide.

A 6-speed man­ual/2-speed trans­fer case model is slated for re­lease mid-2017.

Pay­load for the High­line is 911kg while the Ul­ti­mate gets a pay­load of 864kg. But the in­ter­est­ing thing about this ute is the tow rat­ing ver­sus the GCM.

The Volksy is rated for 3,000kg (braked) tow­ing, 500kg shy of the seg­ment bench­mark. But it’s now got a GCM of 6,000kg. In short this means you can tow 3 tonnes and still carry 800kg in the tub. Many oth­ers can’t.

Other VW hall­marks haven’t changed, in­clud­ing a low 780mm load height and the abil­ity to fit an Aussie-sized pal­let be­tween the wheel arches.


On climb­ing aboard the TDV6 I was still greeted by an unashamedly com­mer­cial dash­board, even if my butt was nes­tled in black leather.

The ‘big’ 6 un­der the bon­net was silky smooth when fired up. Given the power rat­ing of this ute I was maybe ex­pect­ing power to be de­liv­ered with a shove. In­stead it un­folds.

In fact, the most no­tice­able gain in per­for­mance is in the mid­dle of the rev range, plant the foot when rolling and the Amarok reels out its power in a strong yet mea­sured fash­ion. Like the wolf that is its name­sake, on the open road it lopes along with ease.

The TDV6’s road man­ners are some­what star­tlingly re­fined for this kind of ve­hi­cle. Low-speed steer­ing through the bush and on dirt is ex­cel­lent, how­ever at high­way speeds (and above) the wheel feels very light and gives a twitchy feel to an oth­er­wise solid-rid­ing ute.

Han­dling on wind­ing roads is ac­tu­ally quite lin­ear, which feels weird in a ute!

The V6 doesn’t have a com­mer­cial sound even when work­ing hard. In fact, from 3,000 to 4,000rpm it has quite a throaty rasp to its sound­track. We drove the Ul­ti­mate both empty and loaded with 260kg, and it went bet­ter, han­dled bet­ter and rode bet­ter with some weight in the tub.

The com­fort pack rear spring op­tion won’t be avail­able un­til some time this year.

Ul­ti­mately, the Amarok TDV6 is a plush yet punchy work/play propo­si­tion. And the big­ger en­gine has made it a very co­he­sive pack­age on the road and in the dirt.

1. The Volk­swa­gen Amarok Ul­ti­mate

TDV6 ute’s road man­ners are sur­pris­ingly re­fined

2. The ute fea­tures a 6.33-inch

touch­screen multi-media in­ter­face

3. The dash­board is com­mer­cial, but your

butt nes­tles in black leather

4. An Aussie-sized pal­let can fit be­tween

the wheel arches

5. The TDV6 is a very co­he­sive pack­age

TDV6 ute

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