VW Amarok V6 Sport­line

Volk­swa­gen’s longserv­ing Amarok has a new – and po­tent – lease on life thanks to V6 diesel power

Farms & Farm Machinery - - Contents -

he Amarok is the old­est ute here (2010), although it only gained its three-litre V6 diesel in late 2016. For its part, the V6 en­gine ac­tu­ally dates back to 2004 and is a VW fam­ily (Audi) de­sign used in var­i­ous Porsche, Audi and VW mod­els.

For use in the Amarok, it’s been de­tuned and, at the same time, strength­ened in the bot­tom end to help ac­com­mo­date its new ‘work­ing’ or com­mer­cial ve­hi­cle role.

The V6 is only avail­able with an au­to­matic trans­mis­sion and sin­gle-range full-time 4WD at this stage.

POW­ER­TRAIN AND PER­FOR­MANCE

De­tuned is, how­ever, a rel­a­tive word here, as the Amarok’s V6 still cranks out at least 165kW (221hp), and as much as 180kW (241hp), if you wish. (Com­pare that with the next best power fig­ure: the 147kW of the Ranger, BT-50 and Colorado.)

Throw in the closer ra­tios and quick shift­ing of the Amarok’s eight-speed au­to­matic, com­bined with rel­a­tively short fi­naldrive gear­ing, and it’s ‘see you later’ in any sort of side-by-side per­for­mance con­test.

In this com­pany, it’s Amarok first, day­light sec­ond.

The 180kW comes via an over­boost func­tion that op­er­ates at 70 per cent or more throt­tle in third and fourth gears, the cru­cial on-road per­for­mance and high­way over­tak­ing gears. Not that you’d know any of this is hap­pen­ing, as the tran­si­tion from 165kW to 180kW is to­tally seam­less.

Equally im­pres­sive is the V6’s bot­tom-end torque with its class­whip­ping 550Nm on tap from just 1,500rpm. That’s more off idle than even the big­ger-ca­pac­ity (3.2-litre) en­gines in Ranger and BT-50. Com­bine this low-rpm grunt with a will­ing­ness to rev and the V6 of­fers a po­tent wide-rpm flex­i­bil­ity that no other en­gine here can match.

All the while, the V6’s re­fine­ment and noise con­trol is the best of any en­gine here and, along with the eight-speed auto – the slick­est gear­box here – it gives the Amarok a unique lux­ury car feel in this com­pany.

ON-ROAD RIDE AND HAN­DLING

Full-time 4x4 is the Amarok’s on-road trump card and some­thing that sets it apart from the other utes here, Tri­ton ex­cepted.

In any con­di­tions aside from dead-dry sealed roads, full-time 4x4 of­fers grip, safety and drive­abil­ity ad­van­tages. To all this, the Amarok adds qual­ity sus­pen­sion that gen­er­ally feels plush in the com­pany, com­mu­nica­tive steer­ing and the ‘feel’ of a much smaller ute to pro­vide a driv­ing con­fi­dence like no other.

As we have noted be­fore, com­pared to other utes, the Amarok feels like a rally car.

LOAD CAR­RY­ING

Class-lead­ing torque is the best way to cope with heavy loads and so the Amarok’s en­gine dis­pensed with the 900kg pay­load eas­ier than any en­gine here. In fact, it hardly felt it.

There was good per­for­mance from the chas­sis too when loaded to the max­i­mum, although it wasn’t as ab­so­lutely rock steady as the Ranger.

No doubt the 550Nm would also help when tow­ing the Amarok’s 3,500kg tow limit, which matches the best here, while its 6,000kg GCM matches the Ranger, BT-50 and Colorado. The Sport­line, be­ing the light­est of the three Amarok V6s, also has a solid 1,000kg pay­load fig­ure.

The Amarok’s tray is the only one here to fit a full-size pal­let

be­tween the wheel arches, a very nice prac­ti­cal touch if you wish to have the looks and aero ef­fi­ciency of a fac­tory tub com­bined with some of the load-car­ry­ing prac­ti­cal­ity of an af­ter­mar­ket tray. You have to won­der why the other ute man­u­fac­tur­ers didn’t think of this.

All four of the Amarok’s tie-down hooks in the tub are also mounted low down, where com­mon sense tells you they should be, and there’s also a work light above the tub and a 12-volt out­let – both prac­ti­cal fea­tures.

OFF ROAD

With­out a two-speed high- and low-range trans­fer case, you might think the Amarok’s star would fade off road, but that’s not the case. In fact, nowhere near it, as the Amarok of­fers top-shelf off-road abil­ity (matched only by HiLux and Ranger) with an ease of use that puts it well out on its own.

Its num­ber-one party trick is that it can go from whizzing down a free­way at what­ever speed you dare, to climb­ing a gnarly off-road hill with­out hav­ing to touch a but­ton or lever.

It’s that sim­ple and clever as it al­ways is in 4x4; the cen­tre diff locks au­to­mat­i­cally and it gets by with­out low range thanks to a rel­a­tively low first gear in the eight-speed au­to­matic and the spe­cial cal­i­bra­tion of the torque con­ver­tor.

The Amarok’s strong off-road per­for­mance also comes off the back of its rel­a­tively long travel sus­pen­sion, and, if you do get into dif­fi­culty, there’s rear diff lock that keeps the traction con­trol on the front wheels ac­tive. An­other box ticked. Good vi­sion from the driver’s seat and a ‘clean’ un­der­side are other off-road pos­i­tives.

The only chink in the Amarok’s off-road ar­moury is the en­gine air in­take be­ing lo­cated in the en­gine bay, which makes it the first can­di­date for a snorkel (or a tarp) amongst the best off-road utes if you in­tend to use if for deeper wa­ter ford­ing.

CABIN AND SAFETY

The Amarok’s cabin is no­tably spa­cious (it’s the widest here), very well fin­ished, and of­fers tilt-and-reach steer­ing wheel ad­just­ment for the driver.

The width across the back seat is par­tic­u­larly good with three adults on board, although the com­bined front-to-rear legroom is not as good as Ranger and BT-50. There are no airbags for rearseat pas­sen­gers, how­ever, although it still has a five-star ANCAP safety rat­ing. No sat-nav, ei­ther, at this spec level.

PRAC­TI­CAL­I­TIES

A lack of VW deal­ers in coun­try ar­eas isn’t ideal and some in­de­pen­dent workshops would pre­fer to ser­vice some­thing that they are more fa­mil­iar with. The long ser­vice in­ter­vals (12 months or 15,000km) do, how­ever, off­set this to some ex­tent.

De­spite the V6 Amarok get­ting big­ger front brakes than the four-cylin­der mod­els, you can still fit 17s to re­place the fac­tory 18s (or 19s on up-spec V6s) to open up your tyre choice.

It gets a tick for the tilt-an­dreach steer­ing wheel

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