Unadul­ter­ated diesel beef­cake

Multisport Mecca - - Motoring - Grant Ed­wards

Value

Get­ting this range-top­ping ute on the road will see lit­tle, if any, change from $70,000.

That takes it into lofty ter­ri­tory, but con­sid­er­ing many are happy to part with more than 100k for a range-top­ping LandCruiser then the Amarok is a bar­gain.

What buy­ers are chas­ing here is the hairy-chested V6 en­gine – a de­riv­a­tive of what we’ve seen in Audis and the Porsche Cayenne (en­gi­neers have taken a lit­tle shine off it) – which makes it Cherry Ripe for tow­ing.

By ute stan­dards it’s down­right fancy, get­ting niceties like nappa leather, stain­less steel side steps, 19-inch al­loy wheels, multi-func­tion steer­ing wheel, six-speaker touch­screen with satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion, full Blue­tooth con­nec­tiv­ity, auto park­ing and stain­less steel ped­als.

Com­fort

Those up front get height ad­just­ment, the drive has elec­tric func­tion­al­ity, but legroom is lim­ited in the rear.

The ac­com­mo­da­tion is still rea­son­able enough for adults, al­though bet­ter suited to kids.

Ac­cess­ing the child seat re­straint points can be chal­leng­ing with straps ei­ther side of the rear seat-back hav­ing to be pulled si­mul­ta­ne­ously for ac­cess.

Bot­tle hold­ers in each door are use­ful, as are the dual cup hold­ers in the cen­tre con­sole, but the floor-based ones in the rear lack func­tion­al­ity.

Driv­ing

Just bril­liant. Ex­er­cise your an­kle and the big ute hauls like a sports car.

Plant­ing your foot is re­warded with im­me­di­ate re­sponse, with no hint of turbo lag the light steer­ing makes the ute feel lithe.

Knif­ing through city traf­fic with ease, all that gusto makes for an easy car to drive, even with a load on the back. Most im­por­tantly the wife loved it and re­turned from a jour­ney with glow­ing en­dorse­ment.

There is even steer­ing wheel-mounted pad­dles if you want to take man­ual-style con­trol, al­though the eight-speed box does a mighty job of se­lect­ing the right cog in vary­ing con­di­tions.

Feel­ing adept on the dou­ble front wish­bones and a leaf-sprung rear sus­pen­sion there is some bounce, which is what you’d ex­pect from a ute which can han­dle 864kg in the back.

Safety

This is the chink in the Amarok ar­mour. It has a five-star safety rat­ing which was awarded back in 2011, one year be­fore cur­tain airbags ex­tend­ing into the rear were man­dated.

Ex­pect this to change for the 2018 model which will hope­fully ar­rive this year.

It still comes with some nice stuff like rear view cam­era and the full suite of ac­tive safety giz­mos like anti-lock brakes, trailer sway con­trol, sta­bil­ity and trac­tion con­trol, but goes with­out radar cruise con­trol.

Al­ter­na­tives

Key ri­val is the Ford Ranger Wild­track Dou­ble ($59,590),

Mazda BT-50 GT ($51,790) and the petrol-pow­ered Toy­ota HiLux SR5 ($56,390).

Ver­dict

Burst­ing with power, it makes the Amarok one of the best drives on the dual cab mar­ket.

Fam­i­lies will be con­cerned with the lack of airbags in the rear, al­though at the fore­front of the buy­ing de­ci­sion will be the out­stand­ing grunt of­fered by the V6.

There’s no doubt­ing it’s a fun drive.

PHO­TOS: CON­TRIB­UTED

The V6-pow­ered Volk­swa­gen Amarok Ul­ti­mate.

The VW Amarok eas­ily han­dles four moun­tain bikes.

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