GUTS & GLORY
Driven: Volkswagen’s powerful new V6 Amarok
The six cylinder turbodiesel is the making of the dual cab ute with buyers lining up for the top of the range Ultimate from $73,736 drive away. The Highline, as reviewed, is $65,416 on the road.
But it’s the bigger engine with 550Nm of torque which is making all the noise.
The V6 is 18kW more than the nearest competitor with an extra 80Nm of torque.
Sales are up modestly by 3.4 per cent this year (577), topped by the Ford Ranger (2221) and the Amarok sits toward the lower end of the 150,000 unit a year segment.
Last year’s sales were 7500, far below the 31,088 of the Ranger.
The German car-maker shook up the off-roader landscape seven years ago with its eight-speed auto, but with no low range, Amarok. It featured constant all-wheel drive with the comfort, ride and handling close to a car but still capable off-road.
There have been a few questions about the 2.0-litre four-cylinder Amarok’s longterm reliability under heavyload stresses, but that’s been thrown out the window with the V6 power plant.
VW is offering the V6 Amarok in two spec levels: Highline and Ultimate.
Highline has bi-xenon headlights with integrated daytime running lights, fog lights, 18in alloy wheels, stainless-steel side steps, tyrepressure-monitoring system, climate-control, 6.3-inch colour touchscreen (the latestgeneration Discover Media unit) with sat-nav, VW’s AppConnect suite (with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto), DAB digital radio, reversing
camera, front and rear parking sensors, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming and four 12volt power outlets.
The 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6 is the same engine as that in the Porsche Cayenne and Audi Q7. The power and torque figures are solid for a ute and grow even more impressive when overboost is available from 70 per cent throttle in third or fourth gear to produce a hefty 180kW and 580Nm.
The Amarok V6 is great on bitumen. It’s comfortable, the engine is quiet, road noise is subdued but wind noise was quite noticeable.
The Amarok has excellent steering precision and grip, aided by the road-biased Continental tyres, and was superb on our range roads.
The steering is a touch too light at suburban speeds and, oddly, a touch too heavy at car park speeds, probably because of the larger weight of the bigger engine over the front wheels. Most impressive is the grunt. Matched to an eightspeed auto, the TDV6 has brisk acceleration and accessible overtaking power throughout the rev range once on the move.
With that in mind, Volkswagen has seen fit to equip the Amarok with large four-wheel-disc brakes to give it sufficient stopping power.
It tackled a Misty Mountains track with ruts, creek crossings, slippery gravel and mud easily between Henrietta Creek on the Palmerston Highway through to the Old Palmerston Highway between Ravenshoe and Millaa Millaa.
Volkswagen says the Amarok should average 7.8L/100km (combined). On my drive the dash showed 10.9L/100km over 336km and that was after plenty of lively driving on bitumen, dirt and a bit of off-road action. It has an 80-litre fuel tank.
The Amarok has always been a classy yet highly functional ute and the new V6 adds a new dimension. It has a great engine, nice and comfortable interior and good ride and handling. It’s a good looking and practical. Cheaper and manual versions are on the way. But there are no rear-seat airbags and the computer touchscreen is too small.