A 550Nm 3.0 litre turbodiesel V6 has given VW’S Amarok a new lease on life. Ross Mackay has the story.
There’s an old saying in politics that ‘if power corrupts, then absolute power corrupts absolutely.’ Having just returned the press demonstrator to VW NZ, I think I know what the bloke who came up with the quip, 19th century British historian Lord Acton, was on about. Never mind that in twin-turbo diesel 2.0 litre four cylinder form an Amarok was hardly lacking power or torque. Or grip for that matter. But as the Americans are wont to say ‘there’s no replacement for displacement.’ So when the opportunity to add a ‘full cream’ 3.0 litre V6 model to the existing ’trim milk’ 2.0 litre lineup presented itself, VW NZ boss Tom Ruddenklau grabbed it with both hands. There are two V6s in the 2017 Amarok line-up, both eight-speed auto-equipped full-time (4Motion) four-wheel-drives but a Highline spec one with an RP of $73,990 and a top-of-the-line Adventura spec one with an RRP of $82,990. Big money for a working ute, but as Ruddenklau said at the launch; “The new V6 will be the hero ute in the New Zealand market. It will occupy the boss’s carpark at work.” And fair enough. Because having spent a week behind the wheel of an Adventura, all I can say is wow! For a start the Amarok has always been one of the biggest, roomiest and best riding (particularly one-up on city and country roads). Add a luxury SUV level of comfort which – in the Adventura model includes a sleek new-look dash, Apple Carplay equipped infotainment screen and heated, Nappa leather-trimmed, electrically-adjustable front seats and you have a cabin any CEO would be proud of sharing with his braying buddies on the way to the next hostile takeover strategy meeting. Because it is wider than other double cab utes there is also plenty of shoulder room in the rear, though leg and knee room is still a bit short, particularly if those up front are built like basketballers. The same goes with the tray, widest in the sector with room for a pallet between the arches. In terms of day-to-day use, ride and general drivability remains a standout in the sector. Handling is nose-heavy, albeit nice and neutral rather than understeery when you push it and with discs now front and rear there is both power and a nice progressive feel at the brake lever. It’s the engine that is the real star here though, with 165kws of punchy peak power and best-in-class torque figure of 550Nm, plus an over boost function of up to 180kw. The way the Audi A7/porsche Cayennederived engine works hand-in-hand with the eight-speed auto transmission really has to be experienced to be believed, changes also imperceptible on a soft throttle and like a rifle bolt (up and down) when you are, er, pushing the envelope. The introduction of the new V6 line also heralds a minor facelift complete with new alloy wheel and the spec now includes Automatic Post-collision Braking System. The arrival of the V6 model as part of a new, facelifted line has given Volkswagen New Zealand the opportunity to realign the entire Amarok range. For instance, all Amarok models will now come with 4Motion 4WD as standard, selective in the six-speed manual model, permanent with the eight-speed automatic ones. In addition, the 2.0 litre, four-cylinder models receives between $4,000 – $15,000 in specification enhancements and/or price reductions with the range kicking off with a 4Motion twin-turbo 2.0 litre, four-cylinder “Core” model from $49,990.