LAT­EST AMAROK TESTED

Nei­ther time nor fa­mil­iar­ity have dulled the ap­peal of Volk­swa­gen’s twin-turbo 2.0 litre Amarok ute

NZ4WD - - CONTENTS - Story Ross MacKay.

With com­pe­ti­tion loom­ing of both key fronts ( Euro qual­ity and Chi­nese bang­for- buck) i t would be easy for ex­ist­ing ute mar­ket sta­ples like Volk­swa­gen’s 2.0 litre Amarok to be lost in a ver­i­ta­ble sand storm of new/ bet­ter/ best hype.

Which 1) would be a shame if you’re in the mar­ket for a new ute and have both an open mind and a de­cent bud­get, and 2) is no doubt why im­porter VW NZ of­fered us a mildly specced- up Com­fort­line model to drive for a week last month.

Here at NZ4WD mag­a­zine we have al­ways rated the Amarok highly. In fact had it not been for the slight­est of baubles on our steep grass test track it could well have beaten Ford Ranger to the Ute of The Year ti­tle in 2016.

As it is VW’s 4Mo­tion 4WD sys­tem is one of only two ( the other is the top- of-the­line Mit­subishi one) full-time sys­tems fit­ted to a mod­ern turbo- diesel dou­ble cab ute. The rest are part-time sys­tems with spe­cific in­struc­tions in the hand­book to only en­gage 4WD on a loose or slip­pery sur­face.

Gear­ing up

Com­peti­tors still sniff about the lack of trans­fer case but with eight – count’em – dif­fer­ent ‘gear’ ra­tios in the stan­dard auto trans­mis­sion you’re go­ing to have to be fairly de­ter­mined/ stupid to get an Amarok stuck!

In the in­ter­ests of ‘mythde­bunk­ing’ I have also done a fair old bit of tow­ing be­hind the sup­pos­edly ‘small’ ca­pac­ity 2.0 litre four cylin­der turbo diesel that re­mains the back­bone of the lo­cal Amarok ute range, and all I can say is that the thing tows my 2000kg trailer/ drift car combo like a boss!

The only is­sue I per­son­ally have with the al­ways will­ing and nicely free revving twin­turbo en­gine is that, off the bot­tom of the rev range it is kinda’ flat, and when the

tur­bos start do­ing their job the power and torque kicks in with a vengeance.

Peaky is the word I would use to de­scribe the sen­sa­tion if I was talk­ing about a mo­tor­bike en­gine. And the con­no­ta­tion would be neg­a­tive.

When it’s a turbo-diesel ute en­gine though, it’s ac­tu­ally quite a cool feel­ing, and one you get quite used to. Bot­tom line? Great en­gine, and one which pro­duces more than enough power (132kW) and

torque ( 420Nm) for ev­ery­thing a typ­i­cal buyer is go­ing to want an Amarok to do! For day to day work use, an Amarok’s key sell­ing points ( for me any­way) would be the large, airy in­te­rior, su­perbly all-day com­fort­able and sup­port­ive ‘ XXXL’ size front seats, and SUV- qual­ity ride, which, one-up on city streets, is firm yet com­pli­ant, and gets even bet­ter when you slow up off road.

Size-wise

Hav­ing set the tem­plate, size-wise, for the D/ C T/ D ute sec­tor when ( way back in 2010) when it was launched any Amarok re­mains a large, ever-so-much im­pos­ing, ‘ truck’ which casts a large shadow and dwarfs mere cars wher­ever it is parked. At ( just) over three tonne it’s no light­weight ei­ther. How­ever the ad­van­tages ( cabin, class- lead­ing tray space and ride com­fort) more than make up for any dis­ad­van­tage... like a ten­dency to push the nose ( un­der­steer) when you are in a bit of a hurry. At $ 57,990 you’re still pay­ing de­cent money for a model which must be near­ing the end of its de­sign cy­cle. But spec-wise you are get­ting se­ri­ous bang-for-your-buck inside and out. Inside you are look­ing at an ex­ec­u­tive car-like ana­logue/ dig­i­tal dash and in­fo­tain­ment pack­age with touch/ re­vers­ing mir­ror screen and Blue­tooth­based Ap­ple CarPlay and An­droid Auto con­nec­tiv­ity. Out­side Com­fort­line spec in­cludes 17-inch dia. al­loy wheels with 245/ 65 x 17 tyres plus a ver­i­ta­ble al­pha­bet soup of elec­tric driver aids in­clud­ing ESP with hill start and de­scent as­sist as well as a trailer sta­bil­i­sa­tion func­tion, and both on and off-road ABS, and an elec­tronic rear diff lock. Which is all very well. But you can read that in the brochure your­self. What you need to re­mem­ber if you are in the mar­ket for a new ( or used) T/ D D/ Cab ute is that the Amarok is by far the most re­fined and ‘car- like.’ Yet it has a true pay­load of just over 1000kgs, can tow up to 3200kg with­out rais­ing a sweat, and will go any­where an old Land Rover ever could on a farm.

Volk­swa­gen Amarok Com­fort­line.

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