V6 grunt makes this ute a luxurious beast
The New Zealand battle of the utes isn’t only about luxury and specification – it’s also about grunt.
That explains why engine outputs are slowly but surely climbing. It wasn’t that long ago that the first ute manufacturer – I think it was Mitsubishi – was able to proudly proclaim it had passed the 400 newton metres of torque mark with its four cylinder turbodiesel engine.
Now the manufacturers are all heading towards 500 newton metres out of four cylinders. In fact at least one has already got there. It’s Holden, which now extracts 500Nm out of the automatic version of its Colorado ute.
But there’s another way of increasing the power and torque of any ute. You simply move up an engine size – which is what Volkswagen has done with its Amarok ute.
Up until now the Amarok has been available in New Zealand with a four cylinder turbocharged diesel that offers 132 kilowatts of power and 420 newton metres of torque. Now it has pinched the V6 turbodiesel from its Touareg SUV and installed it under the Amarok’s bonnet, which has instantly transformed the vehicle into the most powerful standard one-tonne ute on the market.
It’s a bit of a beast. First impressions are that the V6 Amarok is a rather refined truck, full of all the necessary luxuries that would be expected out of a ute that retails for $73,990 for the Highline version we’ve been driving. And under normal circumstances it also drives in a nicely refined way.
But that engine offers 165 kilowatts of power and 550 newton metres of torque, which is enough to let this Amarok really perform. But, wait, there’s more. If you are travelling at more than 50kmh and you floor the accelerator pedal, an engine over-boost function will kick in increasing the power and torque to 180kW and 580Nm for about 10 seconds.
As a result, the Amarok V6 has the ability to scoot from a standstill to 100kmh in just 7.9 seconds, which is a full three seconds quicker than what can be achieved with the four cylinder version. More to the point, it also allows the V6 ute to quickly complete such actions as passing manouevres.
As mentioned earlier, the engine is essentially the same 3-litre turbo-diesel that powers a number of Audi-Volkswagen vehicles, including the Touareg, Audi Q7 and even the Porsche Cayenne. It’s been modified, of course, so its capability is more specific to what is required of a ute.
Those specifics include the fact the ute has to be off-road capable, so the power and torque is attained lower down the revolutions band than, say, the Touareg. Maximum power is reached at 3000 rpm, and the torque peaks from a very low 1400 rpm. So all that grunt is easily accessible with the Amarok V6, which has as standard Volkswagen’s 4Motion permanent four-wheel drive system, with its Torsen torque sensing centre differential.
It’s also a very good towing vehicle. It used to be that the Amarok was rated to tow 3000kg, but a special spring pack could be optioned in which took the rating to 3500kg. But when the V6 arrived, which was at the same time as the entire Amarok fleet was facelifted, the 3500kg spring pack became the standard.
The Amarok V6 really is a lovely ute to drive – if truth be told it feels more like an SUV than a ute. The interior is spacious and comfortable, and road handling is helped by a Servotronic power steering system. It feels nice.
But then again so do most other one-tonne utes currently on the Kiwi market. The big point of difference with this Volkswagen is that it offers the performance and flexibility of turbocharged 3.0-litre diesel V6 engine power, which combines very effectively with a fast-acting eight-speed automatic transmission.
That engine makes it the most powerful one-tonne ute in New Zealand. It’s all very appealing.
The Volkswagen Amarok V6 – relatively understated on the outside, but plenty of punch underneath.