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.

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