IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR A UTE IN THE $100+K SECTOR, AT ‘JUST’ $ 90K VW’S TOP-OF-THE-LINE V6 3.0 LITRE TDI-POWERED AMAROK AVENTURA COULD WELL BE CONSIDERED A BARGAIN. BECAUSE, LIKE BEAUTY, VALUE IS ALL IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER!
OK, let’s cut right to the chase here. The thing I most like about Volkswagen’s Amarok – any model, new or old – is its sheer size – in particular its capacious interior dimensions.
One of the regular freelance photographers I use, Graham Hughes, feels the same way. He’s a big fella, Graham, long of back and broad of beam, and after jamming him into the passenger seats of all manner of 4x4 utes and SUVs the last time we had an Amarok on a group test, once he got in it, looked around, got back out to put his camera gear in the back seat, then finally climbed back beside me he, he wiggled around, found the seat belt, buckled himself in, then turned to look at me and said ‘I like this. This is a big person’s ute.”
To be fair, Graham was also taken with Ford’s Ranger Raptor – and not because of the performance Ford model’s stand-out twin-turbo two-litre fourcylinder engine, 10-speed transmission or even its Fox Shox-equipped chassis.
No. It was because of the design of the – in his case figure-hugging – sports seats which he reckoned were, ‘like the ones in the Amarok, made for a big bugger like me!”
So there you go. When I was first offered a drive in the local distributor’s line-topping 3.0l V6 TDI-powered Amarok Aventura (after hearing nary a peep from the company for the past 18 months) I thought it would be the stonking V6 engine which would deliver – and leave – the greatest impression.
HOLY MOTHER OF MOSES
Don’t get me wrong, the 190kW/580Nm powerplant certainly did make an – overwhelmingly favourable at that – impression on me. Not though in the ‘Holy Mother of Moses’ way its ability to gather you up and literally fling you, catapult-like, at the horizon, did on my first acquaintance with it twoand-a-bit years ago now.
Since then, you see, the ute world has moved on, with ‘HMoM’ honours now belonging to RAM and its ‘plus-size’ V8 petrol fuelled 1500 ‘super-ute.’
Not that that should be seen as any sort of negative reflection on the Amarok V6 line in general and the line-topping Aventura in particular.
Like - by the look of it most Sportline and Aventura owners in the 09 calling area – I didn’t take the test unit ‘off-road’ this time either. While I have driven a V6 Sportline on gravel and sand, plus done a full day’s driving off-road in a two-litre four-cylinder twin turbo model, time and the weather conspired against me this time.
Don’t worry, I am due to the test the limited edition Darkside version of the current V6 line-up in July so I will be able to report on the difference the power and torque boost make then.
Not that I intend to subject someone else’s $ 60+K vehicle to the sort of torture test that Shauno Whale and his 4x4 Action mates across the Tasman dished out in a recent multi-vehicle ute comparison.
Youtuber Shauno correctly pointed out that – for really hard-core Aussie off-roading – the V6 Amarok they tested came up short in several areas. Ultimate grip thanks to the lack of a low-range transfer case was the one I had to reluctantly agree with him on. But mind you, you are going to have to be in the gnarliest sort of bush track for this to be an issue.
IMPRESSIVE AS ALL HELL
Elsewhere – and in this case I mean, the daily to-and-from work or work site use a typical Kiwi owner would buy an Amarok for – the seamless way the eight-speed transmission works in tandem with the broadspread of torque-saturated power (either by itself, or if you are towing and want to actively manage the process of keeping things ‘on-the-boil’ yourself) of the turbine-smooth V6 TDi is as impressive as all hell.
Throw into the dynamic mix a rare compliance and as close to perfectly-damped ride at the rear (either one-up round town or oneup with cab and tray packed to the gunwales full of tools and race car gear and at least 1600kg of drift car and trailer hitched on behind) plus large, heated, 14-way electrically-adjustable all-day-comfortable leather-upholstered, driver’s seat, and seriously, if there is a better, more relaxing full-time 4WD DC ute out there, I’ve yet to drive it.
So what – Shauno, mate! – if the alternator is mounted so low in the engine bay you reckon it’s going to be underwater every time you venture down Tasmania’s tough-as ‘$1000 Track.’ And really, how many Kiwi buyers are going to dip the nose of their $ 90K Amarok Aventura so deep into their own bow wave (without a snorkel) that they are going to risk water entering the front-mounted airbox. Answer? Bugger all.
Instead, your typical buyer and no doubt very satisfied owner will probably already own, or have owned a top end Audi, BWW or Mercedes-Benz car or SUV but be looking for something more fitting his (or her) active (boat, horse, dirt bike, race car, MTB-lugging) lifestyle.
UNLEASHING THE HOUNDS
Big city, small town or still living out in the country, said buyer/owner will appreciate the V6 turbo-diesel’s almost uncanny ability to take whatever size trailer and boat, race car or recreational vehicle they want to tow in its not inconsiderable stride.
And though I’m sure they would deny it in polite conversation... I’m thinking that at least once in their first year of ownership they have put foot to floor to sort out once and for one of those silly motorway on-ramp situations where some knob-end races up from behind and tries to bully his (or her!) way into the merging line.
Because when you do decide to ‘unleash-the-beast’ boy the thing jumps ahead… accompanied by the sort of hard-edged bark of an exhaust note to – if you like – remind you that you have actually unleashed a pack of baying, slathering hounds, and that once they have done their job they will have to be rounded up and put back in their kennel again!
Me? As I said at the start of this write-up I just liked the big, roomy cockpit. And driving the thing.