Volkswagen is one of the new kids on the block when it comes to pick up trucks. Just over six years ago, the Amarok brought something new to the party. It saw the opportunity to offer a practical and utilitarian four by four flatbed, but with the build quality we’ve come to expect from the German manufacturer.
This latest 2016 model though improves things further with more grown up looks, more fuel-efficient engines and more standard equipment. But with competition in this segment also upping their game, how does the latest Amarok fair?
Well from the outside, you can see the familiar Volkswagen face, with this pronounced grille and headlamps and this prominent VW badge. The Amarok is a bit more rounded than some of its more angular competition; this gives it more of a car-like appeal.
Whereas some of the Amaroks rivals are available as two or four doors, the VW is only available as a four door, five-seat model. Inside, the cabin is one of the best in class. Whereas most ‘commercial vehicles’ claim to have car like cabins, the Amarok is one of the few that actually delivers. It really is put together with high quality materials, and anyone familiar with the VW line up will have no trouble getting to grips with the switchgear and infotainment system. The driving position is adjustable, as you’d expect, as is the seating position, which is very tall, giving a king of the road view over the road ahead.
Some of the practicality you’d find in commercial vehicles is carried over too, so there’s no shortage of cubby-holes or places to store odds and sods, and the glove box is a decent size as well. If load lugging is high up your wish list then the Amarok is well worth considering, it has one of the largest load bays of any double cab, with a volume of 2.5 square meters, enough to take a Europallet sideways in the back. It can also carry in excess of a tonne and will be able to tow 3 tonnes, 3.5 tonnes with the 4motion auto.
Originally the Amarok was equipped with a range of 2.0-litre diesel engines, which were economical but not very punchy. Now though, gone has the 2.0-litre instead replaced with a more powerful 221bhp 3.0-litre TDI diesel, borrowed from the Touareg. While more fuel efficient V6 engines are expected next year, the 221bhp will return over 37 miles per gallon and emissions of 199g/km. That might not sound that impressive, but consider this is the most powerful version that will be available and will do the 0-60mph dash in under 8 seconds. Not bad for a work truck.
Pick-ups have never been the best riding vehicles, they are commercial vehicles after all, but the Amarok is surprisingly good, especially when you take into consideration its large dimensions. While the ride on most competition can be a bit unsettled, the VW is pretty strong in this department. It absorbs imperfections with ease and there’s less of the rolling body when driving through twisty roads.
The Amarok is one of the best driving pick-ups on the market and the 3.0-litre diesel engine is impressively smooth and quick. The premium feel of the interior is another massive draw, the only drawbacks though are the running costs are expensive, and while a less powerful more efficient engine is on the cards, other rivals might be more tempting. The lack of a single cab may put some people off too.