Amarok is a welcome addition to the UK’s pick-up ranks and is a very competent performer, both on- and off-road. Excellent engines and high specification levels make it a definite for the shopping list. The only downside is that there are no single or extended cab options.
Amarok was introduced to the UK market in May 2011, following its unveiling at the CV Show the previous month, and marked Volkswagen’s return to the one tonne pick-up sector after an absence of 15 years. Designed in-house and built in Germany, Amarok is available solely as a four-wheel drive (4MOTION) double cab, with a choice of three specification levels; Startline, Trendline and Highline.
Electronically selectable four-wheel drive, complete with a set of low range ratios, can be had in combination with all three trim levels. The permanent 4x4 option, minus low range, can be had as a Highline model only, along with a ‘softer’ on-road rear suspension set-up. Gross vehicle weight with the former drivetrain is 3,170kg, dropping to 2,820kg for the latter.
Capable of accommodating a Euro pallet sideways, the load bed is 1,555mm long, 1,620mm wide — narrowing to 1,222mm between the wheel boxes — and the sidewalls are 508mm high. Rear loading height is 780mm. Payloads range from 1,064kg to 1,119kg, but drop to 750kg for the permanent 4x4 Highline; ruling out VAT reclamation.
Gross train weight is 5,500kg across the board with a maximum braked trailer weight of 2,690kg, except for the permanent 4MOTION model; it’s rated at 2,800kg.
Power comes from a choice of two 2.0-litre Euro 5 turbodiesels, derived from the engines found in the current T5 Transporter. The single turbo TDI produces 122hp/340Nm and comes solely in Startline trim. A 180hp/420Nm twin turbo BiTDI is available in all three specifications. A six-speed manual gearbox features across the range. Official Combined Cycle fuel consumption figures are quoted as 37.2mpg and 35.8mpg for the TDI and BiTDI respectively with CO2 emissions of 199g/km and 209g/km.
A latest generation ESP system comes as part of the package and includes ABS, Traction Control, Hill Hold Assist, Hill Descent Control and Trailer Stability Control. On- and off-road, Amarok literally takes care of itself and is virtually idiot-proof.
Specification levels are high, with entry-level Startline including remote central locking, electric windows and mirrors (heated), semi-auto air con, single CD/radio, driver and passenger air bags, and a Thatcham Category 1 alarm. Externally it gets 16in alloy wheels, colour-coded front bumper, load bed light and tow bar wiring pre-installed.
VW’s pick-up is a joy to drive, feeling more like being behind the wheel of a passenger car than a workhorse. The driving position is spot-on thanks to seat height adjustment combined with a reach and rake adjustable steering wheel, and the seats are comfortable and supportive. Even the rear seat passengers are afforded a goodly amount of legroom.
On-road ride is impressive for a rear leaf-sprung pick-up and there’s bags of torque available under the right foot. Handling is fine with the electronics taking care of the rear end; Amarok with selectable 4x4 is rear-wheel drive by default. It’s no slouch off-road either and thanks to all the ESP system components, even amateur mud-plugging drivers should be able to make good progress, unless they behave like an idiot.
Service intervals are dependent on usage and should be a minimum of 9,000 miles or one year, up to a maximum of 25,000 miles or two years. There’s a three year bumper-to-bumper mechanical warranty. The first two years with no mileage restrictions are manufacturer operated, while the third year (and up to 100,000 miles) is VW Van Centre cover.