Vehicle Style: Dual-cab utility
Fuel Economy (claimed): 7.7 l/100km
Fuel Economy (tested): 8.9 l/100km
The Amarok is Volkswagen’s gutsy first foray into the ultra-competitive dual-cab utility market, and it’s not a bad effort. Far from it.
The entry-level 2WD variant we tested misses out on some of the frills of others in the range, but is an enticing package for commercial fleets, tradies and families looking for the versatility of a good sized ute-tub.
Quality: The interior trim and materials are not up to the standard of Volkswagen’s passenger car range, but there’s a quality feel to things that puts the Amarok a step above most of its nearest competitors. Plastics are good and fit and finish is hard to fault. It even comes with carpeted door bins.
Comfort: With both reach and rake adjustment for the steering column and height adjustment for both front seats, getting comfortable in the Amarok is easy. The tall seating position offers a commanding view of the road ahead, and there’s lots of leg, knee and headroom.
The Amarok’s back seats are easily the best in the dual-cab ute class, with loads of legroom, a wide bench, a raked backrest, loads of headroom and decent legroom.
Equipment: For features, the base model 2WD we tested is stripper-spec, with only remote central locking, power windows, heated wing mirrors, semi-automatic air conditioning, 16-inch steel wheels and a two-speaker CD tuner as standard.
Cruise control, a trip computer, under-body bash plates and alloy wheels are optional.
Storage: The glovebox and centre console box are too small to be properly useful, however each door features a large storage bin and there are storage trays at the top and bottom of the centre stack.
The tub has generous dimensions, measuring 155cm long by 162cm wide, with 122cm between the arches and 51cm from the top of the tub to the bottom.
The tailgate stays can be detached to allow forklifts to drop pallets right into the tub, and the Amarok’s maximum payload is just over a tonne. Braked towing capacity is 2800kg.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: The Amarok’s 2.0 litre twin-turbo diesel is one of the smallest in the dual-cab diesel ute segment, with only the Ssangyong Actyon using a motor of similar displacement.
While it toils manfully, there’s a fair amount of turbo lag off idle even though the Amarok’s on-paper torque figure of 400Nm at 1500rpm would suggest otherwise.
Drive it like a petrol engine by using more revs and that problem isn’t as significant, but the Amarok still doesn’t feel as strong as some of its Japanese competitors - despite its class-topping 120kW output.
The six-speed gearbox gives plenty of ratios to choose from, but the shifter feels fragile and vague. The clutch take-up could also use some recalibration to dial out its aggressive engagement.
Refinement: Interior noise is low compared to other dual-cab diesels, with wind noise and tyre roar also well suppressed. There was, however, a mysterious and intermittent “clonk “ from the rear of the cabin that we couldn’t track down.
Suspension: The Amarok’s suspension is soft without being wallowy and remarkably comfortable for a high-riding commercial with a leaf-sprung rear end.
It also has car-like handling traits, and doesn’t feel as ponderous at the wheel as some of its competitors.
Braking: The Amarok’s front-disc with rear-drum brake package is powerful, but the brake pedal has a very long travel and a spongy feel.
ANCAP rating: 5 stars
Safety features: Front and front side airbags, three-point seatbelts on all seats (pretensioning front seatbelts), stability control, traction control, ABS, brake assist, hill-hold assist.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years/unlimited kilometres.
Service costs: Service intervals are set for every 15,000km/12 months, with general servicing costs ranging between $430 and $760. The first major service is due at 105,000km/7 years, and costs around $1350.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
Mitsubishi Triton GLX 4x2 Double Cab diesel manual ($32,590) - 100kW and 314Nm isn’t terribly impressive compared to the Amarok’s 120kW and 400Nm, nor is the Mitsubishi’s interior quality.
Maximum payload and towing capacity are also well under those of the Amarok. (see Triton reviews)
Nissan Navara D40 RX 4x2 Dual Cab diesel manual ($30,600) - While the Navara D40 4x4 enjoys an Amarok-beating 126kW/403Nm 2.5 litre turbodiesel, the RWD variant makes do with only 106kW and 356Nm from a de-tuned version of the same engine. (see Navara reviews)
Toyota HiLux SR 4x2 Double Cab diesel manual ($32,590) - 126kW and 343Nm are healthy numbers, and the HiLux’s 3.0 litre engine easily feels the strongest in its segment.
The HiLux’s tub is not as wide nor as deep as the Amarok’s though, and the Toyota can only tow a maximum of 2250kg. (see HiLux reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Volkswagen deserves kudos for bringing a new level of refinement and comfort to a segment mostly populated by austere, utilitarian workhorses.
It’s a solid vehicle and feels durable, and once you adapt to the Amarok’s slow torque delivery it’s also a very nice car to drive.
It’s a little more expensive than most of its competitors, yes, but what the Amarok offers in terms of the quality and versatility of the package, more than compensates for the price tag.