The new, larger-than-life Amarok offers all the comfort, convenience and capability that a gamekeeper could need, writes Ed Coles
Price as reviewed: £50,931
Volkswagen joined the pickup market in 2010 with the upmarket Amarok. Now, 13 years later, we have the second-generation Amarok to play with. (Read Ed’s review of the Amarok Highline here.)
With the all-new version, Volkswagen has joined forces with Ford and they are using the same platform as the Ranger. The Amarok is available in four specs; Life, Style, PanAmericana and Aventura. We’re taking a look at the middle spec Style two-litre TDI 4motion, so without further ado let’s get knee-deep.
The Amarok looks quite a beast with its loud blue exterior. It’s 96mm longer than before, the wheelbase is 173mm longer and the wading depth has risen from 500mm to 800mm. The bold bumper and grille are flanked by Volkswagen’s iQ LED lights, and the contrasting silver trim breaks things up nicely. The side view is equally beastie, with big doors and large sidesteps. Finished off with 18in alloys it does look pretty stylish — as much as a pickup can, anyway.
Under the bonnet there’s a two-litre bi-turbo diesel, stabling 205 tiny horses that produce 500Nm of torque. There’s a 10-speed automatic gearbox and a lockable diff. With four gearbox settings and six drive modes, there’s a setting for every eventuality, including a towing setting for pulling 3.5 tonnes. It all looks good, though they could’ve taken the Ford badges off the engine.
The load bay is massive but could do with a load liner. The sides and tailgate are equally huge and come up to the chin of a fun-sized gamekeeper. Throwing stuff over the side will take a bit more grunt and I could do with a ladder to get on the tailgate. Capable of carrying over a tonne, a whole pallet would fit in with room to spare and we’re well into 20-plus bags of wheat territory.
Crouching down, we can take in quite a few of the workhorse bits. There’s still a fair amount of plastic and strengthened metal work, but we can see the double wishbone suspension, ladder chassis and a there’s a good view of the lockable diff at the back. Ground clearance has increased to 237mm, so the only concern is the road-going tyres.
Inside it’s definitely Volkswagen: simplistic, stylish and understated. It has a high-end feel to it in the cabin, not least with the Art Velours microfleece seats, but even at full height I’m struggling to see over the bonnet. It’s comfy and spacious inside and all looks user-friendly. The gadgets are controlled by the central touchscreen and all the usual abbreviations, entertainment, connectivity and driver aids are present. Wireless charging for the phone is handy and the AC is epic.
The back is equally comfy and spacious, but fitting the child seat scored an unrivalled 100% on the faff-o-meter, so I gave up with the Isofix fitting.
The first task for the Amarok is reversing out of my driveway. There’s a mild bit of wobbling as we traverse the craters but the suspension handles them well. But even with the seat right up, I struggle to see the end of the bonnet. Thank God for the parking cameras.
The Amarok pulls off smoothly and slightly sedately. Not much happens in the first three gears but eventually we start working through the 10-speed automatic and the drive and acceleration increase — it actually feels quite nippy for a pickup. The ride is smooth and holds the road well. Cruising along is effortless. The standard pickup fluttering through the suspension is there, but only minimally, and we are sitting slightly high and a bit top-heavy.
Pulling on to the back road and braking hard, I become aware I’m in a nearly 3.5-tonne vehicle as the weight shifts. Despite its size and weight, the Amarok handles the tight twists well, although passing traffic involves breathing in a bit. With minimal body roll, the Amarok is stable and precise for a big vehicle and the ride is comfortable over the ripples and bumps. Town driving is no problem and negotiating the car park isn’t too bad either.
Time to see what she’s like off-piste. So selecting 4H and the mud/rutt setting, off we go up the back track. There’s an impressive dust cloud trailing as I put my foot down, and the 4motion set-up prevents me from spinning. The change from gravel to grass is effortless and the suspension gets a workout as we hit the ruts and potholes. It handles them well with a mild bit of bouncing, but no bottoming out and it could probably get away with making the suspension a little harder.
The Amarok is quite nimble through the wood, although turning around at the end goes from a three-point turn to a seven-point turn, partly due to the vertically challenged driver not seeing the end of the bonnet. The parking cameras are good, but negotiating the woodland track sets the parking sensors into a hissy fit, so they get turned off. Traction is no issue through the wet wood but I do wonder how the road tyres will cope in winter time.
The Amarok is a more than capable pickup on and off-road. The only possible drawback is its size and possibly the price. It is aimed at the higher end of the market and comes with a high-end price tag. The basic Life spec starts off at £40,791. The Style version we’ve been playing with is £50,931 on the road. Admittedly it’s a Ford in VW clothing, but if you’re looking for a bit more comfort and refinement then the Amarok is a good choice. I might be inclined to choose the bigger version with the VW V6, which is only another £3,000.
Need to know
- Manufacturer Volkswagen
- Model Amarok
- Power 205ps, 500Nm of torque
- Top speed 112mph
- 0-62mph 10.5 seconds
- Emissions (g/km) CO2 229
- Economy 32.1mpg combined
- Towing weight 3,500kg braked
- Ground clearance 237mm
The only possible drawback is its size and possibly the price