► Amarok gets V6 diesel power
► Good to drive and well equipped
► Aventura version costs £40k
You’d have to be a bit of a Volkswagen Amarok anorak to tell this facelifted model apart from the old pickup – but there’s no getting away from what’s been shoehorned into the engine bay.
Is it a petrol V8, like that in the Vauxhall Maloo?
Not exactly – it’s ostensibly the 3.0-litre diesel V6 from an Audi A6 (stay with us) that’s offered in three different outputs, including this mind-boggling 221bhp version. It actually has a further 19bhp available on overboost, activated when the accelerator pedal goes past 70 percent of its maximum travel.
Of more interest is the fact that this version has all of its torque – 406lb ft of it – on offer from 1400rpm. As a result, the 0-62mph sprint takes 8.0sec and strong acceleration is always a mere ankle-flex away.
You don’t even need the eight-speed automatic gearbox to drop a cog or two, either – spot a derestricted speed limit on the edge of town and the Amarok’s engine will happily and promptly haul you up to 60mph in fifth or sixth gear.
Tell me more about those styling changes…
The Amarok already does well – 14,800 have sold since launch in 2011 and 2015 was its most successful year. It offers a rare blend of car-like cabin and road manners, with off-road ability and a loadbay big enough to carry a Euro pallet. If you don’t know what a Euro pallet is, don’t worry, your kayak will still go in the back.
So, it’s understandable that Volkswagen has chosen to only make some small-scale improvements – including a new front bumper and grille, a third rear brake light, and a revamped dashboard – rather than a massive overhaul.
There’s more tech, too; inside you’ll find a new infotainment system, featuring a larger 6.3-inch touchscreen with sat-nav, smartphone connectivity, and Car Net – an online service that delivers news, traffic and fuel prices.
Great. Can I still go mountain biking in it?
In terms of practicality the Amarok is unchanged – the 4Motion system remains and offers permanent four-wheel drive with automatic models, and a selectable system for manuals.
There’s an off-road mode and electronic differential lock to help find traction in slippy conditions, and if you’re a disaster-prepper, there’s also an optional mechanical diff lock for hardcore offroading.
In either instance, you can scale steep inclines – up to 45 degrees – thanks to clearance angles of 29 degrees at the front and 24 degrees at the rear. Piloted clumsily around a technically tricky and tight off-road course, we were impressed by how not-stuck the Amarok remained.
Around the back you get the 2.52 square metre cargo bay (1.55 metres long by 1.62 metres wide) with a lashing ring in each corner to tie down your wakeboard. A gross vehicle weight of 3290kg grants a payload of 1114kg on this model, plus a towing capacity of 3100kg.
Inside the Amarok you’ll find three 12-volt sockets (plus one in the cargo area) and four deep door pockets big enough for large bottles of water (or Lucozade Sport), plus a large storage bin under the padded central armrest.
Is there a special launch edition with loads of kit?
Yes – it’s called the Aventura (which sounds a bit like adventurer and will impress your friends if they wear those trousers that zip-off at the knee) and it costs £39,381 on the road, including VAT.
It comes with a long list of kit, including a DAB radio, 6.3-inch media system with sat-nav, Bi-Xenon headlights, parking sensors, air-con, cruise control, hill start and descent control, 19-inch alloys, ‘Ravenna Blue’ metallic paint, 19-inch alloys and leather trim.
Normal models are called Trendline and Highline, and there’s an entry-spec coming in 2017 called Startline – which features a lower power output and a manual gearbox.
The ‘only-car-you-need’ label is thrown around a lot but this VW Amarok makes a genuine case for itself – it’s comfortable, fast, drives well and has a massive boot that you can fill with wetsuits and scuba equipment.
A near-£40,000 bottom line sounds pricey for a workhorse but there isn’t much that offers this combination of luxury and pragmatism this side of a more expensive SUV.
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