Amarok, a big Tonka toy for big boys who like banging things in with big tools. It has 4 doors, 5 seats and a big tray. It feels almost indestructible, and it is.
Every now and then we get an email from a tradie asking what we think would be a great investment for his business and I usually say “whichever you like driving”. The base model VW is just the ticket for tradies who don’t want anything fancy. Most of the gadgets are absent but there is a decent sound system and a great range of engines. VW claim the interior is that of a top SUV but that’s probably a bit of a stretch, and the base model’s driver’s seat desperately needs lumbar support. There is little support for the lower back and a longer trip might need a stop-off at the chiropractor. The cabin is neat and well designed, but basic. Most of the little luxuries we now expect as standard are only available in the top model. It should be law to have a camera on all vehicles, but especially those that conceal a small army when the driver is reversing. Only the top model scores auto headlights and wipers and they are two systems on which I’ve come to heavily rely.
There is no doubt the cabin is that of a commercial vehicle but you’re still kept cool with fabulously efficient air and an audio system that doesn’t disgrace itself, even in the base models. It’s a pov model sure, but by no means are you slumming it.
There are many bins for knick-knacks and the several of the cup holders are bottle-sized. Like the bottle holders, the cabin feels huge, as indeed it is. The load area is also an enormous 2.52 sq m but if you want load area more than cabin area, the 2-seater single cab has 3.57 sq m. You can shove an awful stuff in a space that big. For those who fancy themselves as Bear Grylls wannbes, there are the off-road gadgets making camping available in those hard to get to spots. Frankly I’d rather be in a comfy bed with champers and nibbles on call than having hard things sticking in my back and insects biting my nether regions.
Surprisingly, the ride is good courtesy of a big set of leaf springs in the back. Even more surprisingly, the chassis is one of those old fashioned ladder jobbies, so you’re probably asking why. The answer is a simple one, strength. A solid ladder can carry far more weight than the ubiquitous monocoque chassis most passenger vehicles now use. The latter spreads the load throughout the skin of the vehicle whereas the ladder carries the stresses in the Amarok. Please don’t think you can whip around tight corners sports-style, because you’ll wind up in a ditch. It is none-the-less a very capable drive. The upper models have permanent 4-motion 4-wheel drive but the range has a variation of 2 and 4 wheel drive types just to confuse you.
There are 3 variants, trendline, highline and Ultimate. Leather and satnav are only found in the top of the range and for that you’ll pay a princely $61,490 plus on-roads. If you want change-em-yourself gears, you can knock 3 grand off that but frankly why would you.
The engine fitted to our test car was the new TDI420 common rail bi-turbo. It develops 132kw which doesn’t sound like much, but has a massive 420Nm of torque and all of this from a 2.0L engine. Diesel engines are used in commercial vehicles for just this reason. Depending on your industry you might also have a tax-payer funded rebate for your fuel, and why not. There are several other engines in the range and they are listed below.
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I was surprised to find VW hadn’t included a reversing camera in the standard package. In a normal parking spot, the Amarok takes the entire length and most of the width. It isn’t difficult to manoeuvre but you do have to keep your wits about you. I always keep in mind the bare-chested hunks normally who normally drive such vehicles have no troubles at all. This mindset helps prevent making a dill of yourself. I managed to avoid hitting anything proving driving a large commercial ute is no harder than a sporty hatch if you pay attention. The standard reversing sensors go some way to making up for the camera oversight.
The drive isn’t as industrial as you might expect. Yes it is a huge vehicle, but the DSG and nippy engine makes all but the heaviest work a doddle. I’m not sure I’d want to drive a huge distance, but a few hours behind the wheel is a fairly nice place to be.
The Amorok is a good looking, award winning ute with many uses too numerous to name here.
Would I buy one? Yes, but I’d sort the driver’s seat with a cushion for the small of my back, or buy the top model.
Price: $24,490 – $36,990 (for the single cab)
$30,490 – $61,490 (for the dual cab)