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Volkswagen Amarok (2011) Review

Written By: admin on September 11, 2011 59 Comments

In what must be one of the biggest gaffs in the history of commercial vehicles, Volkswagen has let Toyota, Mitsubishi, Nissan and Ford happily dominate the big pick-up class without challenge for the last 20 years. Not anymore, the Amorak is here and out to steal back sales from the established foursome. Five years in the making, the huge 5.2m long pick-up is not a rush job. It might be based on an unsophisticated ladder frame chassis and boast ancient rear leaf spring suspension but the VW boasts a state-of-the-art anti-skid control that actually helps in the dirt. The Amarok has also been designed from the ground up to be the safest in the segment and, indeed, all models come with four airbags and ESP as standard. Controversially, VW has taken a huge marketing risk with the engine line-up. Instead of a manly-sounding 2.5- or 3.0-litre diesel engine there is a measly-sounding 2.0-litre, but thanks to not one but two turbos it produces either 120- or 161bhp and averages 37mpg depending on version and there is a huge choice of options available and even a two-wheel-drive version. VW has even made a softly sprung version for the lifestyle brigade. So the Amarok is robust, safe and surprisingly efficient, but is it any good? Read on to find out if we think it’s the best in its working class.

Behind the Wheel

Volkswagen hasn’t quite gone as far as creating a premium pick-up. Evidence the odd bit of hard cheap-feeling plastic for that, but considering that this car has been designed, developed and built to work for its living, the Amarok shames some of its downmarket rivals in terms of cabin quality. Note the instrument binnacle that looks as though it has been plucked from a premium saloon. There’s none of the body creaks, groans and rattles some commercial vehicles suffer.

On the Road

Off road the Amorak is excellent, on road it is merely par for the pick-up class. This means lifestylers beware. Those considering the huge VW (that dwarfs a Touareg) as a 4×4 substitute should think very carefully. Beside a passenger car the Amarok driving experience is imprecise. The steering, for example, is vague, while the gearshift slow and clunky while body lean verges on the excessive beside a modern SUV. Grip levels are also significantly lower. That said, compared to the rest of the pick-up class only the Mitsubishi L200 drives better. So far, we’ve only driven the more powerful 161bhp 2.0-litre diesel. It is a little unrefined and coarse but hauls the Amorak to 62mph in 11.2 seconds and onto 111mph. It occasionally feels anaemic but once the second of the two turbos has kicked in it’s more than up to the task. Volkswagen is already working on boosting the Amorak’s towing ability from 2.8 tonnes to its competitors more useful 3.0+ tonnes.



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