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We would like to say a very big thank you to the team at Gazley VW Wellington (35-41 Kent Terrace) for allowing us use of the new VW Amarok for our review and test drive. Drop in anytime to see them and to check out their complete range of new and used VW’s.

 INTRO.

Dynamically sharp with a hunger to work, the latest from Volkswagens commercial line brings technology to today’s utility vehicle. Having bluetooth connectivity, rich surround audio, and clean designer control consoles is a more accepted normality in the rough working environments of New Zealand’s farms and construction sites. Volkswagen presented their very first pick up truck, the Amarok in 2009 which has since picked up an array of awards, such as the “Off Road Car Of The Year” from 4×4 OFF ROAD Germany for three consecutive years (2011-2013). The Amarok Double Cab has been available in NZ since 2011 and has seen strong support from buyers “opting to have a dual use Utility like the Amarok as their vehicle of choice” says Grant Doull, General Manager of Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles NZ. I had the pleasure of taking the 2013 Amarok Highline with a carload of passengers, dog plus gear out to experience both muddy farm tracks and a substantial drive over the Rimutaka Hill. I can understand why this working truck has become the first choice for so many individuals and companies alike.

 

DRIVING.

Amarok, Inuit for wolf. Driving through the farm, we cruised easily over rain swept muddy banks and boulder stricken slopes. I could feel the 4-motion kick in at times trying to compensate for the changing terrain under tyre, at times I felt as though it was more the computer walking us down the hill rather than me. Something that I’m not sure I feel totally comfortable with yet.  Not having a low range gearbox is another new feature the automatic HighLine model comes with. VW believe that the extremely low gearing of the 8 speed auto is enough reason to save weight and remove the low range box altogether, whether or not this will be a benefit in terms of durability and reliability in the long run, only time will tell. The computer aided traction control limiting the slip in each wheel was very noticeable, helping me test the articulation and managing traction even with a wheel or two off the ground. Driving over undulating paddocks in the wet can mean slippery grass and some sidelings proved too much for the non aggressive road tyres. Swapping them out for all-terrains would solve this problem instantly. And if you wanted to get more adventurous, some mud tyres would help get the Amarok almost anywhere, limited only to how brave the driver is. While being overly confident and capable off the road, the Amarok is also capable of high speed and agility at the spur of a moment on the tarmac. There are two choices of engine you can choose from, the 2.0 L TDI diesel engine that delivers 340nM of torque, or for $8,000 more choose the powerful 2.0L Twin Turbo TDI engine that gives up 420nM of torque. The Amarok captures all this power with its 8 speed automatic transmission coupled with its permanent 4 Motion all-wheel drive. The super low first gear in this area is great for towing trailers and the high 8th gear is more of an over drive for cruising at speeds and improving fuel useage. Whilst being very responsive for overtaking and climbing the hills, the only downside I could find with the small but efficient 2L engine is the lack of engine compression when engine braking. This is an important ability for a ute for towing and not putting pressure on the brakes. Sadly I didn’t have the opportunity to test this. Take on the tough terrain and city streets with reassurance that the 5 star ANCAP rated Amarok is equipped with numerous safety and driver assistance systems, including dual front airbags, side bags with head protection, Electronic Differential Lock (EDL) and an optional Rear Differential Lock (RDL).

 

Around town it is easy to see the traffic either side of you, the generous side mirrors really made the Amarok more maneuverable, by minimising the guess work that often comes with driving big utes. It also has parking sensors and a digital display of the Amarok in relation to nearby objects. These may be factors in winning over your wife in the argument of “its too big darling” if you want to use it as your daily driver. She may also like the ‘RCD 310’ sound system with six loudspeakers and the ‘Climatronic’ two-zone automatic air conditioning system.

The Amarok is your work ute with comforts, because its no fun when it’s all work and no play. It’s capability was a pleasant surprise, handling the muddy farm tracks in road tyres with ease. Ideally, as a dual use vehicle the Amarok would benefit from having at least All Terrain tyres to further enhance its dual capability for both on and off road use.

INTERIOR.

VW have continued their trend of highly refined form following function ideals for their interior. The soft touch plastics moulded around hard edged shapes bring out the durable and robustness needed for a work vehicle but making it comfortable at the same time. Simple layout of the central control cluster provides only the essentials without all the cluttering or compactness found in more gadget savvy cars. I found all of this to be easy to locate, reach and use. The large surfaces make it easy to clean, with not too many place for dirt to get trapped. Lighting was adequate with front and centre roof hubs plus an external work light to illuminate the tray at night. There is clever placement of 12V jacks around cab and tray, the best being in the dashboard centre tray conveniently located for the window mounted GPS or phone. The well refined interior compliments the tough ruggedness of the exterior of this vehicle, mimicking modern lines and forms. Spacious in both front and rear seats with plenty of head room, enough for you and your hard hat if needed. You can seat 5 people, including the tall gangly folks into this vehicle comfortably. There was ample head and leg space in both front and rear. Thanks to the contoured front seats that curves in where your rear passengers knees would usually go, you won’t get knees poking in your back from your rear passenger.

WHAT IT’S UP AGAINST.

Brand / ModelEnginePowerTray Size/ PayloadFuel EconomyPrice
Isuzu D-Max LS Crew Cab Sports Auto3.0-litre Turbo Diesel130kw / 380Nm1,104 Litres/ 1010kg8.1L/100km$56,990
Mitsubishi Triton Utility 4WD Double Cab GL2.5-litre Turbo Diesel133kw / 356Nm1,655 Litres/ 1,155kg8.1L/100km$46,490
VW Amarok TDI Dbl Cab 4Motion Highline2.0-litre Twin Turbo Diesel132kw / 420Nm1,077 Litres/ 882kg8.3L/100km$64,990
Great Wall V200 Utility2.0-litre Turbo Diesel105kw / 310Nm1,077 Litres/1,000kg8.3L/100km$27,990
Holden Colorado LTZ Crew Cab Sports Auto2.8-litre Turbo Diesel132kw / 440Nm1,060 Litres/ 1,047kg9.1L/100km$61,900
Mazda BT-50 Limited Dbl Cab3.2-litre Turbo Diesel147kw / 470Nm1,214 Litres/ 1,095kg9.2L/100km$62,395
Ford Ranger XL Dbl Cab Sports Auto3.2-litre Turbo Diesel147kw / 470Nm1,234 Litres/ 1,142kg9.2L/100km$56,440
Toyota Hilux 4WD Double Cab SR53.0-litre Turbo Diesel126kw / 343Nm1,036 Litres/ 1,100kg9.3L/100km$61,980

 

PROS.CONS.
  • Great fuel economy
  • Spacious throughout the interior
  • Modern safety and electronics standard across all models
  • Capable 4-motion drive
  • Impeccable crash safety, 5 start ancap
  • Recovery/tow points not installed
  • Needs more tie down points in rear tray
  • Driving light controls very basic, especially since the rest of the vehicle was advanced in a lot of ways. Adding a simple night sensor would improve this.
  • Lack of lumbar support in drivers seat

WHAT WE THINK.

Practical in every way. Whether you need it to be a work vehicle or the family car, the Amarok delivers. Make the best of all aspects in your working life, with the capacity to carry all the gear, the dog, family and their things. No need to worry about getting the back in a mess, or driving through a mess. The whole thing just hoses down clean again. Volkswagen have continued in raising the level and expectations of what a working utility vehicle needs to provide. A combination of strong outward styling on top of a durable rugged chassis, encompassing  sleek interior. If you can afford the higher pricing of the Amarok you will not be disappointed.

RATING – AutoClique Chevron rating 4 out of 5

Chevron_4out5

SPECS:

2013 Amarok TDI Dbl Cab 4 Motion

Vehicle Type:4wd diesel Double Cab Ute
Starting price:$61,990 NZD + ORC
Engine:Twin Turbo Diesel, 2.0L, 132kW/420Nm
Transmission:8 speed automatic
Curb Weight:3,040kg
Length x Width x Height:5254 x 1954 x 1834
Cargo Capacity:1968L
Fuel Tank:80L
Fuel:8.3 L/100km, 219g/km CO2

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Filthy tidiness is probably how I would describe my passion for anything with a motor. I enjoy the perfection, purposefulness, and thought put into the design and assembly of cars....but I do love to see them been thrashed and covered in brake dust, dirt and blood. You gotta use it to love it in my books.

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