New VW Amarok Aventura
Amarok key details
- Available in UK: December/January
- 3-litre V6 turbo diesels
- Price on road: ‘Mid-to-high £20,000s’
What is it?
As of late this year, new VW Amarok Aventura – the next generation of double cab, go-anywhere, one tonne payload, two- or four-wheel-drive pick-up that’s our Business Van Awards Best Pick-up of 2016 – will better live up to its name.
Amarok is the Inuit word for wolf, and when the new version starts reaching the UK’s farmers, SME and other business and leisure users in December, it will have a whole lot more bite than its forebear, launched in 2010 and which took VW into the sector for the first time.
- While much of the pick-up world outside North America gravitates towards smaller capacity, four-cylinder engines, VW has chosen to oust the current Amarok’s most powerful, two-litre, four-cylinder 180bhp turbodiesel in favour of a thumping EU6-conforming, three litre turbocharged diesel V6. In the most powerful of the new engine’s three available specifications it has 45 more horsepower and a full 550Nm of torque.
- On the road, and scrabbling up and down precipitous quarry tracks during a day’s test drive near Munich, the extra meatiness of the Amarok’s performance delivery is immediately apparent – but with more the character of bull in china shop than sinuous wolf. Using its flood of torque to the full, it can also hustle on-highway to 62mph in 7.9 seconds and go on to 120mph, although hardly advisable if Shaun the sheep is loose in the load bed without goggles. The 3-litre version also has a market-leading braked towing weight of 3.5 tonnes.
- Not tested by Business Vans, but also to become available some months after the initial launch, will be two lower-powered versions of the V6 for less arduous conditions.
- The mid-range version has 204bhp, the least powerful 163bhp. Either VW’s smooth-changing 4Motion eight-speed automatic transmission – with optional steering column change paddles – or six-speed manual can be chosen for the two higher-powered models, although the 163bhp version must settle for the manual ‘box only.
- There are three drive system options: rear-wheel only, 4MOTION with its rear wheel drive but optionally additionally–engaged front axle combined with six-speed manual gearbox; or 4MOTION with permanent 4wd and Torsen differential with the eight-speed auto. All three have an electronic differential lock , allowing power always to be delivered to the wheel with best traction.
- Drivetrain apart, the majority of the update comprises a new look, thanks to changes to bumper and grille resulting in a more VW family ‘face’, and a new eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system adding CarNET and App Connect facilities.
- Not much: As ever, finding your way around the satnav and other IT systems can be time-consuming but they seemed mercifully free of the foibles which can dog some manufacturers’ infotainment systems.
- There’s also a somewhat gloomy, funereal atmosphere to the interior but the heavily-revised dashboard layout is smart and functional.
Verdict on the New VW Amarok Aventura
As might be expected, the Amarok has been given almost unrestricted access to VW group’s technological warehouse. Hill start, hill descent, off-road ABS and optional mechanical differential lock combine to provide formidable capabilities.
More than enough torque is available from little more than tickover for the Amarok to amble its way up gradients where those unfamiliar with off-roading might fear a backwards flipover. Equally, its intelligent hill descent system handles its tasks with as much aplomb as any of its main rivals such as Ford’s Ranger, Mitsubishi’s L200 or Nissan’s Navarra.
A winning recipe
- See why the current Amarok was judged Best Pick-up in the Business Van Awards 2016
Apart from the obvious absence of covered boot space – unless optional detachable hardtop or sliding deck cover are specified – there is not much in the way of compromise required of five occupants compared with a car. Seating is comfortable, head and legroom adequate for all but the tallest and the ride perfectly acceptable, in terms of noise and bump absorption, on even rippled tarmac surface.
There’s no question that build quality is a forte, the Amarok displaying no hint of flex or rattle during its off-roading. Its refined, car-like progress on-highway also gives credence to VW’s insistence that an SME executive or senior manager in the construction business could happily go from site visit to theatreland – maybe via the car wash – without fear of embarrassment.
Order books will open at VWS’s 98 UK Van Centres in late September, with the units reaching customers in December or January. The Amarok can be serviced by VW’s entire dealer network. Its maximum payload is just over the one-tonne mark, thus all versions are categorised as N sector commercial vehicles when it comes to taxation and VAT reclamation.
Targeting premium buyers
Availability will start with a range-topping “Highline” edition. Prices and full range specifications have yet to be set for the UK but Mark Haddon, VW UK’s commercial vehicle product marketing manager, says pricing will not be “radically different” from the mid- to high- £20,000s of the current range. That’s high by the standards of what Haddon acknowledges to be a heavily price-driven sector – a factor on which Ford, in particular, has been able to capitalise to reach its market-leading 25% share of sector sales.
VW has a UK share of around 9%, with around 4,000 of the sector’s typical 45,000 annual sales. He expects some growth but not a major sales surge from the new model because “we’ve always sold at the top end of the sector price-wise because of the premium nature of our product. It’s new entrants we’ve got to look out for, including Mercedes coming into the market over the next 12-18 months . They’ve already said they’ll be going after the Amarok.”
The low down:
|On the road price (ex VAT):||“Mid-to-high £20,000s”|
|Payload:||One tonne-plus, depending on version|
|Towing capacity braked/unbraked:||Up to 3.5t braked/750kg unbraked|
|Engine:||3-litre V6 turbodiesel|