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Volkswagen Amarok 4X4 auto review

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Chris Riley road tests and reviews the Volkswagen Amarok with specs, fuel economy and verdict.

Should the Toyota Hilux be looking over its shoulder at the Volkswagen Amarok? It's early days yet, and Toyota's Hilux utility continues to rule the roost in both the 4x2 and 4x4 utility segments.

But Volkswagen could have a thing or two say about that, with sales of its Amarok ute beginning to gain ground. Amarok is now available with an auto too which will make it even more attractive. It comes in 24 variations, which may sound like a lot -- but then Hilux is 35. Amarok is produced at the Pacheco plant near Buenos Aires, Argentina. The name, borrowed from the Inuit Indians of Northern Canada and Greenland, translates as ‘The Wolf’.

VALUE

Our test vehicle was the Amarok TDI420 Highline 4MOTION Dual Cab Ute. Priced from $53,490. Highline is the mid- range 4x4 model and features permanent all wheel drive, with comfort suspension that limits its off road ability. Our favourite goodies include the Bluetooth mobile phone connectivity, cruise control and a multi-function leather steering wheel.

TECHNOLOGY

A torsen differential automatically distributes power between the front and rear wheels, while an electronic differential lock stops wheel spin. It can tow a 3-tonne load and carry a payload of 1.2 tonnes. This one gets the new 2.0-litre 132kW twin turbo common rail direct injection four cylinder diesel that produces 420Nm of torque from 1500 revs. It's hooked up to a traditional 8-speed automatic transmission (yes, 8-speed) and delivers claimed fuel consumption of 8.3 litres/100km.

DESIGN

Not sure about the brown and charcoal interior colour scheme? You've got to remember to give the doors a good solid shove when leaving the vehicle or they don't close completely is annoying. No auto off for the lights, just a buzzer reminding you to turn them off. Highlights include a stainless steel sports bar and side steps.

DRIVING

It's big all right. 5254mm in dual cab form. But it's by no means the biggest dual cab out there. That particular honor goes to the recently enlarged Triton that comes in at 5389mm with a tub on the back. Being so long Amarok can be difficult to park, particularly if you return to the vehicle and find you haven't got enough room to get out again.

It's remarkably smooth and quiet inside for a diesel and with five stars for safety could conceivably double as a family vehicle. In fact, we suspect more people are buying this one as a recreational vehicle than as a work horse.

On the road we found throttle response laggy at times and the torque lock up even in eighth gear is enough to drive you nuts. In this respect sport mode was more responsive and user friendly, even if it probably chews through a little more fuel. Rated at 8.3 litres, the trip computer was showing 8.5 litres/100km after about 500km and it has an 80 litre tank.

VERDICT

It's the level of refinement that is most impressive. The Amarok is a step up from the competition in this department. No make that a whole flight of stairs.

Volkswagen Amarok

Price: from $53,490
Warranty: 3 years/unlimited km
Resale: N/A
Safety rating: N/A
Spare: Full-size
Engine: 2-litre 118kW/300Nm turbo diesel 132kW/420Nm 4WD
Body: 5254mm (L); 1954mm (w); 1834mm (h)
Weight: 2080kg
Thirst: 8.3 L/100km, 219g/km CO2

RIVALS

 

Nissan Navara D40 ST-X
Price: from $50,990
Engine: 2.5-litre, 4-cyl petrol, turbodiesel, 140kW/450Nm
Transmission: 6-speed manual or 5-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
Thirst: 8.5/100km (auto 9), CO2 224g/km (auto 238)

 

 

Nissan Navara - see other Nissan Nivara verdicts

 

 

 

Ford Ranger
Price: from $57,390
Engine: 3.2-litre, 5-cyl turbodiesel, 147kW/470Nm
Transmission: 6-speed manual or automatic, four-wheel drive
Thirst: 9.4l/100km (auto 9.6), CO2 238g/km (auto 256)

 

 

Ford Ranger - see other Ford Ranger verdicts

 

 

 

Toyota Hilux SR5
Price: from $53,490
Engine: 3-litre, 4-cyl twin-turbodiesel, 126kW/343Nm
Transmission: 4-speed manual, four-wheel drive
Thirst: 9.3l/100km, CO2 245g/km

 

 

Toyota Hilux - see other Toyota Hilux verdicts

 

 

Comments on this story

Displaying 3 of 5 comments

  • The Amarok automatic was not all that great!  In fact the Hilux automatic was as smooth and never glitch during my test driving. I am wary of VW as their spare parts even under warranty can result in a very long wait!  Ask some VW owners about ongoing problems.

    Greg Stanton of doncaster Posted on 12 April 2013 10:00pm
  • I’m tired of all these glowing reviews about these vehicle and there four wheel drive systems.  My choice overall the competitors is, Subaru.

    Robert Bocharski of Longwood, Fl Posted on 22 January 2013 12:56pm
  • are you aware that if a if the ECU in the Amarok faults you may have to wait up to four months for the part to be individually made in Germany.

    Roxie Taylor Posted on 16 January 2013 6:44pm
  • I agree completely. What is the point of a review if you don’t geet an out and out of which is the best to buy.  Too often the Car of the Year tag is not given for the best overall workhorse, or its usefulness, or even comfort but rather because it has these options and fits in with budgets for families. I have just read fabulous review on the Ford Ranger Wildtrak by someone who actually used it in test conditions. You guys need to start looking at reviewing in a similar vein.

    Keren Bell of Kilkivan Posted on 03 January 2013 10:17am
  • So is it too hard to actually get a few of these dual cab 4x4’s together and do a comparison test? You guys write glowing stuff about all these vehicles and never really tell us, the mug punters which one is best? Do I get an Amarok? Yes you say, then a few days later there’s a Nissan Navara test and you say buy that! And last month it was the turn of the Ranger!

    Come on guys a serious comparison, with a good bit of 4x4, a serious load in the back and then a reasonable lump hooked up to the tow bar. That’s what we want to see!

    Aquahead Posted on 25 October 2012 11:15am
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