Australians may be losing their appetite for conventional sedans, hatches and wagons, but our taste buds are buzzing when it comes to SUVs and light commercials.

So far in 2017, passenger car sales are down just over nine percent (year-on-year), while an ever-increasing variety of sport utility vehicles and tradie trucks is driving those segments ever upward.

Best-selling vehicle in the country? The once humble Toyota HiLux, with Ford's Ranger in hot pursuit; marking the evolution of the rough and tough ute into a vastly more refined proposition, serving as a work tool, family conveyance, and recreational vehicle.

While fording multiple streams the Amarok's 500mm wading depth wasn't seriously challenged. While fording multiple streams the Amarok's 500mm wading depth wasn't seriously challenged.

Volkswagen launched its Amarok (Inuit for Arctic Wolf, by the way) into this swelling pool in 2010, and despite numerous upgrades, including a V6 diesel option late last year, is still outsold five-to-one by the seemingly 'unbreakable' HiLux.

So, to build awareness and graphically demonstrate the qualities of its ute offering, Volkswagen is into its third year of staging the 'Spirit of Amarok', a drive event designed to bring owners of competitor vehicles, as well as a smattering of Amarok devotees together, with the aim of opening minds to the possibility of VW ute ownership, and driving positive word-of-mouth out in the real world.

Volkswagen's invitation to experience the specifically designed courses that underpin the event offered CarsGuide the perfect opportunity to test the mid-range Core model's abilities in a pure, and at times, distinctly challenging off-road environment.