Volkswagen has upgraded its Amarok utility with the addition of a single cab and automatic transmission options, together with increased power. All features that are sure to expand the appeal of this popular vehicle to trade buyers.
Volkswagen Australia launched the first auto Amarok this week, opting not to use VW's own DSG transmission in favour of the eight-speed ZF torque converter box much more suited to off-road work than the harsher dual clutch transmission. The ZF option adds $3000 to the bottom line over the six speed manual variants.
Explore the 2012 Volkswagen Amarok range
At the same time Volkswagen launched a single cab range to bolster Amarok's dual cab, launched 18 months ago. All models are powered by 2.0-litre turbo-diesel or petrol engines with varying power and torque outputs.
Until now Amarok only came with a six-speed manual shifter, limiting sales for the non-workhorse or sports/leisure buyers. An eight-speed auto is a first for the segment, eclipsing the new Mazda BT50/Ford Ranger duo that offers a six speed auto. The new transmission adds to Amarok's braked towing ability with auto models able to haul 3000 kg, a figure that now applies across the range.
The ZF transmission has a crawler first gear, enabling it to rock hop like a traditional 4WD, tow heavy loads, as well as climb steep inclines – while eighth gear is an overdrive. This allows the 2.0-litre turbo-diesel to saunter along at 1800 rpm while cruising at 110 km/h giving excellent fuel consumption.
Even before the addition of the ZF auto transmission Amarok was the most refined of all the dual cabs, including the new – and highly capable – Ford Ranger/ Mazda BT50 duo. The option of the transmission and associated off-road technology takes Amarok to a new level, more SUV-like, and also has technical implications for the so-called soft-roaders with small four-cylinder engines.
At the same time Volkswagen upped both power and torque in the 2.0-litre bi-turbo-charged four cylinder engine from 120 kW to 132 kW. Torque for the auto shifter leaps to 420 Nm, while the manual variant remains at 400 Nm. Fuel consumption drops to 7.6 litres/100km.
Volkswagen uses the same 2.0 litre high-torque engines found in the Amarok dual cab range, the TSI300, TDI340 and TDI400. (These figures relate to torque output). Buyers can choose between rear wheel drive or 4MOTION AWD with low range in the TDI400 only. All have a six speed manual shifter. Recognising the workhorse role that single cab utes play Volkswagen offer a standard electronic differential lock plus on 4MOTION models a standard mechanical diff lock on the rear diff, while a rear diff lock is a $790 option on 2WD models.
The new single cab Amarok range completes the Amarok stable in Australia. The single cab utilises the same vehicle length and wheelbase as the dual cab Amarok, but the tray bed is 2205 mm long – 650 mm longer than the dual cab - and wide enough to load pallets. The tray can take two pallets loaded sideways and still has 60 centimetres spare length.
The load gap between the arches is 1.22 metres. The all-up total area is 3.57 cubic metres while there are six load-lashing rings fitted as standard. A Volkswagen Australia designed tray sells for around $2100 fully fitted by VW dealerships. There's also enough space behind the seats to store small luggage, lap tops etc.
The single cab has a heavy duty suspension able to carry a payload of between 1174 kg and 1394 kg depending on the model. Towing is rated at 3000 kg with 300 kg of downball weight. Across the Amarok range stability control and brake assist are standard.
The transmission has three modes, drive, sport and manual and is connected to Volkswagen's proven 4Motion AWD system. In manual AWD Amarok models the low-range transfer case remains for the 4Motion system.
The addition of an eight-speed ZF transmission to the Volkswagen Amarok utility could revolutionise modern thinking when it comes to commercial workhorse/recreational vehicles. Without the benefit of a heavy and costly transfer case with low range options, the new automatic Amarok made a mockery of the steep hill climbs – even without the assistance of the standard rear differential lock.
The Amarok off-road package includes a button that activates hill descent assist. This is also clever technology that allows the driver to select the hill assist speed required for the descent. We set the speed in various situations between as little as 3 km/h up to 30 km/h, just by feathering the brake pedal. It is a brilliant system for crawling down the steepest of inclines.
After three days of putting the Amarok auto through the ringer there is only one conclusion: Volkswagen's auto Amarok changes the goal posts for the commercial and recreational/sports utility segment.