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Volkswagen Amarok Core V6 2019 review

The big V6 makes for a satisfying driving experience.

The stars of the ute world used to be the no-frills workhorses, but all of a sudden it's the good-looking ones that are getting all the attention while the quiet achievers get overlooked. 

Enter, then, the Volkswagen Amarok 2019 Core V6. Priced at $49,990, it's a fit-for-purpose ute (the cheapest of the V6 range) that has gone largely unnoticed by buyers drawn to the more popular (and expensive) Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger models.

The Volkswagen Amarok 2019 Core V6 is priced at $49,990. The Volkswagen Amarok 2019 Core V6 is priced at $49,990.

So, could there be more to this base model dual-cab than meets the eye? And how will it perform in the role of family taxi? My kids and I had the weekend to find out.

Saturday

Our Schedule for the day started with soccer in the morning, some shopping, and then ferrying the kids to birthday parties in the afternoon.

The Amarok's styling is no-frills. The Amarok's styling is no-frills.

The Amarok's styling is no-frills, and it presents a rather modest profile that remains unchanged from the previous model. Given the Amarok's reputation as a rather premium ute, the Core stands out for its less-trendy approach to design.

On closer inspection I noted the four ‘V6’ badges adorning the front, rear and sides, and two rather daggy 'Turbo Diesel V6' stickers on the back-quarter panels. The badging might be overkill, but as I would soon find out, it's also the Core’s most compelling attribute. More on that later.

There are four ‘V6’ badges adorning the front, rear and sides. There are four ‘V6’ badges adorning the front, rear and sides.

Hopping up into the cabin is relatively easy and, as always, the kids were excited about experiencing a high-riding ute for the weekend.

The bare-bones styling follows through to a cabin decorated with hard-wearing materials everywhere you look - from the heavy-duty rubber floor mats to the hard plastic used across the doors and dash trim. Sturdy, durable and kid-proof, then.

Space in the rear was ample for my three kids, but somewhat tighter when I was back there, with limited knee room when sitting behind my driver's seat (I’m 180cm).

Space in the rear was ample for my three kids. Space in the rear was ample for my three kids.

The cloth seats back there weren’t particularly comfortable either – fine for short hops around the 'burbs, but not so great for extended periods. Conversely, the front seats are somewhere you’d be happier to spend time in providing comfort and support in all the right places. 

Impressively, Volkswagen haven’t skimped on the fit out, and the Core features the same leather-trimmed steering wheel, switch gear and driver instrumentation you would find on its higher priced siblings.

The Core features the same leather-trimmed steering wheel. The Core features the same leather-trimmed steering wheel.

There’s a good amount of storage throughout the cabin - including a bottle holder and storage bin in the base of each front door, plus a shallow storage tray set into the centre dash-pad. The centre console has a small open bin at the front and two cup holders in the centre but there are none in the back.

A thoughtful storage touch is the 60/40-split rear seat base cushion which can swing up and secured in a vertical position to increase the internal carrying space.

There’s a good amount of storage throughout the cabin. There’s a good amount of storage throughout the cabin.

The tray of our test vehicle was fitted with four tie-down points (standard) and a full tub-liner which is a worthwhile consideration for any hard-working ute. Those needing to carry large loads will be happy to know the Core can swallow a standard 1165mm-square Aussie pallet.

Sunday

The Core V6 was on light family taxi duties, starting with a trip to the city in the morning, followed by a visit to the local park and various friends' places in the afternoon.   

As the exterior badging would suggest, the headline for this ute is its exceptional 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6 pumping out 550Nm of torque and 165kW of power. Matched with a refined eight-speed automatic, it must surely be up there with the best ute power plants on offer.

The headline for this ute is its exceptional 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6 engine. The headline for this ute is its exceptional 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6 engine.

From a standing start the Core V6 gets away with plenty of force under foot, with the turbo kicking things up another notch at 2500rpm. It’s two-tonne-plus weight is propelled forward with remarkable ease, providing plenty of confidence for overtaking or quick acceleration from almost any speed. Acceleration up hills is particularly pleasing, with a deep well of power to call on.  

The eight-speed automatic is a quality unit that provides smooth and intuitive gear changes at all driving speeds. Combined with the well-weighted, power-assisted steering it makes for a pleasurable and rewarding drive around town.

All this grunt translates into some impressive pulling power, with the Core V6 rated to tow up to 3500kg of braked trailer with a 6000kg GCM.

With only myself, the three kids and an empty tray, the ride was firm. With only myself, the three kids and an empty tray, the ride was firm.

Around the suburbs with only myself, the three kids and an empty tray, the ride was firm, and I suspect it would benefit from some additional weight in the back. There was good stability around corners care of the 4Motion all-wheel-drive system, which provided plenty of confidence.  

The four-cylinder diesel version of the Amarok earned the maximum five-star ANCAP rating back in 2011, but the V6 version we tested has no offical rating. Standard safety kit includes driver and front passenger airbags and side (head and thorax) airbags, reversing camera and rear parking sensors - though AEB is a glaring omission.

Standard safety kit includes driver and front passenger airbags and side (head and thorax) airbags. Standard safety kit includes driver and front passenger airbags and side (head and thorax) airbags.

Disappointingly, rear-seat passengers have no curtain airbag protection. But there are three top-tether child seat anchorage points, plus two ISOFIX fittings.

There’s also an electronic stability menu including trailer sway control, but only if you opt for the genuine VW tow-bar wiring kit.

After 400km of weekend driving with three kids in tow the trip computer displayed a fuel consumption reading of 9.0 litres/100km, which was bang-on with VW’s claimed combined figure.


The Wrap

Over the weekend our Core V6 proved itself a worthy family hauling workhorse. Its practical and durable cabin is both kid- and tradie-proof, while the big V6 makes for a satisfying driving experience. It's lack of safety kit is the Core's biggest drawback, something buyers with kids should consider carefully.   

Likes

Grunt from V6
Cabin fit out for a base model
Value for money

Dislikes

Firm ride
Lack of safety kit
Back seat space

Scores

Dan:

3.9

The Kids:

3.8

$52,590

Based on new car retail price

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