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Volkswagen Amarok V6 2017 review

2017 Volkswagen Amarok V6.

Daily driver score

4.1/5

Tradies score

4.1/5

Launched in 2010, the Amarok has earned wide industry acclaim yet has failed to put a dent in the sales dominance of the Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger in the hotly contested 4x4 dual cab ute category.

Perhaps realising the twin-turbo 2.0 litre four cylinder diesel it was launched with was considered too small to pass the pub test, VW decided it would muscle up and demand  a seat at the bar.

The Wolfsburg marque has added a new variant with a mighty 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel, which brings not only two extra cylinders and more cubes, but class-leading outputs of 165kW and 550Nm.

With this power-packed engine option, Volkswagen has ensured the Amarok now has a 'hero' model with  enough muscle to out-flex Toyota and Ford in the turbo-diesel arm-wrestling stakes.

Is there anything interesting about its design?

The Amarok V6, like its four-cylinder siblings, rides on a 3095mm wheelbase, which is longer than HiLux but shorter than Ranger. Its 5254mm overall length is shorter than both rivals but its 1954mm width is substantially wider, resulting in a chunky, broad-shouldered stance.

Beneath the fully galvanised body is a robust ladder-frame chassis with twin A-arm independent front suspension, traditional leaf-spring live rear axle, four-wheel disc brakes and power-assisted rack and pinion steering. The Ultimate also gets a chromed rear bumper, side-steps and twin-tube sports bar plus 19 x 8-inch alloy wheels wrapped in 255/55 R19 general purpose tyres, with a full size alloy spare. A 20 x 8-inch wheel and tyre option is also available.

Its 5254mm overall length is shorter than both rivals but its 1954mm width is substantially wider, resulting in a chunky, broad-shouldered stance. Its 5254mm overall length is shorter than both rivals but its 1954mm width is substantially wider, resulting in a chunky, broad-shouldered stance.

For off road use there's substantial underbody protection, 192mm of ground clearance, a 28-degree approach angle, 23.6 degree departure angle, 23 degree ramp-over angle and ramp and side-tilt angles of up to 45 degrees. The only downside is a comparatively shallow 500mm wading depth, with the air intake not so cleverly hidden behind the right headlight.

The Ultimate's cabin and dashboard layout have a premium look and feel with the luxurious scent of leather and a steering wheel with adjustable tilt and reach. Our only gripe is the excessive number of entry-level blanks on the console where you'd expect to see working switches in such a top-shelf model (if they're not in this car, where are they?). The new 'ErgoComfort' heated front seats offer 14-way electric adjustment of cushion height, angle and lumbar support, along with excellent lateral support. These seats really do set a new benchmark in ute comfort.

Rear passengers - particularly tall ones - don't enjoy the same luxuries, with tighter rear door access and limited knee and head room, along with a very upright seating position. However, the higher 'grandstand' seating does provide good forward vision for those in the back.

The Amarok V6, like its four-cylinder siblings, rides on a 3095mm wheelbase, which is longer than HiLux but shorter than Ranger. The Amarok V6, like its four-cylinder siblings, rides on a 3095mm wheelbase, which is longer than HiLux but shorter than Ranger.

How practical is the space inside?

The switch to six cylinders has brought extra kilowatts but also extra kilograms. The V6 Ultimate's 2216kg kerb weight is 122kg heavier than the TDI420 Ultimate's 2094kg, but with such big increases in power and torque you don't really notice the extra bulk from behind the wheel.

Where you do notice it, though, is in the V6's GVM (gross vehicle mass) of 3080kgs. This allows for a payload of 864kg, which is 82kg less than its four-cylinder sibling. And the V6's maximum braked tow rating of 3000kg is also no higher than the four's.

The V6’s theoretical GCM (gross combined mass) is an impressive 6000kg but according to the owner’s manual in “hot or extremely hot” countries (including Australia) its GCM is no greater than the TDI 420’s 5550kg.

In other words, if you want to tow the maximum 3000kg of braked trailer you’ll have to reduce the V6’s payload by 530kg to keep within the GCM, leaving only 334kg to play with including the tow-ball download. Something to think about if you regularly need to tow 3.0 tonnes.

We forklifted 650kg into the cargo bed which, with a two-man crew, equalled just over 800kg, or about 60kg less than its maximum payload. We forklifted 650kg into the cargo bed which, with a two-man crew, equalled just over 800kg, or about 60kg less than its maximum payload.

The cargo bed with spray-in protective liner is 1555mm long and 1620mm wide, with 1222mm between the wheel arches, which means it can carry a standard 1160mm x 1160mm Aussie pallet if need be. It's also equipped with four sturdy D-shackles as tie-down points, a 12-volt socket and cargo-area lighting.

Cabin-storage options include a bottle holder and storage pocket in each front door plus storage pockets in each rear door, centre console front storage nook, lidded box and two more bottle/cup holders, indented dash-top storage tray, a single glovebox and two more bottle/cup holders in the centre of the rear floor.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

The V6 now tops the expansive Amarok dual cab ute range and is available only with automatic transmission and in two model grades: entry-level Highline and top-spec Ultimate.

Our test vehicle was the Ultimate which, at $67,990, is the highest priced Amarok to date and Australia's most expensive dual cab styleside ute. It's loaded with heaps of luxury and tech, of course, but at a much higher price than Toyota's premium HiLux SR5 auto ($55,900) and Ford's wildly popular Ranger Wildtrak auto ($61,590).

Our Ultimate Amarok is a Wolfsburger with the lot, including dual-zone climate, leather appointments, a 6.3-inch colour touchscreen display that's central to a multi-media interface (with steering-wheel controls) including sat nav, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, MirrorLink, DAB+ digital radio and Bluetooth, plus a driver's premium colour multi-function display, four 12-volt sockets, and lots more.

VW has also added revised front-end styling plus a new instrument panel, dynamic safety features and superb ergonomic front seats that would not look out of place in one of the many six-figure prestige cars that lurk with the VW Group.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

The Euro 5-compliant 3.0-litre, 90-degree, common rail V6 turbo-diesel has a proven pedigree having also powered luxury SUVs in the VW group including the Porsche Cayenne and Audi Q7.

It generates 165kW across a broad 2000rpm power band from 2500-4500rpm and its benchmark 550Nm of torque is tapped from 1500-2500rpm. These figures represent a 25 per cent (31kW)  increase in power and a 31 per cent (130Nm) increase in torque over the TDI420's 2.0 litre twin-turbo four.  The V6's variable vane turbo also unleashes extra boost at throttle openings of more than 70 per cent in third and fourth gears, increasing power to 180kW and torque to 580Nm for durations of up to 10 seconds.

The Amarok V6 is a lively performer that belies its two tonne-plus kerb weight.

The refined eight-speed automatic is also unmatched in this segment with a manual shift option via the stick shifter or steering-wheel paddles. A low 4.714 first gear serves as a useful 17.4:1 crawler gear off-road while the overdriven seventh and eighth cogs provide excellent fuel economy at highway speeds. The spread of eight close ratios also ensure it's in the optimum gear at all times.

The 4MOTION single-range permanent all-wheel-drive system uses a torque-sensing or 'Torsen' electronically controlled centre differential for maximum traction in off-road use. It provides not only a constant 40:60 torque split between the front and rear axles but also applies braking force to spinning wheels while delivering power to other wheels with the most grip.

Three buttons on the console also allow you to switch off the bitumen-biased stability control, engage a mechanical rear diff lock if required, or activate an off-road mode which optimises anti-lock braking/stability control/hill-descent control/transmission-shift protocols.

How much fuel does it consume?

VW claims a combined average of 7.8 litres/100km and at the completion of our road test the big V6 was showing 9.7L/100km on the dashboard display. That was impressively close to our own figures, based on actual trip meter and fuel bowser readings of 9.96L/100km.

What's it like to drive?

The Amarok V6 is a lively performer that belies its two tonne-plus kerb weight. With 550Nm on tap from just 1500rpm, it gets off the mark very smartly with a neck-straining surge all the way to the legal limit in less than eight seconds, which is seriously quick for this much metal. The turbo's over-boost is also  a great safety feature when overtaking on two-lane highways.

With its wide track and permanent all-wheel drive the Amarok V6 inspires confidence, with predictable and sure-footed handling on all road surfaces, with and without loads. The power-assisted rack and pinion steering is well weighted and direct without being over-sensitive and the big four wheel disc brakes provide reassuringly strong braking.

With the cruise control on. It all feels more luxury sedan than ute-like.

We forklifted 650kg into the cargo bed which, with a two-man crew, equalled just over 800kg, or about 60kg less than its maximum payload. Under this weight the front suspension dropped 8mm while the rear leaf springs compressed a full 65mm, displaying its long and supple rear wheel travel.

The big V6 barely noticed this load as it powered up our 2km-long, 14 per-cent gradient set climb at 2000rpm in fifth gear with minimal throttle. Engine braking on the way down was equally impressive, restraining its hefty three-tonne GVM at 60km/h and 3600rpm in third gear without once having to touch the brake pedal.

It also proved to be a comfortable highway cruiser, especially for ergonomically spoilt front-seat passengers, with conversations taking place at library levels thanks to negligible wind and tyre noise and the engine's ability to tool along at just 1750rpm at 100km/h, with the cruise control on. It all feels more luxury sedan than ute-like.

The 4MOTION permanent all-wheel drive also means you can literally drive straight off the bitumen and into the rough stuff without having to push a button or flick a switch. And if you need back-up, the rear diff lock and off-road driving mode are only the press of a button away.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

Although the four-cylinder Amarok has a five-star ANCAP crash rating, the V6 version is yet to be tested. Even so, it boasts an impressive armoury of active-safety features, headlined by VW's award-winning multi-collision braking system plus roll-over prevention, brake pressure distribution (important for load luggers), trailer sway stability control (only with genuine towbar wiring kit) and more. There's also a rear view camera and audible/visual parking aids but it does miss out on auto emergency braking (AEB), blind spot detection and collision alert.

Passive safety includes driver and front passenger airbags and side (head and thorax) airbags. The rear seat has three headrests, three lap-sash belts and three top tether child seat anchorage points plus ISOFIX points on the two outer seats. However, rear passengers continue to be denied any airbag protection, which is a glaring omission.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?

Three years/unlimited kilometre warranty with the option of a two-year extended warranty (five years in total).

Six year/unlimited kilometre body-corrosion warranty. Complimentary 24/7 Roadside Assist for duration of new-vehicle warranty. Service intervals of 12 months/15,000km. Capped price of $470 per scheduled service for three years/45,000km.

If we had to use one word to describe the Amarok V6 Ultimate it would be 'refinement' because its exceptional NVH standards, comfort, handling and performance exude engineering integrity that feels like the whole vehicle has been machined from a single block of steel. It has its faults, of course, but they are few and it now has class-leading grunt. In other words, a premium ute at a premium price.

Would the Amarok V6 get your nod as a work ute? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

$47,850 - $64,990

Based on 21 car listings in the last 6 months

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

Daily driver score

4.1/5

Tradies score

4.1/5
Price Guide

$47,850 - $64,990

Based on 21 car listings in the last 6 months