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Volkswagen Amarok


Holden Colorado

Summary

Volkswagen Amarok

They say good things come to those who wait, and perhaps this is the best demonstration of that truism… in the automotive world, that is.

Aussies have asked for it for years, and Volkswagen has finally delivered. Yep, the Amarok is available with a V6 engine and a manual gearbox!

Now, we all know the Amarok has made waves since it became available with a bent six, but that didn’t stop some people from asking, ‘What if it came with a clutch pedal?’

Years later, they don’t need to wonder anymore. Let’s get shifting.

Safety rating
Engine Type3.0L turbo
Fuel TypeDiesel
Fuel Efficiency9.7L/100km
Seating5 seats

Holden Colorado

The Holden Colorado range has just been updated for the 2020 model year, but to describe it as “new” might be something of a stretch. In fact, even “refreshed” might be over-selling it.

And that’s because mechanically, the Colorado is identical to the 2019 model. And the cabin tech is unchanged, too.

Instead, the brand has focused on upping the standard inclusions on some models, and welcoming the special-edition LSX (which began life as a special edition) as a permanent member of the Colorado family.

But is that enough to narrow the gap between the Colorado and its HiLux and Ranger rivals?

Safety rating
Engine Type2.8L turbo
Fuel TypeDiesel
Fuel Efficiency8.6L/100km
Seating2 seats

Verdict

Volkswagen Amarok7.5/10

Can you believe Australia is the only market in the world that gets access to the manual Amarok V6? Given how good the automatic version is, it should come as no surprise that the manual adheres to the same high standard.

Yes, the Amarok V6 is getting a little long in the tooth, and that means it falls well short on the safety and multimedia fronts, but it’s still the best drive in the ute segment. Needless to say, those Aussies that cried out for a manual version have been rewarded for their patience.

Is the manual Amarok V6 the best dual-cab pick-up on the market? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

 Note: CarsGuide attended this event as a guest of the manufacturer, with travel and meals provided.


Holden Colorado7.6/10

No news is still good news for the Colorado, which still drives well, carries a tonne and tows even more. It's undoubtedly starting to show its age in terms of modern safety tech, but it remains a strong contender in our booming ute segment.

Does this update get you excited about the 2020 model? Tell us in the comments below.

Note: CarsGuide attended this event as a guest of the manufacturer, with travel and meals provided.

Design

Volkswagen Amarok8/10

The Amarok might be nudging its 10th year in market, but it’s still a boxy but muscular looker, which is something you can’t say about many dual-cab pick-ups.

Picking the manual out from the Amarok V6 crowd is a little tough, though. Trainspotters will notice its 17-inch 'Posadas' alloy wheels, and let’s not forget its rims are shared with its automatic entry-level counterpart. Either way, that’s it.

Okay, there is more to it than just that. Buyers can add the no-cost 'Enduro' options package, which bundles in a bonnet protector, black side decals and a black sports bar. And why wouldn’t you tick that box? We would, if signwriting wasn't on the agenda.

Despite the drivetrain change, dimensions are the same as any Amarok V6, measuring 5254mm long (with a 3095mm wheelbase), 1954mm wide and 1834mm tall.

Inside, heavy-duty rubber floor coverings and hard-wearing cloth upholstery are giveaways you’re dealing with an entry-level Amarok V6, ready to work hard.


Holden Colorado7/10

While the design of the Colorado is almost entirely unchanged (the body work is mostly the same), the addition of the LSX as a permanent member of the family does up the Colorado’s tough-truck credentials.

The side-view especially - all alloys, sports bar and fender flares - does look both rugged and tough and despite the interior not quite living up the exterior hype, it’ll surely turn heads on the road. 

Speaking of the interior, it's a refreshingly comfortable place to spend time, and while some elements (the gear shift in automatic cars especially) feel a little utilitarian, there's enough soft-touch plastic and - in the more expensive trims - leather seating to lift the ambience beyond that of a workhorse.

Overall, though, I don't think it quite matches the toughness of the Ford Ranger, which is put down almost entirely to the front-on view. The Holden Colorado is handsome enough, sure, but lacks the mean-mugging stare of its fiercest rival.

Practicality

Volkswagen Amarok7/10

Indeed, the manual Amarok V6 is a rough and tough ute, so you won’t find much in the way of luxurious finishes. Granted, its steering wheel, gearshift and central armrest are trimmed in leather, but hard plastics abound for most other major touchpoints.

The cabin is well-designed, with plenty of space for loose items (see the cut-out in the middle of the dashboard and the cubby hole in front of the gearshift), and then there’s the more secure glove box and central storage bin, both of which are decently sized.

A pair of cupholders is predictably located between the front seats, while all four door bins are large enough to house drink bottles. There isn’t a flip-down rear armrest with cupholders in the second row, though.

Once a class leader, the multimedia system looks and feels old in 2020. It doesn’t help that it powers a 6.33-inch touchscreen, which is very small these days.

That said, you do get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support, so just plug and play. And you’ll want to because there’s no in-built satellite navigation here. Again, this is an entry-level Amarok V6.

The first row features a 12-volt power outlet, a USB port and an auxiliary input, while the second row misses out on all three.

Don’t expect a lot of legroom in the rear. Behind my 184cm driving position, my knees brush up against the front backrests (which have map pockets). That said, the Amarok V6’s width means there’s more than enough shoulder room, even with three adults abreast.

Three top tether and two ISOFIX anchorage points are on hand for installing child seats, making the Amarok V6 a viable option for parents, although the lack of rear air vents might prompt complaints from the smaller members of he family.

And being a dual cab pick-up, you can expect a large tub. In this instance, it measures 1555mm long, 1620mm wide (including 1222mm between the wheelarches, which is enough width to accommodate a standard Australian pallet) and 508mm tall.


Holden Colorado8/10

No mater how many words like “lifestyle” or “adventure” you throw at a ute, practicality is still the aim of the game in this segment. 

And on that front, the Colorado nails the brief, with every model in the range (bar one - a the LTZ+ - and that’s deliberate, with the lower number helping with novated leasing deals) able to carry 1000kg, with that number climbing to 1487kg in the LS auto 4X2.

Towing, too, ticks the right box, with the Colorado’s braked capacity a claimed 3500kg, thanks to the 2.8-litre diesel engine you’ll find under every single bonnet. 

The Colorado rides on the same wheelbase (3096mm) no matter which variant you aim for, but obviously your other dimensions will shift. The width runs from 1870mm to 1874mm, the height from 1781mm to 1800m, length from 5083mm to 5361mm and the tray length from 1484mm to 1790mm.

Price and features

Volkswagen Amarok7/10

Priced from $49,590, before on-road costs, the manual Amarok V6 appears pricey. But when you consider it’s the most affordable way into a V6 dual cab pick-up in this market, it starts to make a lot more sense.

In fact, all of its rivals in the same price range (Toyota HiLux, Ford Ranger, Mitsubishi Triton, et al) make do with four-cylinder engines that fall well short of it in the power and torque stakes, but more on that in the next section of this review.

The manual Amarok is only offered in one entry-level specification, dubbed Core. For the spend you get a part-time transfer case with low range, a rear mechanical differential lock, underbody protection, fender flares, ventilated disc brakes, mud flaps, power-adjustable side mirrors (with heating), power-operated windows, a full-size steel spare wheel and a matt-black rear step bumper.

Inside, a six-speaker sound system, a monochrome multi-function display and single-zone air-conditioning feature.

Auto headlights and rain-sensing wipers are extra-cost options alongside the six paintwork options: 'Candy White', 'Mojave Beige', 'Indium Grey', 'Reflex Silver', 'Starlight Blue' and 'Deep Black').

As you’d expect, there’s also a plethora of dealer-fit accessories available.


Holden Colorado8/10

Like most ute line-ups, the number of Colorados on offer here is pretty damn extensive. So take a deep breath as we dive in. 

The entry point to the line-up has changed, with Holden deleting the manual gearbox option on the cheapest LS 4x2 Single Cab Chassis, which now starts at $31,690 with an automatic gearbox. The LS 4x2 Crew Cab Chassis is $36,690, and the LS 4x2 Crew Cab Pick-Up is $38,190.

For that spend, the LS will deliver a 7.0-inch touchscreen with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, paired with a six-speaker stereo. You also get a leather-wrapped steering wheel and a USB charge point. Outside, you’ll find LED DRLs, powered body-colour mirrors, cloth seats and manual air-conditioning.

Next up is the LT 4x2 Crew Cab Pick-Up ($41,190 with an automatic gearbox) which adds 17-inch alloys, carpet flooring, a tailgate lock, fog lights and side steps.

Then it’s over to the LSX, which now joins the range as a permanent member, and which Holden describes as an entry-level tough truck, or “affordable tough”. That toughness arrivers via the 18-inch alloys, the gloss black front grille, the black sport bar and fender flares, and the Colorado sticker across the back. The LSX 4X4 Crew Cab Pick-Up is $46,990 in manual guise, and $49,190 with an automatic gearbox.

Next up is the LTZ, which is available as 4X2 Crew Cab Pick-Up with an automatic for $44,690, a 4X4 Space Cab Pick-Up for $51,190, or as a 4X4 Crew Cab Pick-Up ($50,490 for the manual, $52,690 for the automatic).

That trim earns you a bigger 8.0-inch touchscreen with standard nav and a better seven-speaker stereo, dual-zone climate control, push-button start and leather seats that are heated in the front. Outside, you get 18-inch alloys, Holden’s new DuraGuard spray-on tub-liner, power folding exterior mirrors, LED tail lights, rain-sensing wipers, a soft tonneau cover, side steps and an alloy sports bar.

Finally, there’s a Z71 4X4 Crew Cab Pick-Up, which is $54,990 (man) or $57,190 (auto), which earns you a soft-drop tailgate, 18-inch Arsenal Grey alloys, a new Sailplane sports bar and side rails, gloss black exterior door handles, mirrors and tailgate handle. You also get some style touches, like fender flares, a new front fascia, roof rails, hood decals and underbody protection.

Holden is also bundling its most popular accessories into new packs, called the Tradie Pack, the Black Pack, the Farmer Pack, the Rig Pack and the Xtreme Pack, with each of them coming with a voucher that reduces the cost of the Colorado itself.

Engine & trans

Volkswagen Amarok8/10

Just like many hoped, the ubiquitous 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6 engine remains under the Amarok’s bonnet but is now mated to a six-speed manual gearbox.

That said, the three-pedal set-up does have one key downside: a 50Nm loss in maximum torque. Indeed, the manual version produces 500Nm from 1250-3000rpm, instead of its automatic counterpart’s 550Nm from 1500-2500rpm.

And while peak power is shared, at 165kW, the manual develops it over a narrower band (3250-4500rpm versus 2500-4500rpm in the automatic), so there’s also that.

Either way, you get up to 180kW on overboost, which is available for 10 seconds when the accelerator is depressed beyond 70 per cent in third or fourth gear, making it ideal for highway overtaking.

So, when it comes to outright grunt, the manual Amarok V6 still blows the competition away, so there’s not much to be upset about here.

Maximum braked towing capacity is also down in the manual, at 3000kg, instead of the automatic’s 3500kg. That said, the former does have the biggest maximum payload of any Amarok V6, at 1004kg, which makes it a genuine one-tonner.

For reference, the manual Amarok V6’s maximum unbraked towing capacity is 750kg, while its towbar load limit is 300kg.


Holden Colorado7/10

Just the once choice here; a 2.8-litre Duramax turbo-diesel good for 147kW and 500Nm (or 440Nm with a manual) and can be paired with a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic gearbox, depending on the trim.

The option of a manual gearbox has been removed on some trims, most noticeably on the LS, which used to form the entry point to the range. Now, that car starts with an automatic, and costs $2200 more.

Fuel consumption

Volkswagen Amarok8/10

The manual Amarok V6’s claimed fuel consumption on the combined cycle test (ADR 81/02) is 9.7 litres per 100 kilometres, which is 0.7L/100km more than its automatic counterpart drinks.

During our launch drive, consisting mainly of highway driving and off-roading, we averaged a little less, at 9.4L/100km, but expect that figure to climb above 10.0L/100km in mixed usage.

 For reference, fuel tank capacity is 80 litres. There’s also a second tank that stores up to 13.0L of the required AdBlue.

Carbon dioxide emissions are claimed to be 254 grams per kilometre, meaning the manual chugs out 18g/km more CO2 than the auto.


Holden Colorado8/10

Holden claims combined fuel use of between 7.9 and 8.6 litres per hundred kilometres, depending on the vehicle setup, and whether it's two- or four-wheel drive. The Colorado’s C02 emissions are pegged at between 210 and 230g/km. 

All Colorados arrive with a 76-litre fuel tank.

Driving

Volkswagen Amarok9/10

When it comes to sheer driving pleasure, the Amarok V6 sets the standard for utes.

Part of that success is thanks to its previously exclusive automatic transmission, and at long last we’re happy to report its manual counterpart is just as good.

Sure, first gear is short, but the engine produces peak torque just above idle, so it’s easy to come off the line in second if you want/need to, especially when low-range is engaged. But more on off-roading in a moment.

Conversely, the throw is relatively short, which is nice, while the gate is surprisingly smooth – two key characteristics of a good manual transmission.

Even better, though, is the clutch, which is well-weighted. Indeed, in a world where most manual utes feel suitably agricultural, the Amarok V6 does its best impression of a sports car.

Naturally, the V6 helps matters by being the perfect dancing partner. You hardly notice the manual’s aforementioned torque deficit because there’s still so much to play with.

And a brief moment after maximum torque departs, peak power arrives and pushes you towards the redline. Yep, this is an engine that doesn’t really run out of puff.

Now, there’s much more to this Amarok V6’s story than just its manual gearbox. As mentioned, it also ushers in a transfer case that plays a key role in its part-time four-wheel drive system with low-range – a first for Volkswagen’s hardest-hitting ute.

Yep, if you want rear-wheel drive antics (and better fuel efficiency), they’re possible by leaving the manual in 2H. If you want unflappable AWD grip, switch it over to 4H by engaging neutral and pressing one button.

But if you need the capability of low-range to get you out of a sticky situation, press that button one more time and 4L arrives to save the day. And if that’s not enough, there’s still a rear mechanical differential lock on hand, as in the automatic.

Needless to say, our off-road expedition proved this set-up works really well. Again, a lot of this Amarok’s success can be put down to its mighty V6 engine, which serves up more than enough torque to get the job done. Capable, indeed.

But credit should also be sent the way of the 'Off Road' drive mode, which slackens off the ABS and ESP to make braking and accelerating more off-road-friendly, but only in 2H and 4H, of course.

The version of hill-descent control employed here is also brilliant, automatically engaging when tackling a steep decline, with its speed adjusted by the accelerator and brake pedals, instead of buttons on the steering wheel, which can feel unnatural.

Off- and on-road performance is helped by the Amarok V6’s hydraulic power steering, which is a brilliant throwback to the time before the electric revolution. As such, feel is one of its strong points.

The steering is weighty but not heavy, making it great in hand. That said, it is a tad hefty at low speed, and a 12.9m turning circle isn’t exactly tight, but we’re talking about a ute after all.

Suspension-wise, the Amarok V6 and its ladder-frame chassis have double wishbones up front and leaf springs at the rear, the latter dealing with an unladen tub better than you might think. Yep, there’s very little skittishness going on here.

Generally speaking, lumps and bumps are dealt with well on road, while the ride is just as settled off-road. This is a ute that doesn’t feel like a ute – and that’s a good thing.

Speaking of which, the way in which the manual Amarok V6 shifts its 2076kg frame is remarkable. Sure, it can’t defy physics, but it exudes relative composure when being pushed around a corner with intent.


Holden Colorado8/10

How does it drive? Ah, exactly the same as it used to.

Under the skin there are absolutely no changes for 2020. Same 2.8-litre Duramax diesel with a six-speed manual or a six-speed auto, same suspension, same steering. Short answer, it's the same.

But that’s not a bad thing. Holden’s local engineers had plenty of input in the Colorado when it was last majorly updated, including demanding it use the electronic power steering system taken from the Commodore program, and they're changes proved so successful, they have now been adopted by other markets.

The suspension was tuned here, too, and the final rubber-stamp approval testing was done in Australia.

The result is a vehicle that is pretty bloody good on our roads, if a little gruff-sounding in the cabin.

The steering inspires confidence, feeling direct enough for the segment, and more importantly, the Colorado enters corners in way that convinces you you're going to pop out the other side where you expect to, even at a fairly rapid clip.

It being Victoria, the weather for our drive program was predictably atrocious - with that sideways rain and bone-chilling cold the state is so famous for - and so Holden abandoned a more challenging 4WD section in favour of a rough muddy track lined with puddles big enough to double as water crossings and fallen trees that crunched under tyre as we climbed over them. 

And while there was nothing that would seriously challenge the Colorado, we can attest to it handling the rougher stuff as well as at it did, too, at least for cars with 4WD, where low range and Holden's DuraGrip LSD/traction control system arrive as standard.

The engine isn’t going to win any drag races, but that’s probably not the point. The 2.8-litre turbo-diesel always feels like there’s plenty of grunt on offer, but it never translates into actually speed. More a marathon than a sprint, then, but a performance ute this ain't.

The point is this. This 2020 update entirely on the look and equipment of the Colorado, so if you like the old one, then you’ll like this new one.

Safety

Volkswagen Amarok6/10

The Amarok range was awarded a five-star ANCAP safety rating way back in 2011, but a lot has changed in the nine years since.

For example, while you get dual front and front-side airbags, you don’t get curtain airbags for the second row, making rear occupants more vulnerable in crashes.

Then there’s the lack of advanced driver-assist systems, such as autonomous emergency braking, lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitoring and cross-traffic alert.

These active safety features can be had in many of the Amarok’s rivals, albeit to varying degrees.

You do, however, get cruise control (not adaptive), a reversing camera, rear parking sensors, hill-start assist and hill-descent control as well as the usual electronic stability and traction control systems, with the former even accounting for trailer sway.


Holden Colorado7/10

Holden's Colorado wears a five-star ANCAP rating right across the range, with the full-marks score awarded in 2016.

The safety story starts with seven airbags, rear sensors, a reversing camera and Hill Descent Control, along with the usual site of traction and braking aids, all of which are offered across the range. 

Spending big on the LTZ or Z71 unlocks extra kit, including front sensors, Forward Collision Alert (but not AEB - which is offered across the Ranger range) Lane Departure Warning and a tyre pressure monitoring system. 

Ownership

Volkswagen Amarok7/10

The Amarok range comes with Volkswagen’s five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty, which is on par with most of the mainstream brands. Some (we’re looking at you, Kia and SsangYong) up the ante to seven years.

One year of roadside assistance is also included with the ute.

Also on par are the service intervals, which are every 12 months or 15,000km, whichever comes first. What isn’t, though, is their cost.

Even with a five-year/75,000km capped-price servicing plan, the average charge per visit is $609. Needless to say, that’s pretty pricey.


Holden Colorado8/10

Holden offers a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty across the Colorado range, with servicing required every 12 months or 12,000kms. The brand’s capped-price servicing program is published on its website, and the first seven services (covering seven years) will cost you a total $3033.