By Patrick James on 2016-12-02 - The author has been a motoring writer for more than 16 years. Formerly motoring editor at the Coventry Telegraph, he now produces motoring copy, on new car launches and road tests on a freelance basis.
2016 - Frist Drive
DESCRIBING Volkswagen's elegant new Amarok as a pick-up truck does not really do the vehicle justice.
Yes, it performs like the best of pick-ups, but adds a dash of style with a premium, upmarket feel, which also attracts a premium, upmarket price.
In its own way, it is a form of crossover vehicle, the double cab having the classy feel of VW cars with their comfort and driveability, combined with genuine off-road capability through its 4MOTION all-wheel drive, one-tonne plus carrying capacity and the capability of towing heavy trailers with ease.
That, in some ways, is the point of these new generation pick-ups. They are as much a lifestyle statement as workhorse. Capable of fulfilling both roles and looking equally impressive on the company car park, outside the school gates or transporting the surfboard to the beach.
First seen on UK roads, dirt tracks, forests and farmland in 2011, VW decided it was time for a bit of a revamp.
Trouble is, when you have what is a winning formula, the danger is spoiling it. You know, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
Well the German giant knows a thing or two about vehicles and how to extend and improve the life of established vehicles - see Passat, Golf, Polo et al.
So the firm went about making some minor and some major changes, including the new three litre V6 diesel power unit.
The already-stylish exterior has been tweaked with new front bumper and radiator grille design including front fog lights, new alloy wheels and a third brake light with LED technology.
Available at launch only and limited to 240 models is the Aventura edition tested here adds 19-inch alloy wheels with 255/55 wide tyres and arch extensions, bi-xenon headlights with integrated LED daytime running lights, and chrome sill bars with integrated LED lighting to illuminate the exit area. Tons of kit but with a price tag of just short of £40,000 if VAT is included.
Inside there has been a more comprehensive facelift. An all-new dash panel design incorporates Volkswagen's MIB infotainment system with touchscreen, radio, navigation and new technology including the option of Guide & Inform, Car-Net and App-Connect systems. Bluetooth and DAB digital radio are also now standard features.
There is plenty of room for five adults with masses of head and legroom. In addition there are cubby holes and storage bins for extra practicality.
If it was not for the sturdy plastic finish, really a necessity in this type of vehicle, rather than the soft touch trim finish, you could mistaken for thinking you were in an executive car.
While looking at it stylish lines and gleaming exterior, you might feel guilty for getting it dirty, but beneath all the glitz and comfort is a true workhorse.
It retains the previous Amarok's dimensions at 5.25m long, 2.23m wide and 1.83m high. Its load area means it can still accommodate a Euro pallet sideways and its payload ranges from 1,112 to 1,154 kg, with a gross vehicle weight from 3,080 to 3,290 kg. Importantly The Amarok comes as standard with four load lashing rings fitted in each corner of the cargo bed as standard.
So it can carry most loads of all shapes and sizes and the towing capability of 3,100kg braked and 750kg unbraked, means if there is an overflow of goods, you can stow and tow them in the trailer. The tow bar load is up to 140 kg.
The beating heart of the beast is the new, powerful diesel. It replaces the old two litre unit, with little effect on economy or CO2 emissions, while delivering loads of grunt and torque. The EU6-compliant unit is the only six-cylinder model in the segment and has three power outputs.
The range topper has 224ps and 550 Nm of torque channelled through its standard eight-speed automatic gearbox, giving a top speed of 119 mph and a 0 to 62 mph time of 8.0 seconds.There is a 204ps unit mated with the auto box which will also be available with a six speed manual box, as will a 165ps engine in 2017.
The fuel-saving BlueMotion Technology modifications includes a stop/start system and an energy recuperation system. Claimed economy is decent with 36.2mpg combined run and CO2 emissions of 204g/km.
It is hugely capable offroad and a tough, muddy, forest off-road route proved little problem as as the four-wheel drive hi-tech wizardry, descent control and hill hold dealt with tricky forest conditions with ease.
The model line-up coming through will be Startline, Trendline and Highline with other special editions allowing customers to customize to their heart's content. All three variants have an electronic differential lock (EDL) by automatic application of the brake, which prevents the wheels spinning on one side. Thanks to the EDL, the power from the drive system is always delivered to the wheel with the best traction.
All models have 4MOTION four-wheel drive and heavy duty suspension to cope with the heavy loads.
Despite its off-road and carrying capability, the VW is a remarkably refined vehicle on the road, where it is likely to spend a lot of its time.
The V6 purrs along and delivers hard acceleration when required, hitting 60mph in just eight seconds. Slow down again an the engine is barely audible on tickover.
The cab is remarkably quiet with less wind noise than a premium SUV is was driving, however the large tyres means road noise is quite intrusive.
The new Amarok prices start from £27,125 OTR excluding VAT. The total on road price for the Aventura model is £32,965 or £39,385 inclusive of VAT.
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