It’s hard to believe, but the Volkswagen Amarok has been available since 2010 (an automatic transmission joined the range in 2012) and now there’s an upgraded 2017 Volkswagen Amarok V6.
The only real criticism the Volkswagen Amarok copped when it first landed back in 2010 was engine-related. Tradies, punters, Volkswagen fans desperate for an alternative to the current crop, existing dual-cab ute owners and off-road explorers all wondered whether a 2.0-litre, twin-turbo four-cylinder diesel engine would be too highly strung and too small in capacity to deal with the kind of abuse dual-cab ute owners love dishing out. The addition of an excellent eight-speed automatic, though, proved that a clever transmission can extract the best out of even a small capacity engine.
Anecdotally at least, the 2.0-litre engine seems to be taking care of business quite well, and it’s pertinent to remember the same engine also powers the T6 Transporter, for example – a pretty beefy people-mover within the Volkswagen fleet. In all our off-road testing, we’ve never felt that the small capacity four-pot was left wanting, such was the urge offered by the twin-turbo system and exceptional automatic gearbox
While the Amarok didn’t move the dual cab utility segment as far forward as some of us might have hoped, it did bring build quality, interior ergonomics, fit and finish and a car-like driving sense to a segment that previously had none of those factors. Dual-cab ute owners had been forced for years to cop sub-par interiors, loud, unrefined engines, cheap plastics and truck-like driving dynamics. The Amarok changed all that and suddenly the term ‘car-like’ entered dual-cab utility reviews.In turn, that forced the whole dual cab segment to step the game up. As you would have seen in our recent dual cab ute mega test, pretenders to the Amarok’s throne are many, with Ranger and BT-50 in particular, really lifting the all round dual-cab segment. Australia is an important Amarok market for Volkswagen too – we were the second biggest export market in both 2014 and 2015 behind Brazil, and Australia is currently ahead of Brazil for 2016. You’d like to think that means Australia would have some influence in how to equip the Amarok globally – although with the safety kit that’s continued to be omitted, we’re not so sure.
Now though, Volkswagen trumps the competition in powertrain terms, at least with a 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel engine that outsizes Mazda and Ford, which both use five-cylinder engines. Contrary to what we initially thought, the engine switch isn’t related to the perceived threat that comes in the form of the still in test-mule stage Mercedes-Benz dual cab. Rather, it’s the fact the existing 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine that powers the Amarok doesn’t meet Euro VI emissions standards.