Final report: VW Amarok Aventura long-term test

Date: Friday, November 24, 2017   |   Author: James Dallas

The aristocrat of the pick-up sector brought a touch of class and luxury to the What Van? fleet. James Dallas was sorry to see it go.

It was with a heavy heart that we bid farewell to our Amarok Aventura long-termer a few weeks ago.

It’s not often you come across a light commercial vehicle that delivers such an exhilarating driving experience once you clamber behind the wheel. Emotional appeal, after all, is supposed to be monopolised by hot hatches and sports cars while LCVs are all about no-thrills practicality, aren’t they?

Well, VW’s flagship pick-up truck goes some way towards rewriting the rule book.

With a 3.0-litre V6 TDI engine beneath the bonnet pumping out 224hp and with maximum torque of 550Nm kicking in at 2,750rpm the Amarok is not designed to live life in the slow lane – it has a top speed of 119mph and thunders from 0-60 in eight seconds. One of the principal joys of the eight-speed auto transmission installed in our truck is how smoothly and effortlessly it allowed such blistering performance to be delivered.

While the Amarok is also offered with a six-speed manual gearbox, VW reckons the auto accounts for four out of five sales. It is unashamedly targeted at the lifestyle market and, as such, is only available as a double-cab – those after a salt-of-the-earth workhorse pick-up are likely to look elsewhere.

The price tag may also prove prohibitive: the Aventura 224hp auto costs £31,995, excluding VAT. Until the Mercedes X-class comes along in 2018 this puts it in a fiscal league of its own. By way of comparison, the Nissan Navara Tekna 2.3 190hp Auto is priced £27,529 and Ford’s Ranger Wildtrak 3.2 200hp Auto is £27,491.

But this should not imply the Aventura is too posh to get mud under its tyres.

It may be hard to imagine it sloshing about in farmyards or clambering over bricks and piles of gravel on building sites, but it remains a robust truck that is more than capable off-road, with the automatic derivatives equipped with VW’s permanent all-wheel drive 4Motion system that’s capable of reaching the most inaccessible destinations. After all, the last thing all those surfers, cyclists, canoeists, ramblers, mountaineers and other assorted adventurers want is to be thwarted in their pursuit of leisure.

But the Amarok is also suited to more humdrum practical tasks and during its time on our fleet it assisted with two house moves – jobs facilitated by the addition of a £1,960 (ex-VAT) Truckman hardtop cover to protect household goods from the elements. A meaty payload of 1,114kg compares to the Navara Tekna Auto’s 1,054kg and the Ranger Wildtrak’s 1,003kg. A 3.1t towing limit, however, falls short of the 3.5t offered by the likes of the Isuzu D-max, Ford Ranger and Nissan Navara.

The Amarok has a loading height of 508mm – pretty much par for the course for a pick-up – and compares to the Toyota Hilux Invincible X Auto’s 480mm and the 511mm of the Ford Ranger Wildtrak Auto. A turning circle of 12.9m, however, is big – the Mitsubishi L200 can spin in 11.8m.

The materials inside the cab are of high quality, and when it comes to user-friendliness and functionality there is much to admire. The reversing camera and all-round parking sensors provide peace of mind when negotiating tight spots in cities and the Discover Media navigation system with incorporated Bluetooth connectivity is impressive. Pairing my iPhone with the system to allow hands-free conversation while on the move was a simple and
pain-free procedure.

VW does not try to cover all pick-up bases with its Amarok line-up, but what it attempts with the Aventura it achieves with distinction.

Volkswagen Amarok Adventure 3.0 V6 Automatic

Mileage     6,955
Official combined consumption     36.2mpg
Our average consumption     29.3mpg
Price (ex VAT)     £31,995
Price range (ex VAT)     £26,255-£31,995
Warranty     3yrs/100,000mls
Service intervals     18,000mls
Load length     1,555mm
Load width (min/max)     1,222/1,620mm
Gross payload     1,114kg
Engine size     2,967cc/224hp
CO2     204g/km
On sale     January 2017

Options (ex VAT): Truckman hardtop load cover (£1,960 ex VAT)

End-of-term report

Handling/Performance    5/5
Blistering acceleration is married to the consummately smooth eight-speed auto transmission. Relaxing to drive in town and a peerless motorway performer.

Fuel economy    2/5
The price for all that power is paid at the pumps.

Load carrying     4/5
The Amarok is not just a smooth lifestyle operator and proved itself to be a competent workhorse.

Manoeuvrability    4/5
Excellent handling characteristics and sensitive parking aids enable the big truck to belie its size in tight spots.

Interior    4/5
Everything is clearly laid out, robust, and easy to use, and comfort levels are high.

Customer service    4/5
Helpful staff and prompt and efficient service take the pain out of a visit to
the dealership.

OVERALL SCORE   77%

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