The Volkswagen Amarok is a new player in the pickup market. Ian Shaw finds out if latest equates to greatest.
When the Amarok was introduced in 2010 it was seen as a new departure for Volkswagen. In truth VW had dipped its toe in this particular pond, albeit briefly, more than two decades previously. The Volkswagen Taro was merely a re-badged Toyota Hilux with which VW had a short flirtation, and then left the European market entirely to the Japanese. However VW's traditional LCV has always shadowed the sector. From its earliest days the Transporter was a dropside design and the third generation of rear-engined models, the T25, also added a four-wheel-drive option in the form of Syncro. Once the engine was moved to the other end of the vehicle and turned through 90 degrees the 4WD option was termed 4Motion, which despite encompassing three totally different all-wheel drive systems, has one umbrella nomenclature.
The Amarok uses two 4WD systems, a traditional part-time selectable transmission with low-ratio gearing for serous off-road work, similar to most Japanese pickups and a Permanent system devoid of low ratio but using a Torsen centre differential more akin to that of the larger Audi quattro models.
Main transmissions too come in two types a 6-speed manual with the off-road 4WD set-up or optional 8-speed automatic with the Permanent system.
From 2010, the engine range consisted of two 2.0-litre TDI units from the Transporter T5, the entry-level version of which produces 121 bhp whilst the bi-turbo version produces 161 bhp. From 2012 the 2.0-litre Bi-TDI with two turbochargers, was allied to the optional 8-speed ZF automatic transmission.
The ample figures for the engines are not matched by big figures at the other end. The double-cab Amarok offers a fairly small load bed at 1.55 by 1.62 metres although payloads vary from a decent 1145 kgs in lesser-equipped variants to an only-just Vat-reclaimable 1091 kgs in the luxury-spec examples. This is clearly Volkswagen’s pitch for the Amarok in the UK. A rival to the likes of the Mitsubishi L200 top-end versions such as the Barbarian, as a five-day workhorse and weekend car, rather than a bog-basic fleet tool. That's probably good news to most sole-trader What Van? readers, although it keeps re-sale prices high.
Although basic VW quality is here, fuel line problems have caused recalls and we have heard of many general build quality issues such as failed door locks, water ingress through cab windows and paint defects with early Argentinean-built Amarok's more so than later versions out of Hanover. Overall a decent 4WD truck, but Hilux and L200 offer more graft for your cash, if less sophistication.
The relative rarity and youthfulness of the Amarok is reflected in the high prices asked for used examples and no doubt VW's enviable quality reputation has a bearing too, not withstanding the recent fuel consumption scandals
A 2011 on a 61 plate with 68,000 miles it, is our starter here in Trendline trim with manual transmission at £15,000 +VAT. A slightly newer example, from 2012 on a 12 plate with 29,000 miles showing and in broadly the same specification comes in at £16,494 plus VAT.
Go upmarket a little and a 2012 with automatic gearbox and 77,000 miles,
in Highline trim, demands £17,499 ex-VAT, whilst a 2015 on a 64 plate with just 3,600 miles elapsed will cost you £20,995 + VAT. A top-end Highline trim, 2015 64 -plate automatic with 6,900 miles under its belt comes in a hefty £26,960 plus VAT.