First Drive: Volkswagen Amarok

Date: Monday, July 25, 2011

It’s been some time coming, but Volkswagen’s new pick-up has finally made it to the UK. We first sampled the truck in February last year, and the original September 2010 launch  since slid back to June.

We  sampled the entry version of the 163hp diesel engine, although for £1000 plus VAT less than this model, there will also be a 122hp version that kicks off the range. But this Startline specification is the lowest of three trim levels with the more powerful engine.
The cabin at least matches Nissan’s Navara and probably beats it as the top interior available in the pick-up sector. Fit, finish and cabin quality is at the usual VW?levels rather than the usual pick-up levels, even in this sober basic trim that goes without the neat aluminium flashes available on the Trendline and Highline. On the road, ride and refinement are par for the class as opposed to class-leading, even on the smaller wheels of the Startline model, although the steering and gearchange both have a good feel to them.
Off-road capability impresses, with the hill descent setting able to control speed down steep slopes even when the Amarok is in neutral. That means drivers can change up or down a gear without losing control of momentum if the gradient changes. The off-road setting also switches the ABS to mud-plugging mode and activates the hill-start control that holds the vehicle in place on slopes for two seconds.
Drop the Amarok’s substantial and heavy tailgate and the load bay beats any double-cab rivals for length and width, with a Euro pallet sliding in between the wheel arches.
The Amarok is an impressive piece of kit in any form, but it’s probably worth paying the £1000 to step up from this entry model to Trendline spec. VW has set out its trim levels so that it comes with dual-zone climate control, front centre armrest, cruise control, trip computer, leather trim to the cabin, body-coloured door mirrors and handles, and a full-size spare wheel all as standard. If possible, it’s worth the move up.


Amarok impresses now it’s finally made it to UK soil, but entry level version doesn’t offer the most value


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