A trip to a get a door checked out left us impressed by VW’s commercial vehicle service operation. James Dallas reports
Back in the 1980s in the UK Volkswagen highlighted one of the many virtues of its vehicles with the advertising slogan: “If only everything in life was as reliable as a Volkswagen” and over the years the manufacturer has gained a deserved reputation for the dependability and solidity of its product range.
So it came as something of a shock when we recently had cause to call into question the legendary build quality of the brand’s commercial vehicles just as our Amarok Highline was beginning to feel at home on our long term fleet.
Having clamboured out of the cab one morning we noticed the driver’s door was not sitting quite flush with the side of the van when we closed it.
Deciding a firmer touch was needed we tried again but the problem remained.
To be on the safe side we reckoned this called for a visit to the workshop and arranged to take the truck into Beadles Volkswagen in Dartford, Kent.
By operating a dedicated LCV network of about 100 sites nationwide, including full dealerships as well as authorised repairers, VW has an advantage compared to some of its competitors when it comes to offering a dedicated service to commercial vehicle customers.
We dropped our Amarok off in the morning and soon after lunch received a call saying it was ready to collect.
The door problem, which was covered under warranty, turned out to be nothing more serious than a loose driver’s door lock plate, which the workshop remedied by tightening to the correct torque.
While our Amarok was in the dealership, it also benefited from the free-of-charge 28-point visual health VW introduced across its CV network in August.
This involves technicians carrying out check’s on the vehicle’s main wear and tear items.
In the cabin warning lamps, interior lamps, horn, seatbelts, clutch and foot and handbrakes are given the once over and externally the bodywork, trim, glass, mirrors, lights, wipers and washers and lock operations are checked.
The workshop also ensures that fluid levels are correct and the battery in good condition.
The service also covers the vehicle’s underbody, taking in the steering operation, drive shaft, hoses and exhaust system as well as making sure there are no oil leaks.
Reassuringly, all the tyres on our pick-up, including the spare fitted to the underside of the load bed (a welcome feature not included as standard by all manufacturers) were given a clean bill of health too.
Generally our Amarok has settled in well, earning plaudits for its easy drivability and the fact that it is impressively maneuverable for such a large vehicle.
Much of this is down to the ultra-smooth eight speed automatic transmission, which takes a great deal of the strain out of negotiating tight urban routes.
Cabin comfort is also of a high standard with a firm yet supportive driver’s seat and a steering wheel that is adjustable for both height and reach. The fit and finish of our range-topping Highline is tasteful and understated, as is customary with the brand.
Curiously, however, for a vehicle that otherwise feels generously specced, there are no steering wheel-mounted controls for the six-speaker radio/cd player. The Highline does not offer DAB radio either, an omission you would certainly not expect in a top of the range car but one that is frustratingly common place in commercial vehicles.
There is a connection socket for an ipod but the lead needed to plug one in is not supplied.
The sat nav is easy to programme with touch-screen controls and has generally proved to be reliable and efficient. We did come unstuck, however, when, against our better judgment we decided to test the system on a journey from Slough, to the west of London, to Foots Cray, located to the south of the metropolis in north Kent, rather than sticking to a known route.
The result was a bizarre, irrational and extremely tedious odyssey through north and east London on a sweltering day, which eventually spat us out on the other side of the capital via the Blackwell Tunnel.
The climate control, luckily, worked a treat.