Volkswagen’s Amarok marked a return to the purpose-built pick-up sector for the brand after a long absence during which rival manufacturers such as Mitsubishi, Nissan, Isuzu, Toyota and Ford established strong market positions. VW previously produced a pick-up version of its Caddy from 1982 to 1992 and ran the Taro, a re-badged Toyota Hilux, from 1989 until 1997.

The Amarok is available in the UK as a 4×4, four-door, five-seater double-cab with either selectable or permanent four-wheel drive. It comes in three trim levels – Startline, Trendline and Highline – while a single-cab version available abroad but VW UK is hesitant bout the size of the UK single-cab market.

Power comes courtesy of the 2.0-litre TDI common-rail direct- injection diesel now being installed in all of VW’s light commercials, with either 122hp (single turbo) or 180hp (twin turbo) on tap. The more powerful of these engines replaced a 163hp powertrain in October last year when VW shifted production of European market-bound Amaroks from Argentina to its hometown of Hanover in Germany.

At the same time the manufacturer also introduced eight-speed automatic transmission on the flagship Highline specification with Bluemotion technology and permanent 4Motion all-wheel drive, and ramped up the towing capacity from 2800kg to 3200kg. The eight-speed auto ‘box is unique in the sector and we elected to take a Highline model equipped with the system onto our long-term fleet.

Cabin comfort is not in short supply across the Amarok range but Highline customers are particularly pampered with leather upholstery supplementing the leather-trimmed steering wheel, gear knob and handbrake lever found on the mid-spec Trendline.

Storage provisions include bins in all the doors with mouldings to hold a can of drink. A decent-sized lidded bin that can swallow half a dozen CDs sits between the front seats just behind a couple of cup holders. There’s a cubby hole underneath the dashboard and three 12V power points while storage drawers under the front seats, a sunglasses holder, lockable glovebox and vanity mirrors in both sun visors also add to comfort and convenience.

The driver’s seat is height- adjustable and finding the ideal driving position is further eased by a steering column that is both height- and reach-adjustable. Both front seats are heated.

All three rear seats get headrests and lap and diagonal safety belts. The rear bench seat cushion can be folded up and strapped into position to create extra load space and rear privacy glass conceals the contents from prying eyes.

Cruise control and front and rear parking sensors come as standard, and we also opted for the touch screen satnav CD/radio system with aux-in socket, Bluetooth and SD card slot that is available for £565, excluding VAT.

To our truck’s open-backed load box we have had fitted a body- coloured polycarbonate hardtop with gas-lift rear window, fold-out passenger side window and dual driver’s side sliding window. This costs £1945, excluding VAT. The cargo bay contains four lashing rings to secure loads and is accessed via a heavy-duty tailgate that opens horizontally but cannot drop down completely due to the obstacle presented by a large chrome bumper with an integrated step. The load floor and walls on our Highline had also received a £485 (excl. VAT) protective coating designed to withstand chemical damage.

Economy is helped along by stop/start and regenerative braking while an extensive safety feature list includes ESP, off-road ABS, hill-hold assist and trailer stability control.

So, there’s plenty to get our teeth into and report back on over the coming months.