You get the impression that Volkswagen customers are a loyal sort. Whether its fleets that keep coming back for Caddy vans or private buyers that can’t get enough of the Transporter, many tend to stick with the badge once they’re used to the product. 

In the past few years that will have been a problem for their pick-up truck buyers, because while the Amarok still has a sizeable following with plenty on the roads, it went off sale in 2019 and it’s only now that we’re getting its replacement.

It’s back where it left off though, with a gutsy V6 engine producing 237hp and no less than 600Nm of torque. The Amarok then is back with a bang. 

But it’s a bang that’s been provided by Ford, as unlike the previous Amarok, which was entirely a labour of VW’s love, the new model has been produced by Ford on a platform shared with the new Ranger. That means the Amarok gets the same 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel engine as the Ford, as well as the 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel already mentioned. That gives it power outputs of 168hp, 203hp and 237hp with a six-speed manual as standard or a ten-speed automatic available on the middle rating and as the only option on the V6. There’s also a low range transfer ‘box and the option of selectable or permanent four-wheel drive. 

Nearly everything else, the Amarok does differently to the Ranger. Or at least that’s what Volkswagen would like its customers to think. There are, of course, several similarities, most notably in the cabin with the 12in portrait touchscreen display, but Volkswagen has applied its own operating system to the interface and everything you look at in the Amarok is of VW’s own design. The only crossover parts are said to be the roof, wing mirror housings and the door handles, the rest has been painstakingly specified and agonised over by Volkswagen and with considerable success, as the Amarok neither looks like or feels like it’s a joint-developed product. 

It not only has its own design, which takes its cues from the squared-off wheel arches and high-waisted predecessor but there are unique ride and handling settings too. Of course, as it’s now based on the Ranger platform the dimensions and abilities of the Amarok have completely changed, but they’ve changed for the better. The Ranger is after all the market leader, and the Amarok has benefitted from the immense capabilities of the Ford. The approach and departure angles have both increased, with the latter improved by nearly 50% to 26°, while the ramp angle is up from 15.6° to 26° thanks to a significant increase in ground clearance. Available only as a double-cab in the UK, the Amarok stands at up to 1,884mm with a 237mm ground clearance and a new wading depth of 800mm (up from 500mm). It’s marginaly shorter than the old model and fractionally wider, but is essentially the same proportions with the all-important one-tonne payload capacity that ensures all models are VAT recoverable for businesses. It also has a 3.5-tonne towing capacity rather than 3.1 this time around. 

The Amaroks of old always tended to be more luxurious than its competitors and back when it was launched in 2010 there was definitely plenty of competition. However, with the departure of Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi and Nissan, there’s perhaps more of an audience to aim at which is why the Amarok will come with five trim options. There’s an entry-level model simply called Amarok with Life and Style trims adding more to the options. The big sellers, however, will be PanAmericana and Aventura which are focused on off-road and on-road respectively. Both are very well appointed and befitting of a truck like the Amarok which, despite having a utilitarian interior, is still a luxury product with high specification and high material quality.

The other VW attributes weaved into the new truck are more subtle, with lighter steering compared to your average pick-up and a softer, more SUV-like ride. That’s not to say it feels particularly car-like, the Amarok is obviously a hefty pick-up but it’s playing on VW brand characteristics that both existing and new customers will appreciate. It’s quiet, and comfortable to be in too, and 20 new driver assistance systems including Intelligent Speed Assist to keep on the right side of the law and Lane Assist to keep you in between the white lines. Off-road its business as usual, with six different driving modes and a limited slip differential to ensure that nothing phases this truck, even if you choose the optional 21-inch wheels.

The collaboration with Ford will yield all manner of positives and negatives for both brands as each of the new vehicles comes to market but the new Amarok is categorically a win for VW. They’ve acquired the market leading pick-up truck and successfully put their own stamp on it. The question will now be if the Amarok can take a slice out of the Ranger’s market dominance.

Volkswagen Amarok 3.0-litre V6

Price £44,000 (est)

Insurance group tbc

Warranty tbc

Service intervals tbc

Load length 1,624mm

Load width 1,227mm

Gross payload 1,190kg

Engine size/power 2,956cc/237hp

Combined fuel economy 34mpg (est)

CO2 tbc