by Huw Thomas
THE Amarok caused quite a stir in the pick‐up sector when launched here in May 2011. It went further than any of its established rivals in actually delivering on the much touted “car‐like driving and refinement” claim. Two 2.0 litre 4 cylinder Diesel engines were offered for this market: a TDI 138ps and a dual‐turbo Bi‐TDI 178ps. Double‐Cab only the (EU) range is pitched at the “premium” end of the market. Dealers will say the policy is not to “stack ‘em high, sell ‘em cheap” but to “preserve margin” (profit) and “maintain residuals” (2nd‐hand values). This might explain why the Amarok has remained 6th of the ‘Top 6’ in an admittedly difficult market to crack. A thoroughly revised (“New”) Amarok was revealed last May and came here earlier this year. Headline change was replacement of the 2.0‐litre engine with a 3.0 TDI V6 unit producing 204ps or 224ps with a 163ps variant due to arrive over the Summer. It bucks the current trend to downsize engine displacement. Toyota’s latest HiLux (here) offers a 2.4 Diesel (2.5/3.0 previously) as does Mitsubishi’s L200. Revised for 2017 Isuzu D‐Max (set to arrive April/May) goes further with a new 1.9‐litre motor. These are all 4‐cylinder units as is the 2.2‐litre mainstay of the topselling Ranger but Ford does offer a 3.2L 5‐cylinder powerplant to top off its model line‐up. Both 204ps and 224ps Amaroks initially come with an 8‐speed automatic gearbox and “4MOTION” permanent 4×4 drive. As before this is High Ratio only but a broad (class‐leading) spread of HR gearing, with Hill‐Hold and Hill‐Descent controls, do compensate to an extent for the absence of a transfer box and a Low Ratio set. The system offers manual override gear‐changing of course and “Off‐Road” does adapt “the electronics” (centred on its ABS anti‐lock braking) to the task in hand: Anti‐Slip (ASR); Electronic Diff‐Lock function (EDL); Stabilisation (ESP). On‐road the system extends to a Trailer Stabilisation function. Thankfully, a proper mechanical handbrake has been retained. A mechanical Diff‐Lock is £294 (incl VAT) extra. Mid‐year, when it arrives, the 163ps V6 Amarok will have a manual 6‐speed gearbox and rear‐wheel drive for on‐road use. As with the previous 2.0 range, it will however have selectable (‘HR’) 4‐wheel drive and, via a transfer box, a full set of low ratios. At the same time, this 6‐sp manual drivetrain will be offered too with the 204ps V6. Current model line‐up: ‘Trendline’ 204ps (£32,493 VAT included or £27,125 VAT excluded) and ‘Highline’ 204ps (£36,981 or £30,865) and 224ps (£37,581 or £31,365). ‘Startline’ entry model will resurface later this year as the cheapest 164ps variant. “Limited editions” will reappear. For the 2017 Amarok a 240 run of 224ps ‘Aventura’ launch variants was offered with a ‘Spec‐Pack’ including 19” alloys/extended wheel arches, bi‐xenon head‐lights, chrome sills/integrated lighting, SatNav/enhanced connectivity, front/rear parking sensors and reversing camera: £39,381 or £32,865. Startline should take the (VAT included) lowest asking price some way below £30k making the range look a little less expensive. “Rivals” can start at around £18,000 topping off at say £32‐33,000+. But, as a “premium offering” (for Europe at least) there are no single or extended cab 4×2 basic/utility “bargainbasement” Amaroks. Payload of 2.0‐litre models was 1,077kg to 1,165kg and now 1,114kg to 1,154kg. Maximum Braked Trailer Weight was 3,000kg (3,200‐auto); now 3,100kg for all. So, it seems VW’s surprising change of tack with the 2017 Amarok was not to “beat the competition’s numbers” but create a niche for it as a high‐performance, high‐quality pick‐up justifying a premium price. It might not have a 3.5t MBTW (e.g. Isuzu D‐Max) or ground‐breaking fully independent rear suspension (e.g. Nissan Navara) but it ticks all the “working vehicle” boxes while providing real “Q‐Car” performance. Facts & Figures: Aventura 224ps; 119mph; 0‐62mph 8 seconds; 36.2mpg (Official Combined); 24/25 on test; TripComputer 22/25 to 29/30 depending on driving/conditions; CO2 204g/km; Road Tax (TC39) £230; Insurance Group TBC.