VW’s refined pick-ups are making waves

THE new pick-ups that arrived in 2011/12 seem to have found their feet this year and are making waves, writes Huw Thomas. Star performer has been Isuzu’s D-Max which, having achieved fourth place in the top six for 2013 (pushing Ford’s Ranger into fifth), went on to take the third spot by the end of September. VW Amarok was sixth and stays there but has made progress albeit from a smaller and new-to-the-class base. It has two “limited editions” in the current market – Canyon and Dark Label – while a third, Ultimate, will be here shortly. They are being produced in limited runs of 300-350 vehicles. Priced “above par” between £26,125-£30,720 (excluding VAT), 6- speed manual 4MOTION selectable or 8-speed auto permanent again the powertrain choice. Asking prices for the three core models range from £20,925 (£25,054 incl VAT) to £27,530 (£32,980 incl VAT) so not a “pile ‘em high, sell ‘em cheap” tactic to shift slow-moving metal. The marketing deal here is the inclusion of options at no extra which, if specified on the standard model equivalent, would make it more expensive. Apart from the usual bodywork additions (shielding, load area bars; roller-shutter blinds, etc.) and cabin trim, main attractions are special alloy wheels (18”/19” alloys – black on the Dark Label and Ultimate) and Satellite Navigation. The Canyon (now sold out) was based on the 8-speed auto only and thus range-topping variant but its roof-mounted body-coloured light bar, e.g., was an extra £945/£1,134 (excl/incl VAT). A mechanical handbrake remains a feature of the Amarok and, with a manual ‘box, is the obvious “proper 4×4”. The 8-speed auto, however, has a broad spread of ratios and, with the Amarok’s standard Hill Hold/Hill Descent and Trailer Stability control, exudes ample competence under trying conditions. JEEP RENEGADE: Will offer an extensive 4×4 range when it arrives in February. Active Drive is a “permanent 4×4 system” apparently and Active Drive Low offers a first gear crawler ratio. The Trailhawk subrange (as with Cross/Cross plus above) will be the more dedicated 4×4 off-road capable variant with a “spec-sheet” to match. FIAT 500X CROSS. VW AMAROK CANYON. VW AMAROK DARK LABEL. On and off-road ABS/BAS brake assist, Traction Control and an Electronic Differential Lock are also Amarok assets. The auto’s most appealing trait is a relaxed and tall-geared on-road manner which, together with a range-topping interior, does earn the “car-like refinement” tag – on which the whole Amarok range majors, to be fair. Production moved to Hanover from a factory in Argentina in 2012 but, since then, supplies from that plant have resumed to supplement German assembly since European demand is there, it is said.

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