Volkswagen Magazine

Amarok

Amarok V6
raises the bar.

The Amarok already has power and torque in spades,

but a new engine takes the vehicle to the next level.

Words Martin Ross

Could there have been a more appropriate place to launch Volkswagen’s new Amarok V6 ute than in Canberra, the seat of the nation’s power? The capital played host to the reveal of the Amarok V6, a revamped benchmark in the light commercial vehicle (LCV) segment that provides the driver with their very own seat of power.

Updating the Amarok may well have kept Volkswagen’s engineers awake at night, haunted by the prospect of improving on an already excellent model. But they can sleep easy. Volkswagen has added extra grunt to the new Amarok V6, but it has done so while still retaining the vehicle’s trademark refinement and ride comfort.

Setting the Amarok V6 apart from others in its class is Volkswagen’s impressive 3.0-litre V6 TDI engine. As the only ‘Ute’ to offer a V6 turbo-diesel, this latest Amarok is a genuinely original product. The turbo-diesel engine serves with distinction in the engine bay of prestige passenger cars elsewhere in the Volkswagen family and takes its place alongside the two existing 2.0-litre four-cylinder engines in the Amarok model line-up.

The new engine works with the Amarok’s all-wheel-drive system and eight-speed automatic gearbox to deliver 165kW and 550Nm, substantial increases on the already-potent 132kW and 4200Nm currently available in the existing TDI420 variant and well ahead of other players in the market segment.

For those with a mind for mechanical detail, it’s a 90-degree 24-valve product with a variable geometry turbo. That means it mitigates turbo lag, the hesitation felt when first pressing the accelerator in some turbocharged vehicles.The official government fuel test figure – mandated by those in the nearby Parliament House – of 7.8 litres per 100km is well within reach in real-world driving conditions.

Given we drifted into double digits on the Amarok’s trip computer – and that can happen when putting a vehicle through heavy-duty off-road work during a test like this – there’s every chance it could come close to its claimed thirst during daily use.

Big boost

The Amarok V6’s reassuring drivetrain puts it well ahead of its current competition, but there’s a cherry on top to carry it just that bit further than the rest. When demanded by the driver, the engine management system can deploy a 10-second burst of additional power. This ‘overboost’ function is obviously ideal for situations in which overtaking or merging is required, but it just as easily exists to cause a sly grin to spread on the driver’s face.

The additional 15kW provided by the overboost function is available when more than 70 per cent throttle is used by the driver. It’s of particular benefit when travelling at speeds of between 50km/h and 120km/h. The Amarok V6, for example, will make short work of a sluggish SUV towing a caravan, taking just 5.5 seconds to get from 80km/h to 120km/h. And Volkswagen’s claimed time of 7.9 seconds for the 0–100km/h sprint is enough to embarrass a swift passenger car from any other German brand.

On the road

As the Amarok V6 slips gently into Canberra‘s morning peak hour, it’s clear how little noise there is coming from the engine bay or from external sources. Any targets Volkswagen has aimed for in terms of refinement and cabin noise must surely have been met or even exceeded. Effortless acceleration is on offer even without the overboost coming into play. Gentle accelerator pressure and minimal engine revolutions are enough to deliver a strong surge forward.

The Amarok V6 feels sturdy and sure-footed as we sweep along the main roads skirting Lake Burley Griffin. I have an opportunity to assess the enhanced cabin, which, with its broad, sweeping dashboard and myriad functions and features not often seen in commercial vehicles, is closer to that of a passenger vehicle than ever before.

It’s not within Volkswagen’s DNA to make changes for the sake of it, so all the hallmarks of the Amarok remain ostensibly unaltered. That means the cargo bay, most important for those looking to toil and take tools with them, remains as capacious as ever. The ute tray is still the only one able to swallow a pallet loaded with cargo – and that’s nothing to sneeze at.

Lighting for the rear cargo bay is another feature not commonly seen on vehicles in the segment, as is the provision of a 12-volt outlet for charging vital equipment.Safety features now include tyre-pressure monitoring and multi-collision braking system, in addition to four airbags, reversing camera, and parking sensors front and rear.

The presence of wildlife on the bush-bound roads so close to the suburbs of the ACT offers a chance to test the four-wheel disc brake system. Interestingly enough, the Amarok V6 offers four-wheel disc brakes as standard and has the largest brakes in its class.

The update to the Amarok V6 has also brought about a change in the gross combined mass to give the Amarok even more scope for heavy-duty towing tasks such as those involving towing aquatic or equestrian trailers. Rising to six tonnes, with the braked towing capacity remaining at three tonnes, the vehicle has broad shoulders for large loads.

Off-road spurt

Leaving the highway behind and taking the turn onto twisting roads, it’s clear the surge from low engine revolutions means there’s little need for the Amarok V6’s Sport mode or to manually change gears using the paddle shifters. Steep rocky trails, creek crossings and winding forest trails offer little in the way of a challenge, leaving passengers relaxed and able to take in the sweeping views south of Canberra.

Spearing off the bitumen and onto the rougher unsealed tracks of the Bullen Range Nature Reserve, the ambience of the cabin remains unruffled as the Off-road mode is selected, tailoring the electronic traction control systems to maintain the vehicle’s forward progress.

The Amarok V6 returns to the sealed road just around the corner from the CSIRO Tidbinbilla Deep Space Communication Complex, one of three NASA deep space network stations around the world.

We continue past with only a few passing thoughts about the conspiracy theories involving Pine Gap, the CIA, NSA and Tidbinbilla. Our path then takes a turn again onto unsealed roads for the remainder of the journey to the Snowy Vineyard and Microbrewery.

A stone’s throw from the Snowy River, my journey ends with a tender steak and tasty sausages amid 300 acres of rolling hills and paddocks, as well as a chance to reflect on the Amarok V6’s ample aptitude for Australian terrain.

Swift, smooth and substantial in its outputs and refinement, this new Amarok V6 is in no danger of losing its title as undisputed light commercial vehicle champ.