Review : 2022 VW Amarok

Published: Mar 14, 2022 3:10 PM

Japanese brands, as well as Ford, has dominated the Ute 4×4 market. However, European manufacturers have been largely absent from this segment. But there is one European model that is as good as the rest of the popular 4×4 pickup segment, the Volkswagen Amarok. Even though its sales figures are not as impressive as Ranger’s or Hilux’s, Australia is one of Amarok’s top export markets, and Volkswagen sells quite a lot of them here. But, what makes Amarok appealing to the buyers and does it have a chance of beating Ford and Toyota in this important market segment? Let’s find out.

The Amarok was first introduced back in 2010 and refreshed in 2017. Even though this is, without a doubt, an older design, this 4×4 pickup is still quite capable of fulfilling all the duties and fighting competitors. This model was discontinued in Europe in 2020, but we believe that Volkswagen will keep this model in their lineup here and probably introduce the second generation in the foreseeable future.

The Amarok Range

The Amarok is only offered as one body style – double cab pickup, and there are no Hi or Low Rider versions, which clearly aims this model away from the strictly commercial market. The lineup starts with Amarok Core which is a base grade version. This model comes with 16-inch alloy wheels and rubber floor mats, but the rear parking sensors with camera and the leather-wrapped steering wheel is part of the package. The most exciting thing about Amarok Core is the fact that it comes with a rear differential lock, aiming it towards customers who need dependable work and off-road Ute.

Next in line is Amarok V6 Core which has 17-inch wheels, front fog lamps and a V6 engine under the bonnet. The Amarok V6 Sportline, like a step up, has 18-inch wheels, 8-speed automatic transmission, automatic wipers and dual-zone climate control. For buyers who prefer aesthetics over function, Volkswagen prepared V6 Black Edition 580, which has black trim on the exterior, unique 18-inch wheels and cloth seats, satellite navigation and bi-Xenon headlights. The V6 Highline 580 is envisioned as a luxury off-roader with chrome roll-bar and side steps, premium cloth seats, advanced infotainment display and metallic paints.

The top-of-the-line model is called Amarok V6 Aventura 580, and it comes with 20-inch wheels, a host of interior upgrades, a few subtitle exterior details and luxury features. This model is not aimed at users who will take it off-road but for people who want a daily driver with all amenities. However, there is one more Amarok version which is regarded as a separate model by Volkswagen, and it is W580X. It is off-road/performance grade with unique design, equipment and power output, and it is designed to be a competitor to the sublime Ford Ranger Raptor.

The Engines And Transmissions

Volkswagen has been known as one of the pioneer companies when it comes to diesel engines. That is why it isn’t surprising that the engine range for Amarok consists only of “oil-burners”. There are two engines available but in several power levels. The base unit is a 2.0-litre TDI four-cylinder with 132 kW and 400 Nm of torque or 420 Nm if you opt for an 8-speed automatic over a standard 6-speed manual.

However, Amarok shines the 3.0-litre V6 TDI engine, which comes in several power levels. The base 3.0-litre is rated at 165 kW and 500 or 550 Nm with an over-boost function that will deliver 180 kW for a short period. Volkswagen is offering the same engine for higher-grade models but with 190 kW and 580 Nm (hence the numerical designation next to the grade name), making it easily the most powerful Ute in its class. But the absolute champion in terms of power and performance is the Amarok W580X model, which has the same 3.0-litre but is rated at 200 kW and 580 Nm, which is far beyond anything competitors offer.

The Amarok was criticized for its 4Motion all-wheel-drive system, which is less rugged and more complicated than the one we usually see in similar vehicles. It is because VW aimed this model towards more lifestyle users who will not use their vehicles as hard as some. The rear locking differential is only available on the base model, but all other grades come with a regular Torsen-type 4×4 system with three modes – rear-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive four-wheel-drive low range. With a payload from 900 to 1100 kg for most versions and up to 3500 kg towing capacity, Amarok is up to par with the rest of the models in the segment.

The Interior and Equipment

The interior is designed to be practical and ergonomically correct, but the overall styling is noticeably outdated. You can see it by the layout and relatively small 6.33-inch infotainment display on the centre console. Yes, it has Apple Car Play and Android Auto, but it’s slow to react, and its interface is at least a generation behind the current standards.

Amarok is decently equipped with a host of electronic stability controls and sensors in terms of safety. However, it lacks some of the modern features that Ranger and Hilux have.

The Conclusion

Despite the powerful engines, elegant design and performance, the Volkswagen Amarok is not as usable as some competitors due to the lack of versions and 4×4 system, which is more suited for hobbyists than for serious commercial customers. However, it is still a serious piece of kit, mainly because it has mighty engines, a car-like driving position, excellent driving dynamics and performance. Its position on the market might be threatened by the upcoming Ford Ranger and Toyota Hilux, which promises next-level construction and engine upgrades as well as longer equipment lists, then Amarok, which is desperately in need of extensive refresh and modernisation.

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Mar 14, 2022 3:10 PM

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