The market for 4×4 pick-ups has become a fashionable one, as the wide range of accessories for these otherwise functional machines, adds a deal of spice to their appearance. For those who make the 4×4 pick-up choice for reasons of business or image, the engine performance is one of the key features.
What’s the point of looking muscular if there’s little pace and stamina to back it up? Volkswagen has set the bar higher in power terms in the 4×4 pick-up market with the launch last year of the Amarok V6 version. In one fell swoop Volkswagen has leap frogged the competition by using an engine version that had been proven in the large Touareg SUV.
Pick-up drivers were a little apprehensive about the power claims of the previous Amarok. Getting 180bhp from a 2.0- litre turbo-diesel engine seemed to be at the heart of their concerns. That’s no longer an issue with the big 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel version that pumps out 204bhp and is now the sole six-cylinder engine option in the 4×4 pick-up market.
The extra power is smooth in terms of delivery and adds more muscle where it’s needed. This new Amarok has faster acceleration, more towing power and a higher payload capacity than the previous model. That means that this new V6 Amarok is now ready to challenge the market leaders, Ford’s Ranger and Toyota Hilux.
Out on the road the V6 engine power and 550Nm of torque is palpable as its flows through the eight speed automatic gearbox. Manual gearboxes will be the exception in the new Amarok as Volkswagen will claim that this more powerful engine will deliver at its best through the automatic gearbox.
The Amarok comes with a fuel economy rating of 14.3km/litre (7.8l/100km or 36mpg), which is marginally better than the previous smaller engine version. My test result was about 10% lower and that alone was an impressive real world driving margin difference.
In the 4×4 pick-up market I pitched the fuel economy performance of the new V6 Amarok against equivalent 4×4 pick-up vehicles at the top end of the power game. While the Amarok is an improvement it’s still significantly less powerful than the Nissan Navara.
The smooth flow of engine power is noticeable and the strength behind the acceleration is clear. Volkswagen did not provide a towbar on the Amarok, so that towing test with a claim of 3.5 tonnes with a braked trailer, was not put to the test. That towing rating puts the new Amarok at the top of the class along with the new Nissan Navara.
I was very impressed with the Amarok V6 in terms of power; it was comfortable on the highways where its rear leaf springs were not too noticeable. On smaller rural roads the ride was less comfortable and the bump more noticeable and here is the place to ease off on the pedal power.
The Amarok is wider than the competition and it feels so on those smaller rural roads. It is shorter however and its load area is not the longest, if load carrying ability is high on your agenda. The ground clearance is also lower than the competition while if you are brave enough to face a water crossing, there is a 500mm wading depth ability.
The Amarok comes with some options around the 4×4 system. You can choose from a selectable (with manual gearbox) and permanent (with auto) 4MOTION four-wheel drive. An optional mechanical rear-axle differential lock is also available for demanding off-road use.
Entry prices for this engine grade start at €47,670, which means that the Amarok is one of the more expensive 4×4 pick-ups on the market. Can that premium be justified? The sales figures don’t seem to indicate so, as Amarok shares joint fifth place in the market for the first three months of 2017 with the Isuzu D-Max.