Class-leading features and performance will see Volkswagen’s new Amarok shake up the Aussie ute market.

Story By Mat Raudonikis

Volkswagen has taken the bold step of releasing an all-new vehicle into the hotly contested one-tonne ute segment. The Argentina-built VW Amarok will be a force to be reckoned with, competing against established players such as Toyota HiLux, Nissan Navara and Mitsubishi Triton.
Amarok arrives with class-leading cabin space, equipment levels, safety, comfort, payload and on-road dynamics so it is sure to make its presence known in the class that is popular with city and country buyers alike. Initially holding back its sales will be its limited model range but that is set to grow in the next 18 months. On debut, Amarok is available with just a double-cab body, a choice of two- or four-wheel-drive, two 4WD systems and four specification levels, but just the one engine and gearbox option.
The engine is a twin-turbo 2.0-litre diesel that makes 120kW of power and 400Nm of torque, while returning 7.9L/100km fuel consumption. The only gearbox is a six-speed manual although an automatic transmission, expected to be an eight-speed unit, will be available in 2012. A direct-injection turbocharged petrol engine and a single-cab body are also due for release in the coming year.
Many will question the relatively small two-litre engine’s ability when compared with the larger engines of its rivals. They needn’t be concerned as the twin-turbochargers are set up in such a way that there is always plenty of grunt from low in the revs making the Amarok a strong workhorse and relaxed touring vehicle.
Even though it is only available as a dual-cab at this stage, the Amarok still makes a hardworking truck. It has the ability to haul a 2800-kilogram trailer and a payload of up to 1100kg depending on specification level. Some of the so-called one-tonne utes can’t match that tonne-plus capability. The chassis and underpinnings are solid and look tough so they should stand the test of time. The Amarok is not a ute derived from a passenger car but closer to Volkswagen’s range of commercial vehicles in terms of its rugged construction. It’s made for tough terrain in places such as Australia, South America and South Africa, and is not a soft European vehicle.

This story excerpt is from Issue #77

Outback Magazine: June/July 2011