Volkswagen’s latest Australian-flavoured ute. 

Story Bruce McMahon  Photo Volkswagen

The Amarok Style sits in the middle of Volkswagen’s latest generation of utilities, highlighting a fresh mix of comforts and capabilities offered in the German-tuned, South African-built products.

As with all the current 5-model VW range, the Style is based around Ford Australia’s Ranger, so the basic underpinnings – chassis and drivetrains – are already known and critically acknowledged. But here VW gives the 4-door Amaroks a plusher, more Eurocentric focus, right down to swapping the indicator lever to the left-hand side.

The Amarok Style arrives with the choice of 2 diesel engines – a turbocharged 3L diesel V6 with 184kW, or a 2.2L, twin-turbocharged 4-cylinder with 154kW. Both come with 10-speed automatic and a drivetrain that allows a suite of options, from 2-wheel drive to automatic all-wheel drive and low-range, rear differential lock-up, allowing a fair degree of confidence on all types of road and track surfaces. It’s a pity about the stubby auto transmission lever, with finicky buttons for ‘manual’ gear changes.

Out on the open road, the V6 Amarok slips through the ratios seamlessly and is rarely found wanting. The ute is well-sorted in 2-wheel drive on a gravel road, better again when in auto all-wheel drive. When the going is steadier – climbing over rocks, dodging washaways or dumping speed for tight turns through the timber – a simpler method of manually dropping a gear ratio or 3 would be appreciated. It is a quiet, smooth engine and drivetrain under all conditions. VW reckons the optional V6, with a handy 600Nm of torque, should return an average of 8.4L/100km, although a week of mixed demands, from town to highway to bush tracks, saw that running closer to 10L/100km.

Designed to carry up to a tonne and tow 3500kg, the Amarok’s road manners are impressive. Chassis and suspension tuning make for a civilised tourer over all manner of surfaces. It turns in with confidence, then sits flat and tight through turns, hard enough to elicit protest from the 18-inch Goodyears.

Those highway-biased tyres look a little underdone – a tad too citified – as does the shiny ‘sports’ bar, which does little aside from restricting access to the tub floor. No argument with the amount of cabin or tub space though. It’s good enough for 4 big adults and a pallet between the wheel arches out back, with 6 tie-down hooks a bonus.

The 2023 Amaroks are now longer, at 5.3m, and sit on a 175mm longer wheelbase with ground clearance of 235mm. It can feel a touch bulky around town, but these are large and comfortable utes with the Style version’s cabin as smart and sophisticated as found in premium wagons.

The interior is neat, tidy and well-finished – right down to a leather-look dashboard – in the manner of most Volkswagens. Drivers will appreciate a top-grade, leather-wrapped steering wheel plus supportive seats with electrical adjustments allowing for a perfect fit. Digital instrumentation, switchgear and controls for a myriad of functions are logical and legible, although controlling the air conditioning through the 30.5cm touchscreen can be annoying.

A long list of convenience and comfort features on the Style includes keyless entry and start, wireless charging for phones, satellite navigation and access to a range of audio sources. Safety features and driver aids range from a tyre pressure monitor to lane keeping assistance, a bird’s eye camera view when reversing, speed sign recognition and, when the going gets tougher, hill descent speed control and locking rear differential. 

The Amarok Style with V6 option, priced around $70,990 before on-road costs, is a pretty complete and plush package. It’s a handsome machine, inside and out, but trends more toward lifestyle machine than workhorse, more family adventure transport than farm or worksite vehicle. 

Two other versions of the Amarok – the Core and Life, with similar chassis and suspension, but smaller engines and less add-ons – sit below the mid-range Style and may better suit some looking for sophisticated workhorses without all of the bells and whistles. VW also offers 2 more highly specified models, the Aventura and PanAmericana, above the Style.

This pack of Amaroks will be Volkswagen Australia’s best sellers in 2023 and beyond. 

This story excerpt is from Issue #152

Outback Magazine: Dec/Jan 2024