First Drive

Volkswagen Amarok

The story:
The Volkswagen Amarok is the most premium of pick-ups, at least until Mercedes attempts to nick that crown when it enters the sector next year.
Key rival:
On sale:
Aventura 3.0 V6 TDi
Price:£31,995 (ex VAT)
Load length/height/width:1555mm/508mm/1620mm

That might help explain why, contrary to the general trend of engine downsizing, VW has ditched the old Amarok’s 2.0-litre engines in favour of a new 3.0-litre V6 diesel – the only six-cylinder model in the segment. The new engine emits less CO2 than the old 2.0, while power is up from the old pick-up’s 140hp or 180hp to either 204hp or 224hp. Economy remains the same as before at 36.2mpg; that’s a way off the class-leading Nissan Navara 2.3dCi, which manages at least 44.8mpg.

There’s more to this mid-life upgrade than the new engine, with VW also giving the Amarok a new bumper and grille, new alloys and an LED third brakelight. Inside, there’s a new dashboard, including the firm’s intuitive touchscreen. Bluetooth and DAB radio are standard across the range.

The extra power gives the Amarok a feeling of unflappable strength, especially combined with the standard eight-speed DSG automatic gearbox. A manual will be added to the 204hp engine this summer, along with a new 163hp 3.0-litre model and an entry Startline trim.

That’ll be welcome news for those seeking an affordable Amarok, because the revised truck has had something of a price hike. The range kicks off at £26,255, excluding VAT, for the Trendline trim. The Amarok driven here is the top-spec special edition Aventura, which at £31,995 plus VAT is the most expensive pick-up on sale. However, all models get good safety kit, including a post-collision braking system and four airbags. Payloads are up, ranging from 1112-1154kg depending on model.

The verdict

It’s the most desirable pick-up, is probably the best to drive, has the best interior, and a prestige its rivals can’t match. However, you certainly pay for it.