We’ve spent just about four months with the big blue beast and in that time have come to admire its sheer breadth of talent, learning that, far from being a pure load-lugger, it is actually a car of many talents.
First off let’s make that distinction, it’s not a car, it is a pick-up truck, but it’s a pick-up that really wants to be a car. Sure, it’s built to carry great loads and will do that with aplomb, but everything from the rear-window forward screams “I’m just a big car”. It’s things like the excellent interior and leather seats, the kind of inside that rivals any mid-range big SUV, the ease of driving experience, even the cupholders in the back. Everything inside is designed to make you feel like you’re in a car, not a truck.
That’s no bad thing. It makes the Amarok a bit more liveable than some of the purer pick-ups on the market. It also means it stacks up more to the state-side kind of everyday SUV, the ubiquitous southern big-‘un that’s never really going to see a building site. Of course, it can also mean that if you are using the Amarok for real work, you might want to take your shoes off when you get inside. It’s not to say that Volkswagen haven’t thought things through, the interior is definitely more rough-and-ready than the rest of the VW range would be at this price point, but it isn’t the inside of a pure workhorse.
Next up we can’t go any further without one final gush about the Amarok’s fabulous motor. Whoever at Volkswagen decided it was time to jettison the old 2.0-litre TDI and give the whole range the giant 3.0-litre V6 oil-burner should be commended. It’s a gem, full of torque and an absolute monster when it comes to pulling. It makes you think what could be done with this engine if the great diesel panic hadn’t all but killed the prospect of it being shoehorned into much else. It hauls 2.2 tonnes around like it’s a supermini and can easily embarrass a lot of warm hatches off the line. The delivery is creamy, if not sporty, as it comes through a torque converter, but that allows the Amarok to ride that massive wave of torque and deal with the heave and lurch that comes with all that mass. It makes for an excellent proposition.
But the ride isn’t all good news. The front is far more planted than you might expect for such a high-riding machine, but day-to-day the rear’s leaf-springs (reinforced of course) can leave a little to be desired. The back bounces if not laden (anything in that load bay that’s under a certain weight is probably going to take off), and on a longer journey that can become a little tiresome. So be prepared to put up with a little irritation should the road be less than smooth.
That’s the only real irritation though. This is a pick-up that offers a real day-to-day proposition. Rather than focusing entirely on being a pick-up it manages to juggle the two worlds of lugging and living, meaning that if you are thinking about buying a big SUV, but also from time to time need to take a proper trip to the tip, you should probably take a second or two thinking about a pick-up instead. The Amarok just might tempt you.