When the Volkswagen Amarok launched five years ago, it gave the competition a very rude shock. Despite never having built a pick-up, Volkswagen arrived on the scene with the most refined ute ever sold here. The Amarok, exclusively available with a biturbo four-cylinder diesel, also proved highly capable, with a series of well-publicised outback tours under its belt. For some, though, the diminutive two-litre capacity just felt too small and highly-strung for a heavy, large vehicle.
Well, rival ute makers are about to be hit by the Amarok’s second shockwave: the long-awaited Amarok V6 is here. The V6, previously used in Porsche and Audi SUVs, completes the Amarok package. It delivers strong and relaxed grunt that suits the character of the vehicle. The V6 upgrade doesn’t just improve performance – it also adds a host of new creature comforts to the Amarok, solidifying the message that this dual-cab ute is now quite capable to replace an SUV as a family car of choice.
The new V6 engine arrives alongside a complete refresh of the Amarok which brings a more aggressive look. Smart-looking LED daytime running lights complement a stronger front end. Elsewhere outside, the Amarok is business as usual – it is larger than most other utes and asserts itself on the road. Inside, the dash has been darkened and remodelled; there is a new navigation unit, and supple Nappa leather seats are available. Autonomous safety features are not present, which is something to keep in mind.
Of course, the 3.0 TDI550 engine is the big news. It produces 165kW of power normally and 180kW from an overboost mode during hard acceleration. The stout 550Nm of torque is over 30% more than what the four-cylinder can generate. The Amarok feels very relaxed and torquey, rather than outright fast. An eight-speed torque converter automatic channels power to permanent four-wheel-drive with a locking rear differential. Later, a six-speed manual with selectable low range will be offered in the V6 to please purists.
The V6 extends the Amarok’s leadership of the ute class, and it looks like good value. The $59,990 Highline model will shock less powerful Asian rivals like the $61,790 Ranger Wildtrak and $56,390 HiLux SR5, which now seem expensive. The Ultimate trim is $67,990, and will satisfy those looking for a very luxurious ute, with even more premium appointments inside and large wheels.
Key specs (as tested)
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