Volkswagen Amarok SUV
Price £25,419 - £35,931
- Excellent build quality
- Spacious interior
- Big load area
- Difficult to park
- Uncomfortable suspension
- Car's size can be intimidating
At a glance
"The Volkswagen Amarok blurs the lines between builder's wagon and family car, with off-road ability, a big load bed and a spacious five-seater interior."
The Volkswagen Amarok is a pick-up truck, family car and SUV in one. It follows in the wheeltracks of the Toyota Hilux, Mitsubishi L200 and Nissan Navara, but looks classier and feels better built than any of them. It has an enormous load bed, a roomy five-seat cabin and selectable four-wheel drive (permanent on the eight-speed automatic version). However, don’t run away with the idea that it's a rival for a traditional SUV such as a Hyundai Santa Fe. It's still a commercial vehicle at heart, so feels relatively unrefined.
The Amarok is powered by a choice of two 2.0-litre diesel engines producing different power outputs. They’re powerful, but because of the Amarok's heavy weight and brick-like aerodynamics, not especially economical. For example, the most frugal 138bhp 2.0-litre version does only 36.2mpg, while its road tax bill is £290. Not only that, acceleration is hardly brisk, with 0-62mph taking 13.5 seconds.
However, more important to business users are the Amarok's workhorse abilities. On this score, all versions impress with their towing capacity of 3,000kg (the most powerful version with an automatic gearbox can tow 3,200kg) and payload capacity of just over a ton.
The 2.0-litre diesel engine is due to be replaced soon by a 3.0-litre, six cylinder diesel - available with 161, 201 or 221bhp. Even the most powerful version of this engine will have increased economy over the 2.0-litre, returning around 37mpg and costing £270 a year in road tax. Towing capacities are also set to improve, with some models capable of pulling up to 3,500kg.
The Amarok is a high-riding vehicle, so visibility is good. Its steering is surprisingly light, too. However, its heavy-duty suspension works best when the vehicle is loaded up; without any weight in it, the Amarok bounces a bit and leans heavily in corners. Fortunately, it always feels secure and its brakes are very powerful.
The interior is tough and attractive, but engine and road noise are quite prominent. The cabin is roomy, however rear-seat space isn’t quite as generous as what you’ll find in a large SUV. The load bay measures 2.5 square metres and wide enough to accommodate a forklift pallet.
There are three trim levels, spanning basic Startline and top-spec Highline, in addition to regular lavishly equipped special editions (the latest is called Atacama) produced every few months in quantities of 500. All standard versions have air-conditioning, alloy wheels, electric windows all-round and hill-descent control, which is useful if you’re driving off-road.
Our pick is the mid-range Trendline. It has larger alloys, climate control, a front centre armrest and attractive detailing and colour-coding that make the vehicle look a little less ‘commercial’.
The Amarok is a well built and reliable car that's been designed to take the worst that demanding business users can throw at it. It's not as safe as the best SUVs, however, with Euro NCAP awarding it only four out of five stars. However, it does at least have decent safety equipment, including a full complement of airbags, electronic stability control, hill-hold and trailer stabilisation.
In modern terms, neither of the Volkswagen Amarok diesel engines is hugely economical
Heavy weight compromises the speed and handling of the Volkswagen Amarok
The VW Amarok features highly adjustable seats, but the engines are noisy and the suspension is bouncy
The VW Amarok boasts an interior that’s spacious enough for five people
Standard VW quality makes the Volkswagen Amarok more car-like than some of its rivals