Wolf Mother

by Petrol Mum
VW Amarok Style in fog

The second-generation Volkswagen Amarok has arrived in Australia ready to face off with its dual cab rivals like the Toyota HiLux and the Ford Ranger. The Amarok is largely based on the underpinnings of the next-gen Ford Ranger with subtle differences in the running gear, exterior styling and interior comforts. Plus, the Amarok is built in Ford’s South African facility whereas the Ranger is built in Thailand.  

There are currently five variants within the Amarok pack, starting with the Core, Life, Style, PanAmericana, and the at top the Aventura. The bottom three come with what Volkswagen calls Standard suspension and the top two have Dynamic suspension, but why is this worth mentioning?

Most utes still run leaf spring rear suspension, technology that dates back to the horse and carriage and it is why when you drive a ute you will find the ride is jiggly and generally unrefined. This is the case for the VW Amarok Style that I drove and when I was asked to compare it to the Ford Ranger I had driven, I said that it did not feel as nice as the Ranger. But the Ranger I was comparing it to was the higher spec Wildtrak, which is equivalent to the PanAmericana or Aventura, so not a direct apple for apples comparison.

The Amarok Style differentiates from the two lower spec variants of the Amarok with 18″ alloy wheels, rear bumper and side steps with chrome inlay, a stainless steel sports bar, and IQ. Light LED-Matrix Headlamps. You can select between the 2.0 litre or 3.0-litre diesel engine and the Amarok Style I drove was powered by a 3.0-litre V6, single turbo diesel engine with 184 kW and 600 Nm. The engine feels much like other diesel-powered utes on the market, but I did note that it seemed quiet. The official combined fuel consumption is 8.4L/100km and for my week I used 10.7L/100km of diesel.

The V6 diesel engine is paired with a 10-speed automatic gearbox (shift by wire) and VW’s 4MOTION advanced selectable all-wheel drive, a rear mechanical diff lock, and downhill descent control. The all-wheel drive system can be set to 2H, 4H, 4L, or 4A and there are six drive modes to select from being Normal, Eco, Tow/Haul, Slippery, Mud/Ruts, and Deep Snow/Sand. I spent the week driving on-road in Normal mode and only briefly switched to 4H to pull up a damp grassy slope.

As the name suggests, the interior of the Amarok Style is stylish and a bit posh for a dual cab ute. You get Art Velour covered seats, a leather multifunction steering wheel, leather gearshift knob, premium stitched leather-look dashboard and door inserts, ambient lighting, a 12″ digital infotainment screen, and a 12.3” digital cockpit.

The Art Velour Microfibre Black-Grey / Ebony Black front seats are nice to touch and comfortable and I appreciated that they were heated as well. The driver’s seat gets 10-way electric adjustment with no memory positions and the passenger seat has 8-way manual adjustment.

The technology in the Amarok Style is up to date with wireless Android Auto/Apple CarPlay and wireless phone charging and my phone connected seamlessly to the system. The wireless pad is located at the front of the centre console with a 12V, USB-A, and USB-C port also located here. I liked that there was no gloss black surfaces located here or anywhere in the Amarok Style’s cabin and this is something you should appreciate as well because it means you won’t have to wipe the dust off constantly.

Unfortunately the infotainment still gets fingermarks on it though and you will need to use it for every function of the Amarok including the climate controls, which are quickly accessed by pressing the climate menu button below the screen. The Amarok Style also has voice control to access the infotainment system and this is activated by pressing the feminine looking silhouette on the steering wheel. The voice control worked well for me to make a phone call, change the radio station and enter a destination on the sat nav, although this was a bit hit and miss.

I liked the upper and lower glove boxes in the Amarok, but some of the other cabin features possibly required more thought from VW. Like the location of the two cup holders that are just in front of the arm rest and so it is awkward to remove your coffee cup from them and if you did this without paying attention you could knock your coffee cup on the lip of the arm rest and make a mess. The drink bottle storage in the front door cubbies is also compromised and only suitable for slim soft plastic water bottles. The door pull within the door handle is another feature that takes a bit of getting used to.

The rear seats have ample head room for adults, but leg room is a bit tight and for younger passengers you get two ISOFIX/two rear tether child seat restraint points. I particularly like that the anchor points are clearly labelled behind the rear seats and are metal rather than braided material that is used on many other utes.

The centre seat folds down as an arm rest with two rigid cup holders in the front of it and there are three pockets for smartphones located at the front of the seat. Like the front doors, the drink bottle storage cubbies in the rear doors are only suitable for small slim plastic drink bottles. Rear passengers get two central air vents with basic individual direction and on/off controls and below the vents there is one 12V outlet only. There are mats on the rear floors, but not across the transmission tunnel, so this carpet may become worn over time.

The tub of the Amarok Style is spray lined with a hard plastic material; that offers little grip and as the Style does not have a tub cover you will need to carry your groceries home in the cabin and this would be hard if you had more than one rear seat passenger. The tub length is extended by the cutaways at the front and the width is 120cm between the wheel arches. To secure your load there are six substantial tie down points, four in each corner of the tub and two behind the wheel arches. The tub has one 12V outlet and two small lights that can be turned on and off from in the cabin. A full-size spare tyre is located under the tub. The Amarok Style has a 1,031kg payload capacity and a static roof loading of up to 350kg. The maximum braked towing capacity of the Amarok range is 3.5-tonnes and the utes are fitted with Swerve Steer assist.

All dual cab variants in the all-new Amarok range have a 5-star ANCAP (2022) safety rating with an Adult Occupant Protection Score 86% (32.98 points out of 38) and a Child Occupant Protection Score 93% (46.00 points out of 49). ANCAP stress the point that the installation of child restraints in the centre seating position of the second row is not recommended as there is no top tether anchorage.

Dual frontal, side chest-protecting and side head-protecting (curtain) airbags, and driver and passenger knee airbags are standard. A centre airbag which provides added protection to front seat occupants in side impact crashes is also standard. The Amarok Style comes with a 360-degree rear view camera combined with a standard rear-view camera with front and rear parking sensors.

VW Amarok Style rear view camera

IQ.Light LED matrix headlights standard on Style, PanAmericana and Aventura models and have individually activated light emitting diodes to determine the brightness and direction of the light cone, thus providing variable illumination of the road depending on the situation. The system includes the Dynamic Light Assist advanced main beam control and dynamic headlight range control functions that are dusk sensing, combined with rain sensing wipers.

Active safety aids on the Amarok Style includes Lane keeping and departure warning, Front Assist with Pedestrian and Cyclists Monitoring function, Side Assist with blind spot monitoring, Rear Traffic Alert, and Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with stop and go function, and predictive speed limiter through Dynamic Road Sign Display

ANCAP tests of the autonomous emergency braking (AEB) (Car-to-Car) system showed a mix of ADEQUATE and GOOD performance with collisions avoided or mitigated in most test scenarios, including AEB Junction Assist where the test vehicle can autonomously brake to avoid crashes when turning across the path of an oncoming vehicle. Tests of lane support system functionality showed GOOD performance, including in the more critical emergency lane keeping test scenarios. Overall, the ANCAP Safety Assist score for the Amarok is 83%.

All new Volkswagen vehicles come with a 5 Year Unlimited kilometre warranty and a 1-year membership to Volkswagen Roadside Assist. If you service your Volkswagen at an authorised Volkswagen Dealer, you can receive an additional 12 months Roadside Assistance. The service interval for the Amarok V6 diesel engine is 15,000km or 12 months, whichever occurs first. An upfront 5-Year Care Plan for the Amarok that covers standard service costs can be purchased for commercial use vehicles for $1,800.

VW Amarok Style with hay

Is the Volkswagen Amarok the new leader of the pack when it comes to dual cab utes in Australia? Well without a head-to-head comparison with the next-gen Ford Ranger that is hard to decide at this point in time. Contact your preferred Volkswagen dealer for more information about the all-new Amarok range.

Stylish cabin finishesRide is jiggly and ute like
Two metal, properly labelled child seat restraint points  Some cabin storage design issues
The many active driver safety features  Rear leg room is tight and no rear USB ports

Photographs by Driven Women Magazine.

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