Anybody remember the Taro? It was a light pick-up sold by Volkswagen almost quarter of a century ago that was really a Toyota Hilux. Not forgetting the quirky Mk1 Golf pick-up of the same era, the Amarok is the German firm’s real first stab at this increasingly competitive market sector but this time it’s all VW’s own work – and it shows.
You’d think that as VW makes the Tiguan and Touareg SUVs, the latter that also forms the basis of the Porsche Cayenne no less, Amarok would simply be a clever adaptation. Not so says Volkswagen, adding that, apart from its Touareg cab styling, the pick-up is a dedicated design. Not surprisingly then, Amarok is a quality light truck that is a cut above the rest in style, build and refinement, so much so, that it’s a worthy and tempting alternative to VW’s normal, pricier SUV range.
At present, the range is solely based upon a five-seater, four-door king cab; VW markets a base single cab abroad and initially promised it for the UK, but is having second thoughts. The Amarok range is purely 4x4 (VW’s 4Motion) as well, either selectable or permanent depending upon model. Power comes from VW’s excellent 2-litre TDi in single (140bhp) or twin-turbo (180bhp) tunes. fed via a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmission. Trim levels are Startline, Trendline and Highline and all are well equipped.
In fact, the Amarok feels almost too good to put towards hard-working pick-up use, especially the leather clad, heated-seat Highline flagship which almost puts a Range Rover Sport to shame. It’s also has gutsy performance and car-like handling.
However, it is made for hard work. At the business end, the load deck is the most generous of its kind around, yet also has the lowest load floor height. There’s plenty of storage inside the cab but, if more is required, the rear seat can be tipped up and secured.
As it’s a pricey pick-up, it’s wise to opt for a clever load bay protective coating (as opposed to a normal load liner) costing £485. A matching colour hard top costs almost £2,000. Rear parking sensors are standard on the Highline and a £350 option on the Trendline yet not available on the base model, strangely – surely these buyers can ill afford to have a bump?
That niggle apart, it’s hard to criticise the Amarok, it’s a terrific truck that you’ll want to use for work, rest and play – but it’s also one of the dearest, although all come air conditioned. Looks like VW is playing its Taro cards right this time around.
PICK-UP VW Amarok 180bhp Highline
LOAD l: 1,555mm, w: 1,620mm, h: 508mm, payload: 1,077kg
MPG (combined) 35.3
CO2 EMISSIONS 211g/km