• Comfort, space, ride both on- and off-road, grunt, traction
  • No auto, a fraction more height would make it unstoppable

8 / 10

Volkswagen Amarok off-road review
Volkswagen Amarok off-road review
Volkswagen Amarok off-road review
by Karl Peskett

Tested by Dakar. That’s the line Volkswagen uses to tout its Amarok’s off-road credentials.

Well, if sand and rocks are fodder for the Amarok, then how about mud, gravel and clay? That’s exactly what we threw at the Volkswagen Amarok to see if it could really cope with the worst conditions imaginable.

The test was based in Perth, just out of the city in a well-known four-wheel drive area called The Powerline Track. It is so named because the track follows powerlines from just out of Mundaring and heads east through the Darling Scarp.

The weekend in question was preceded by rain. Lots and lots of rain. Consequently, any chance of it remaining in the same condition as when we tested the Range Rover Vogue here was quite literally washed away. This gave us the best opportunity to really put the Amarok through its paces and see if that Dakar testing has paid off.

On any serious off-road expedition, you’d be stupid to not take a few cars and recovery gear. We managed to rustle up ten modified four-wheel drives, with such diverse additions as lift-kits, bigger wheels and tyres, and locking differentials. Then there was our test car – one completely standard Volkswagen Amarok Trendline.

Thankfully, we had the selectable 4MOTION system, which gives you the choice of rear-wheel drive, four-wheel drive and four-wheel drive low-range, enabling you to choose the best mode for the conditions. Selecting a mode was as simple as pushing a button on the right of the gear lever, and leaving the car in neutral. Our car also had a locking rear differential giving us the best traction possible when wheels were off the ground, but more on that later.

Volkswagen Amarok off-road review
Volkswagen Amarok off-road review
Volkswagen Amarok off-road review
Volkswagen Amarok off-road review

Heading up Greenmount Hill, you notice how flexible the twin-turbocharged, 2.0-litre, four-cylinder diesel engine is. Sitting at 80km/h up a fairly steep gradient, the VW was happy in fifth gear, trundling along at just over 1500rpm, with overtaking as simple as flexing your right foot – all that torque comes in thick and strong.

Further along Great Eastern Highway, the speed limit increases to 110km/h and when slotted into sixth gear, the Amarok was doing 2000rpm and riding with ridiculous comfort. The suspension (despite the rear being leaf springs) was remarkable in its bump absorption. At times, you can feel the rear bounce a little, however the front rides with aplomb – for a work ute – and with soft yet supportive seats, the Amarok is by far the most comfortable of all of the dual-cab utes on sale today.

The Amarok’s steering is also sublime, as is the gear change. Unlike some utes whose gearboxes seem to be made of marshmallow, the Amarok’s direct shift feels fantastic and is never overly notchy nor does it baulk at quick changes, both up or down.

So far, this is looking very good. But we haven’t ventured off road yet, so it still could all come undone.

A right-hand exit off Great Eastern Highway and we head south on Flynn Road, following it for a few hundred metres. It’s then a left turn as soon as you see the powerlines. This is the second and much more challenging section of the track. Tyre pressures were dropped to 20psi to enable the tyres to have some flex – the last thing you want is a sharp rock busting a sidewall open while you’re trying to climb an incline.

Volkswagen Amarok off-road review
Volkswagen Amarok off-road review
Volkswagen Amarok off-road review
Volkswagen Amarok off-road review

It doesn’t take long before we reach our first challenge. A water crossing followed by a rutted out hill climb. The water isn’t an issue; it’s only around 500mm deep, and the Amarok sits very tall, so it just cruises through without an issue. The first part of the climb, however, is laden with thick, slimy goo which some people would call mud – others would call it bricklayer’s cement.

It’s as we come up against the first part that we realise the tyres have turned to slicks, with the mud caking the tread seconds after exiting the water. A good test for the Amarok’s traction and stability control, then.

The car climbed up slowly, spinning the wheels, and then the ESC jumps in, realising what’s going on. You can feel the engine being braked at each wheel, with different corners clicking away and stopping the slide. The vehicle lurches forward, then slightly sideways and then more braking from the sides as it arrests the yaw, with more shunting forward. Lots of clicking from underneath as the ESC does its thing and finally we climb up and out. The first test is passed.

It’s when we get to the next slippery slope that the depth of some of the ruts prevents the traction control from fully sorting out the lack of grip. No matter: to the left of the gear stick is a differential lock button. Press it and everything switches off – ESC, ABS, all driver aids. But the drivetrain locks solid and you can feel all wheels turning as one. This is extremely helpful as some wheels jump into the air, and as you inch forward, other wheels do the same while the rest touch down. No matter which wheels are down, there’s drive going to them.

Volkswagen Amarok off-road review
Volkswagen Amarok off-road review
Volkswagen Amarok off-road review
Volkswagen Amarok off-road review

The 2.0-litre, turbo-diesel four gets that drive to the wheels with a minimum of fuss. With 400Nm available from just 1500rpm, tractable is too weak a word to describe it. While climbing and dealing with lack of traction, the revs were going up and down dependent on grip at the time. At one stage, it dropped as far as 900rpm, but never bogged down or shuddered. It just revs cleanly and quickly, so much so my passenger was shaking his head, never imagining a diesel could be this good. But it is.

Of course, having an automatic would be so much better, but as a manual, this transmission is very good. In fact, of the current crop of dual-cab utes, it’s by far the best shift action and easiest and most progressive clutch. As far as a drivetrain goes, the Amarok is superb.

So is the suspension. Yes, you’ll feel the bumps and lumps and everything going on underneath, but it’s never jarring or jittery. Having leaf springs in the back doesn’t make it any less comfy off road and there’s enough travel to ensure grip is at a premium.

But grip isn’t purely dependent on suspension. Once the wheels spin against the surface, more comes into play. We learned that if you just keep your foot buried if in slippery conditions, unlike other four-wheel drives which brake against the revs and slow the engine while the stability control does its thing, the Amarok’s ESC tends to let the engine work more.

Volkswagen Amarok off-road review
Volkswagen Amarok off-road review
Volkswagen Amarok off-road review
Volkswagen Amarok off-road review

It’s as if it’s more suited to sandy conditions (Dakar, anyone?), where revs and wheelspin are crucial. If you want the ESC to help you out, it’s best to keep the revs between 1000-2000rpm and you’ll find the ESC works a lot more effectively, cutting in a lot earlier.

What’s especially amazing is these were highway tyres. They’re not designed to cope with the slime we had to contend with. They caked up, yet the ESC managed to gather what little grip there was, and provide forward momentum. Calibrated correctly? Most definitely. And if you’re in ridiculously boggy sand, it can be completely switched off.

With it’s brilliant ESC and locking differential, no matter what the conditions, traction is not an issue. Ground clearance could be considered a problem, as despite how tall the Amarok is, a little more clearance would be helpful so the sills don’t drag, but we’re talking extreme off-roading here. Taller tyres will help this; a simple aftermarket modification. An extra inch or two is all it needs to keep up with ridiculously jacked up Hiluxes and Prados. Indeed, the Amarok showed up quite a few vehicles on the day.

Not once did we have to get towed out. Not once did we get grounded. We did slip off a ridge and pop off the front flare section on the bumper, more due to driver error than the car. But despite the superficial damage, the Amarok conquered the Powerline Track.

Volkswagen Amarok off-road review
Volkswagen Amarok off-road review

Here’s the rub: Compared with dedicated four-wheel drives, the Amarok holds its own. But compared with its competition, with stock dual-cab utes, the Amarok beats them all, hands down. I don’t care which one you name, Toyota Hilux, Nissan Navara, Holden Colorado, Isuzu D-Max, Mitsubishi Triton – the Amarok is better.

It rides better, sounds better, looks better and is built better. The Volkswagen Amarok may have been “tested by Dakar” but right here it’s been tested by Australia.

This is definitely the Uber Ute.

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Volkswagen Amarok off-road review
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  • Able

    I know I won’t use my Amarok (when it arrives of course) in anything that heavy but it’s reassuring to know that it has that ability. I’m even happier that my car will be the MY12 (with steering-wheel audio controls and heated seats standard on the Ultimate which I ordered)! Can’t wait!

    • garry d

      more economical than hilux more towing power than hilux safer than hilux bigger weight carry than hilux wheres the negatives !!!!!!!!!!

      • Matt

        more expensive then hilux, no auto

        • Al Juraj

          Also, long-term reliability is unknown.

          • david_139

            german engineering it will last

          • DC79

            You must not have owned many German cars. They are engineered to fail expensively after about five years.

          • David998

            My dad has a merc go and it has only failed once over the last 6 years when we ruined the air compressor for the suspension on some rocks, German cars don’t fail after 5 years they last for ages, and I’m 99.99999% sure the Amarok will have no trouble

  • shane

    great review

    another great VW

  • Xr5man

    So do you get in trouble with VW for damaging there car?

  • Octavian

    Ditto, deserves to become more recognised and respected, regardless of it’s lack of heritage.

  • NICK

    seems like agreat car but the thing that puts most people off the car is the 2 litre they will sell 4 times as much if it was a 3 litre i know the eonomy is an issue the ute is great i just dont like high output small engines and that seems to be the amaroks only letdown

    • KD

      Go and drive it you fool

      • NICK

        i know it would be plenty powerful enough and great to drive but it is stilll a problem many ute buyers would stick with the HiLux just because it is a 2 litre i know 5 people off the top of my head thats all i am saying

    • http://internode.on.net Old Pete

      Nick, I am a bit of a “VW fanboy” but agree. If it had the 2.5L 5 cylinder from the Dakar Touaregs it would be a ball-tearer and would probably be able to increase its towing capacity (maybe 3.5 tonne). Even better would be the 3L V6 from Audi – but fuel consumption would be an issue.

      For a tow-vehicle I am now toying with the new Touareg 4XMotion.

      • NICK

        3 litre v6 from audi would make it a killer

        • Nick 2

          “I just don’t like high output small engines” – umm, why?

      • Reckless1

        What would be wrong with the 3.0l from VW?

    • JESSE

      absolute agreement… the 2 litre, rear cup holders and silly left handed indicator are the only reasons i haven’t bought one yet… was hoping the hilux update would have included some mechanicals… now the amoroc’s back in with a chance but the small motor is the biggest drawback… it’s not that i am against small turbo engines (i have a 400hp 2litre petrol) but for a ute, i’d like the engine to be less stressed… and one of the guys at work just had to replace some seals on his 3 year old turbo diesel golf, so dont say it doesn’t happen, it’s only going to be worse on a heavier vehicle doing more hard work.

  • bangel

    Another magnificent piece of german technology , world dominance beckons those who push the limits .

  • NICK

    MISTAKE “i know economy is an issue” i meant if they put a 3 litre the economy would be an issue

    • http://www.bing.com/ Nyanna

      I think you hit a bulselye there fellas!

  • scottjames_12

    Nice review, sounds like a nice product. I wonder how the new Ranger will fare against the competition?

    • NICK

      the ranger will be top of the class this is nice but still dont trust high output small capacity engines

      • bigmal

        nick you are giving nick’s all around the world a bad name….. i’m a new owner of an amarok and the power down low and in sixth gear on the highway in incredible.. and don’t get me started on stability!

        • Paulmc

          I’m with you bigmal !! They stick to the road like glue !! Unbelievably stable vehicle. Whats more a little birdie(Mazda Mechanic) told me,the Mazda BT50/ Ford are nearly at the point of recalls for transmission faults !!! As an ex mechanic, personally, I think the only close competitor will be the new Isuzu Utes !!When it comes to an all round call that is ! Cost, Fuel consumption, Reliability, Tractability, Comfort, Repair costs Etc !!

          • Blue Soup

            That little Birdie Knows Nothing and by the sounds of it either do you. Reliability and Repaircosts are dirty words in VW’s Language (none i mean NONE of thier cars have either of these features)
            As for economy i have drove an Amarok for over 1,500k’s of normal everyday driving i.e Highway,City,Light Offroad and Country K’s. with another passenger and no luggage we achived 12.7l/100 nothing great at all just average for any turbo diesel ute!!!!!!!!!

  • paulb

    $31,990 must be the two door version.The base 4 door is more than 32k.Great ute,but Ranger and BT50 inline5 TD will be more popular.

    • KD

      $31,990 is RRP ex on roads for Single Turbo RWD Dual Cab.

      • paulb

        My mistake KD had not seen that model advertised.Amarok a good edition to the VW range,looks like a great offroader.

  • Pauly

    The BT50 looks really odd. Almost like it’s face has been ripped back. It reminds me of the alien out of Men In Black 1 when he pulls his skin back on his head and says “is that better?”

    Ford Ranger I’m a big fan of though.

    Back to the Amarok… Well done VW, great car.

    • paulb

      Ranger kills BT50 in looks,Bt 50 still has the engine advantage over Amorak.

      • JESSE

        yeah but ranger interior is something out of a space odysey. like ford and mazda got together and said ok one of us has to have a crap interior and one a crap exterior…flip you for it.

      • Mmarkich

        just bought an amarok after test driving all of them and also have owned a d40 navara and i thought the ranger and bt50 were the most gutlesst of all of them. i dont know where they got there power figures from but the engine was dosile and slow revving and the gearbox was awfull as well. Out of all the trucks the navara and the amarok felt like they had the most power by far.

        • Tom

          You sir are a liar!!!

  • Aquahead

    I was with my brother in law a few months back for a bit of 4×4 fun, me in a standard PJ Ranger with A/T tyres down to 15% tread and he in a standard Triton with new H/T tyres and ESC. We found a difficult climb, slipery clay, dips and a bit of a chassis twist. I tried three times and just run out of traction each time. He tried 3 times and on the last attempt with the track pretty well torn up and now extremely slippey, he made it.

    It was impressive to watch the Triton’s ESC brake spinning wheels and divert the torque to the wheel that had traction. At one stage, one wheel was in the air by about 500mm and it quickly stopped spinning and the Triton started to move forward once again.

    I have no doubt that ESC will make all the 4×4’s just that little bit better in the tough stuff. But as we all know, it will also mean that when you do get stuck, you’ll be stuck a lot further in the muck than if you didn’t have it!

    Well done VW, lets hope the next contenders for 4×4 ute of the year, (Ranger and BT-50) also perform as well or better.

    • Sumodog

      I thought Amarok does not have low range …

      • Dazzler

        Did you read the article? Even if you just looked at the pictures you should have noticed the 4×4 Low button next to the gear shift

  • t39

    I was thinking about swapping my Tiguan for an Amarok, but oddly, Amarok’s curtain airbags do not cover the rear windows, so Amarok is not safe enough to swap to. Will wait for the new Ranger.

    • KD

      Amarok doesn’t need curtain airbags to achieve a 5 star safety rating, a rating that your Tiguan also has.

      Just goes to prove that airbags are not the be all and end all of safety.

      Perhaps you should go and check one out and educate yourself a little.

      • David

        “educate yourself a little”.. I’m afraid that it’s you KD that need education on this factor. Just take a trip to any hospital such as the Alfred in Melbourne and see what a lack of airbags does to a delicate brain in a crash. After spending time visiting a friend in the Alfred recently, I will never buy a car without them.
        I am dismayed that VW has put out a car without them, given their relative pride in everything safety!!

        • KD

          And yet it still gets a 5 Star ANCAP Rating

          • David

            I agree KD..!!! The system they have for ANCAP is a joke.. How can a car without these get 5 stars??

          • Autoholic

            It’s not a car, it’s a utility…which is safety rated differently to cars.

  • marko

    Just wondering why VW power figures are so low when compared to other 2.0l German diesels.BMW’s 2.0l twin turbo 150kw 400nm Mercedes 2.1l 150kw 500nm. With VW Dakar diesel racing and Sister Audi’s LeMans racing experience the motor could be better. Don’t even mention VW still putting old 103kw diesels in Tiguans and Golfs. VW put some serious diesel power into your vehicles as even the Koreans are out doing you.

    • Thema

      My Kia Sorento 2.2 4cyl Turbo Diesel pumps out 436Nm/143KW whilst averaging 7.5 to 8.0l/100km…Not bad for a 2 tonne AWD 7 Seater.

      • Reckless1

        So what – your 10% bigger engine puts out 9% more torque and uses more fuel.

    • Peter Stone

      Because its tuned as a commercial engine with a flatter torque curve for lugging loads, not a German saloon ripping up the autobahn…

      • http://mymaties.com VDub Fan

        Thanx Peter. Someone is educated…

  • GTI

    Marko, power isn’t everything. It’s an offroader, not a race car. Its more than capable off the beaten track and that is what really matters.

  • scatman

    We all know what thos will be like afer 50,000kms of abuse, buggered, VW elect gremlins and typical VW trait of falling apart after 2 years. Big repair bills
    Buy a Hilux, dependable and proven

    • Able


    • hugespud

      But are everywhere and boring. Not to mention poor clutches and injectors that don’t last.

    • Dave Roberts

      Well just as well the VW has a big warranty then! Oh, and should you want to provide me your email address I’ll glady scan through my 2007 Hilux repairs list so far which includes 2 new turbos, injector pump, clutch & alternator to name a few. This, after 88,000 ks of city driving.

      • Grinder

        Small engines are shit for large,heavy cars.
        Don’t matter how much power there got the engine is under too much strain.Added turbos put it under more stress.
        All these small engine large cars will be absolute piles of junk in 6 years,which will be avoided by anyone looking for reliabilty on a budget.

        • http://TATA Robert

          Correct. Take in mind the new European vehicles have a shelf life of 5-6yrs before they are discarded, unlike what happens in Australia. Emission regulation requiremens, servicing costs and the use of salt on roads, speeds up the deterioration of all modern European sourced vehicles.

      • f1worldchamp

        Oh but Dave, didn’t you know Toyota’s are ultra reliable!

  • Zane Yau

    Seems like a serious car for serious 4wd’ing. Unfortunately the new touareg only has an on road and offroad dial … Disappointing

    • http://internode.on.net Old Pete

      Which Touareg were you looking at?

    • KD

      If you want serious off road performance then go for the V6 TDI 4XMotion Touareg, which has low range

  • Car Fanatic

    Hahahaha, funny Scatman! Buy a Hilux? Google Hilux problems and see how many complaints about gearboxes and steering racks in 2009 and 2010 Models. They’d be luck to get to 50,000 K’s

    Buy the Amarok.

    • Golfschwein

      I’ve just done the Google search you suggested. Shocking stuff! Lots of problems generally, but injectors and dealers in denial seem to take the cake.

      • gazza

        What rubbish, ask a toyota technician if you want the truth about how good the hilux is,then ring a nissan or mitsubishi or mazda tech and they will tell you the problems they are facing! That’s if you can handle the truth!

        • Golfschwein

          But…but it MUST be true, because there are all these people on the internet saying so.

    • Dlr1

      The more vehicles you sell the greater the potential for faults to be more widely known. Keep in mind there is around 200,000 current model Hiluxes on the road in Australia. Nissan has sold far fewer D40 Navaras and their issues are far more widely known, no need to google that.

  • GG

    A genuine question – do people think the new Grand Cherokee would be able to tackle this terrain if it has the full 4WD pack?

    • Bean

      ha ha looks like all the armchair experts are lost for words

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1285962287 Declan Collins

    Next year, new Ranger, Colorado and updated Hilux. Going to be an interesting segment.

  • Karl Krankschaft

    That’s impressive offloading skills for a standard ute that’s still very civilized. My mates barely manage that in their lifted hiluxes with mud tyres. Saw one at MIMS last week very well built and interior was simple but nice. Gotta love German engineering

  • Mark

    Toyota hilux is the most reliable dual cab we can buy, sales number proves year after year!! No argue about this fact.
    Holden and Ford have so much advantages on this maket because they have long history building pickups for north america people, and upcoming new Ranger gonna prove their strong ability in these type of vechicles.

    VW is a new ute player not only in Australia but also everywhereelse around the world, so you have to consider possible design faults or discontinue making chance , which will lead a huge price cut on resale chance, not to mention it lacks an auto option( I know so many people here are manual only guys, but there are so many trades out there want a convenience city drive) Sales numble won’t be anywhere near close to outdated Hilux or even Mitsubishi Triton.
    I am not saying that I’m a VW hater because it’s Nazi heritage, but their car in Australia are way over priced, bad management of dealership service , expensive parts plus low resale value . Maybe it is indeed a good car, may be

    • gazza

      The Amarok will struggle in australia because of 5 fundamental reasons regardless of how good it is.

      1. Terrible VW service & warranty claims.
      2. Terrible VW resale values.
      3. No auto option.
      4. Overpriced. (It’s a VW not a HILUX)
      5. No heritage.(will they be as reliable as a hilux)

      • Golfschwein

        Wow, gazza, didn’t know about the terrible resale. What sort of figures can you quote?

        • gazza

          Get your head out of the sand,every motor vehicle wholesaler you talk to will tell you the same story from darwin to hobart “VW AS A BRAND HAVE TERRIBLE RESALE VALUE”

          • Dave Roberts

            errr, something tells me you are a very bored 14 year old who needs to find a hobby. Your dribble is comical.

          • Golfschwein

            Figures? Hmm?

          • Golfschwein

            Figures? Hmm? 😉

          • gazza

            Figures? Hmm? A couple of 14 year olds hmm? hmm? hmm? hmm? Figures!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          • laughter

            Gazza get ur head out of ur a$$

      • Blakie

        got a jetta diesel and its the best car I’ve ever had with no problems,thinking about getting a amarock and if your upset about no auto, learn how to drive a manual !!!!!!

    • KO

      and chasing a better girlfriend/wife can leave you all lonely or happier than ever.
      give me a break, if i wanted to buy a white goods hilux i would

      if i want something different ill take a punt

      just taking the “safe” option by default gets you absolutely nowhere in life

      VW can figure out how to make a ute, it’s a mighty fine effort for a first attempt

  • Octavian

    Mark, I agree with one part of your comment. The customer service of Volkswagen dealerships in Australia could improve somewhat. If VW are to sway potential buyers to their brand they will need to have excellent customer service.

  • paulb

    Just reading Fox news,will see on car advise some time today.Wed 13/7,Vw sales have gone really well in Russia+China.In June they are world number1.

  • RunFlat

    Looks good. Hows the leg room in the rear? Most dual cabs show very little interest in the rear passengers.

    • David

      RunFlat, we had one at a work site a few weeks back and the size in the back seat was just incredible. In the Hilux and Navara, the three blokes in the back were jammed in like sardines.. but they actually had room to spare in the Amarok. And yet it’s not a tank to drive and park when you get into town..

  • GTI

    Gazza – have you ever looked up second hand vw’s to see what the market is paying? Ever consulted redbook?

    Please don’t tell me that you haven’t, just because you claim some guy once said they didn’t have good resale. Look through the b.s. and see what the relevant industry professionals are saying.

    • Sumodog

      We have 2007 65k VW and were offered 24k trade in .. Not a great resale.

      • http://internode.on.net Old Pete

        Try selling it privately … also, depends on which model you have for sale. If it is the $29000 on the road model then 24k isn’t bad, is it!

  • Ben

    Would love to see a back to back view of this up against the up coming Ford Ranger, that would be a great comparo. Wonder how the Toyota mob are feeling about the next few months 😀

  • Phil

    So how did it compare on the off road section compared to the 10 other modified 4WDs you brought along?

    Why would having a automatic be “so much better”?

    • Devil’s Advocate

      If you have ever done “proper” 4WDing in sand or mud etc Phil you would understand that statement. It is to do with the fact that drive is not interupted when your speed changes like if you have to change gears up or down in a manual ie. an auto is better at keeping up momentum which is crucial in those environments.

      Also the article did indeed mention near the end that it managed to show up some of the 4WDs that were with them on the drive so yes, it compared quite well.

  • Seano

    This thing vs the new ranger is the review everyone wants on an off road!!!

  • Car Fanatic

    Hahahahaha, I bet none of the Hilux worshippers have sent Dave Roberts their email address.

    Why? Because Dave Roberts has documentation to prove Hilux’s are rubbish.

    Keep up the good work Dave.

    • Dlr1

      only proves his hilux is rubbish, does a holden with a similar list of issues prove the same for all holdens. or BMW. or mercedes?

  • hi luk

    A bloke at our footy club bought himself a brand new $60000 SR5 Hi lux. The auto sh#t itself, 1 month outside of warranty. Toyota didn’t wanna know about it. It cost him $8000 to repair it. Never again Toyota he says now.

  • Wd

    Judging by how good the vw transporters are (have owned many including the current model) this should be a good car. I think most people have formed their opinion of hiluxs off topgear. As a car they are average, off road they don’t hold a candle to real 4wds.

  • unbiased

    It is unbelievable how many people believe toyotas own advertising of unbreakable… Obviously a brilliant marketing department.

    I like the hilux, but is not the be all and end all.

    People need to remember that people buy utes for different reasons.

    In thailand, the biggest ute market in the world, the Dmax is the best seller and what they class as “unbreakable”. Go to parts of europe and the same is for the L200 (our Triton) where it sells like hot cakes and is classed as unbreakable.

    In the scheme of things the aussie market is a drop in the ocean.

    • KD

      The Hilux is far from unbreakable. Hell it can’t even tow in 5th gear because the gearbox isn’t strong enough and would blow itself to pieces.
      Hardly unbreakable.

      • bert

        What rubbish! dream on buddy! Do yourself a favor and drive out to the mines and see what they do with hilux’s and while your there ask them how the other makes far? Hilux is the only vehicle that will cop the ABUSE the mineing guys give them. UNBREAKABLE YOU BET!

        • Paulmc

          Dunno about that Bert, I used to be a fitter in the mines….& I can tell you that statement isn’t widespread !!! We’ve spent a fortune on the bastards…. Diesel pumps, steering, Gearboxes, Clutches, both diffs, Shall I continue !!!! The Hilux is close to the most uncomfortable ute I’ve been in !! Why not just give the Amarok time to prove itself. If it does, it does, if it doesn’t…then whinge. The Hilux has already reached it’s conclusion. They are an overpriced vehicle, selling, for the most part, by their name only.

  • R32driver x2

    Good ‘ol VEEWEE :) Always makes me smile to see they out-do everything both in and out of it’s class.

    Good on them 😀

  • http://amcd52@gmail.com Andrew McDonald

    Last year I went to buy a Passat wagon, the dealer service was terrible, bought a Mecedees instead, service fantastic – they even come 60k’s to home to pick up the car for service and leave a new merc for the day. 2 months ago I went to by a Golf GTI, different VW dealer same terrible service, now drive a new Clio RS 200 Cup. I am in the market for a 4X4 and it will be a new 3.2 ltr Ranber even if the VW was better.


    • bangel

      More stories from the fairies at the bottom of the garden , best of luck with the clio hope you got extended warranty .

    • Jake Williams

      Unless you’re in a remote area, maybe you should go to to a different dealer?


    You bought a Mercedes? You should have bought the magnificent Aurion. And then you bought a Clio? You should have bought the amazing Yaris.

    Haha, a Ford Ranger. The Hilux is far superior. It’s a Toyota and never breaksdown. My Hilux can fly, doubles as a submarine and my Yaris can launch off aircraft carriers. Toyotas are the most amazing products on earth. I even make love to my Hilux. I kicked my wife out and sold my kids to a Malaysian slave trader.

    I couldn’t be happier.

    • NICK

      lol agree 100 % toyotas are the way to go

      • KD

        You two must be on some super messed up drugs

        • Mick of FNQ

          Kd’s right – messed up drugs and all – you’d have to be on some pretty good gear to say that 19 million vehicles recalled (the biggest in automotive history) makes toyota the way to go???? What about the landcruiser being outwitted by the Disco – toyota v8’s being described as “crap” by one commentator – then what about the klugger rollover and the US prado equivalent having major suspension issues – morons have been brainwashed to think toyotas are invincible – they’re not – the japanese parent has just managed to hide recalls and quality issues way too well and for too long – hope they go belly up the arrogant tw#ts…

          • GET IT RIGHT!

            What a load of RUBBISH YOU HAVE ABSOLUTY NO IDEA WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT! Ford has had the largest number of recalls in automotive history 24.5 million,Toyotas v8 diesel has been hailed by everyone as the best v8 diesel around and the “wheels” driver that rolled the kluger cound not drive a stick in the ground and is an embarrassment to automotive jouralist’s,get your facts right before mouthing off AGAIN!!!!!!

    • bert

      WOW (copy cat) GAZZA not only can you immitate someone else but you love TOYOTA’s what a smart man!!!!!!!!

  • Dr Ivo Robotnik

    The funniest thing is that in the European market during the early 1990s, VW sold a rebadged Hilux called the Taro. It looks infinitely better than the Hilux (what clown decided to make it look blingy), and judging by VW’s track record, the interior would be so much nicer. It’s probably cheaper too.

  • Car Fanatic

    Have you read the ANCAP results at all? My guess is no. The Amarok scored a 16 out of 16 in the side impact test.


    I have driven this track many a time, and accompanied by other serious 4×4’s, and this is definetly no sunday drive, about as hard core as it gets – so well done VW and well done to CA for actually taking this thing to a PROPER offroad track!!!

  • http://www.iberica.ro/ seat iberica

    Thanks for the informations. I am impressed by the quality of information you provide. Keep up the good work!

  • apprentice

    do these come in a tray?

    • Paulmc

      No tray as far as I’m aware mate. I was told VW is keen for people to mod their vehicle, however, If you fit a tray to yours you’ll be asked to return it to the dealers for inpection…but all good !!!

      • Duncan

        vw are keen for people to mod?
        How about 3 inch suspension lift, at least 33 inch tyres, and a sports exhaust to give it a bit more poke?

  • maple leaf

    looks good, VW need to get this to Aus with a DSG.

  • Dragan

    Good Review but any one elso notice the support vehicles in the background are all Toyotas, just in case the “new comer” gets a little stuck.

    Nice truck, bit price heavy and still not sure of build quality coming from argentina….time will tell

    • Paulmc

      Where do you think the Hilux is made ???

  • Henry

    Nice But i dont see tradies buying these

    • zedster100


  • maximark

    I checked CA review session and the Hilux has neven been test driven then how could you quickly decide the Amarok is better than the hilux? I would take the Hilux over this Amarok anytime.

    • Blakie

      Well get one then!

  • Chris

    Some of the comments here are typical fan boy crap, VW owners have to be the worst of the lot. The end comments of this review were ridiculous, saying that it’s outright “better” than all it’s competitors. Once one of them has got a few hundred thousand km’s of working under their belts then you guys can brag.

  • Peter

    Great review, anybody who buys a hilux over this has got rocks in their head.
    The Amarok is the new king!

    • maximark

      ‘anybody who buys a hilux over this has got rocks in their head.
      The Amarok is the new king!’

      Have you ever owned or even driven one of these?

      • GET IT RIGHT!


  • Bob

    Just for a teeny weeny bit of balance for the fanboys out there, if you Google “VW golf problem” in Australia you’ll get about 3.7 million references. “Toyota Corolla problem” gets about 3.8 million hits. Seeing Toyota has sold at least 10 times as many Corollas, and over a much greater time (so there are more old ones) it would appear that there is no question about the respective quality of the brands.
    Amazingly, the Golf and Corolla are neck and neck when it comes to retained values as a percentage of new price over the last 10 years. Probably a result of Euro worship and the halo effect of other German brands such as BMW and Merc. The Amarok will have done extremely well if it can match the appeal of a Hilux on the used car market. Tradies are pretty demanding and actually use their vehicles hard and often. The slightest hint of unreliabilty will kill off the brand for that market. An “enthusiast” might accept a few problems as being a sign of character, but Tradies aren’t likely to be very understanding.

    • http://internode.on.net Old Pete

      Sorry, Bob, but Golf and Corolla sales are pretty much on a par. If, as you state, there are 10 times more Corollas than Golfs then Toyota would be very very happy indeed selling some 300 million of them!

  • http://www.thefundu.com Thefundu

    These offroaders are my favorites though they don’t look like a family car, but are some perfect thing.

  • bigmal


  • hi luk

    An auto for the Amarok is coming early next year, along with single and extra cab versions. The auto will NOT be a DSG, rather a full fluid, conventional type auto transmission. VW realise that DSG is not well suited to off road use. A good move, i think.

  • Fenno

    lets just see how they last after 60,000km. If they’re like any other VW, then it wont be pretty. Ask your dealer
    how much things like brakes and services cost as well.
    Might make you think twice.

    • 12HT

      Just had my 1986 HJ61 in for its last 5000km service not much change left from $2000. and it only got 200000.

      Just ask the average VDJ200R owner how they feel about resale and service costs when the vehicles are out of warranty. Or the tailshaft problems.

      For every horror story on a VW / Audi / BMW i am sure there are just as many on poverty pack toyotas.

      • 12HT

        Ohh and the toyota dealers also tell you to carry a litre of oil with you when you travel because of ?????

  • sup

    why so expensive? wish they made a similar version to a workmate

  • J.P.Jones

    it’s a brand new construction, the first pickup construed by Volkswagen. let the fools buy and test-drive it… :-)

    The text of all “reviews” of VW cars, by the way, comes from the Volkswagen PR-Department…

  • skitty

    For those interested in buying one read this.I have had my amarok for nearly 4 mths in that time I have travelled 16,000kms with a variety of conditions travelling round Aust 200ks on sand, gravel and heaps of corrugated roads. I towed a camper trailer weighing 15ookg acheiving 10litres/100k at around 95-100ks per hr in 6th gear. The Amarok is comfortable,quiet,good vision,seals very well on dusty roads and no rattles. The bad issues are the motor needs a chip to increase power,there is a anoying whistle thru the roof rack support tracks on top of the cab,gearbox is a little stiff as is the clutch (seems to grind when engaged).

    • July

      95-100k’s per hour in 6th gear, howling a light caravan.
      That is nothing special.
      Every other ordinary passenger car could have done that …

      • Duncan

        i dont think he meant it would only do that speed.. just that he was doing that speed when he did his fuel usage figures.. der.

      • On the wrong planet

        “95-100k’s per hour in 6th gear, howling a light caravan.
        That is nothing special.
        Every other ordinary passenger car could have done that …”
        Were you born in July ?, just gone

  • peter

    Oettinger do power chips for vw amaroks power up to 140kw and torque up to 450nm

  • A proper driver

    Now rant we all forgetting about the only real ute in the class that has an awesome decent engine, the V6 Turbo diesel Nissan navara, in terms of power the ranger and any of the new utes don’t hold a candle to them, 7 speed auto, Ive driven it and an amarok back to back and in I’m experience they were almost the same regarding fit and finish with the difference being the Navara felt like an SS commodore rather than a tractor, and the navara get decent flu economy, VW should bring there V6 diesel engine into the amarok to make it competitive, and ford should think about their new ranger’s engine cause 150kw isn’t much compared to 170 in the navara, and you can say I’m biased but I have owned 3 VW and currently own a turbo diesel VW passat 2009 model, best car in its segment by a country mile, I love it, but VW are not progressive enough with their engine for their cars, they have the means and the engines available but they choose not too

    • Nickhogan

      you just take that navara thru sand and watch it sink like a rock. I,ve lost count the amount of times i,ve had to skull drags the bloody things out

  • James Corez

    Look, cars SUV in Australia are ALL overpriced especially those above 25,000 dollars. You guys are really ripped off by a) the manufacturers / dealers b) the government. This SUV in North America would be about 28 grand max!. Even I notice NZ which has less population and smaller market, cars over there are cheaper (may only be slightly but cheaper nevertheless) than in OZ.

    • Uncle.

       James, you are so right, I’m presently living in Dubai, the cost of cars and SUV’s and Utes is about 45 to 50% less than Aussie land, you can buy a top of the range Holden V8 Comadore Lumina over here for about half the cost back home, 4×4 Ford F150 or Chev equivalent for about $38,000 AUD, how much is one of these in Aussie, going on over there, I would love to buy one here and take back but can’t as they are left hand drive and the new government laws make it hard to bring a vehicle back now its not funny. but no matter what way you look at it, we are getting ripped of big time in Aussie, go look at American sites and see how much they are, also check how much they are to buy in Thailand for the cars made there, so much for the free trade agreement.    

  • Ssangyong-Henry

    This i Underpowered…..Like the Ssangyong Actyon Sports Ute!

  • Bryan

    Looks great but sixty grand? That means that [if you buy the most expensive one] you will have to pay luxury car tax on your work ute…

    Are there any plans for an auto transmission in the future?

  • Alen

    I have read most of the comments and all i have to say is that you will never know what kind of a car/ute it really is until you drive one. I was the proud owner of a 2009 Hilux and to be honest the Amarok beats it hands down. I would never go back to a Hilux after driving the Amarok

  • Lez

    I don’t know why everyone is so anxsious for an auto Amarok it cost more, also you’ll loose touch with the terrain your climbing over, (you know be one with nature.) I like to know what my engine can do by feel not a reading a book or manual, what fun is that?

  • crusty

    there where no bad things to say about the amarok,but is a 2 litre powerfull enough for the aussie bush

  • http://bojan_grasko.com boki

    4e go zemam damam

  • jay

    sick of all people bagging hilux I work on cars for a living yes they all have problems but it is by far the best,vw shocking resale and you need to mortgage the house for servicing,we have a massive problem here in oz with tall poppy syndrome lots of car companies wont recall dangerous issues but toyota do because they would rather own up to the problem unlike ford mazda etc I deal with a lot of companies and the ones that went away from toyota over price etc are going back they have realised up front price is not the true cost and have had way fewer issues on reliabilty,quality etc.I am a holden fan from way back but have not owned one for a few years now as they are not the same as before.

  • Brett

    Went from a 08 SR5 to Ultimate Rock and couldn’t be happier. I’ve only owned Toyota’s in my 11 years of driving and love them. Unfortunately people are blinded by the ‘unbreakable’ attitude however, and these days it just isn’t so .. They are playing the old known safe and reliable card the name has. It’s nothing but a piece of crap… In that 3 years I had clutch problems, injector problems, tail shaft problems, a/c leaking in the car, turbo problems, airbag incident and a few other bits an pieces.

    It was uncomfy, below average fuel consumption, bad road noise and handling, not the greatest off road (not terrible however), not the greatest to tow with etc etc

    Resale was good..

    Loving the rock thus far, VERY comfortable, very fuel efficient, handles like a car, doesn’t feel like a old tractor, inside noise is quiet, tows brilliantly goes like gold off road, power is excellent out of this ‘small motor’.. I can overtake in 6th, literally!

    No problems yet (touch wood), long term reliability is unknown so i can’t understand why tyre kickers are forming such bad opinions. Most of you wouldn’t even have seen one In the flesh let alone driven one.

    Servicing appears to be a little more expensive than the lux (barely) but in saying that it has more kms between intervals .. Did you know that??

    Resale value?? Who knows! No one can see into the future, it’s a gamble I’m willing to take for a nice modern tough truck and it’s doing all the right things by me this far.

    If it turns out to be a dud I will bag it out, and I it doesn’t, i will be a loyal repeat customer. For a first attempt they have hit the ball out of the park and as I’ve said _this far_ has ticked all my boxes and living up to (and exceeding) my expectations.

    So to all you narrow minded baffoons who think you know it all, why don’t you have some factual information before slagging off. Or at least drive one first ??? possibly it’s a jealousy thing??

    If Toyota can one back with something better (style, features, safety, innititave) rather than depend on the name alone and slap up Thai produced junk, I would be interested again .

    That’s just my 2 bux worth! From a Toyota fan who loves his Amarok

  • jay

    all makes and models have problems I hAve worked on cars 20 years plus.One thing I can tell you is the VW will have bad resale electrics are known to be a problem with all euro makes the japs are just better at it, most injector problems with hilux and others are bad fuel believe it or not aus has crap diesel and common rails really don’t like it.Big mining companies use the hikux cause all in all they fare better than the rest BHP have been doing cost analysis on losts of different makes and models poor old hilux still comes out in front.VW Iis Argentinian built look at Navara thai built is far suoperior to Spanish built well documented.Toyota cop a lot cause their reputation is so good if some thing does go wrong they are instant trash.Toyota vehicles I have serviced namely hilux just had a 2008 with 195000 km;s on clock drove like new,operations manager from company told me 50000 Rodeo same age cost more in repairs and drove like it was worn,I don’t own Hilux just work on them and get feed back from owners.i work on every thing from vintage Jags TO Ferraris.People should listen to people who work on vehicles and not all the crap they read on the internet there are plenty of good models about as well as terrible ones too,all in all Toyota have it nailed good parts back up,dealer network,and most importantly reliability as a person that makes money from cars toyota is the company I make the least out of so in reality I would prefer you don’t buy one,our local RACQ is owned by a Mitsubishi dealership they drice mitsubishi work utes the service tell people at a breakdown should have bought a Toyota go figure.

    • New Owner of One

      I’ve had mine three days now, I’ll give yas my wrap up; 1./By far the best handling 4wd ute I’ve driven (driven most of them). Actually better than any true 4wd I’ve driven most.
      2./I’m not confident that the clutch is any good despite the articles opinion. Mine makes all sorts of random chinks and clunks during standard shifting (350km on clock now).
      3./Braking is flawless.
      4./Suspension is flawless.
      5./Even if the running gear completely packed up the rest of the vehicle warrants repair or replacement with something better.

      People who want to compare them with hiluxes shouldn’t bother, they are both great vehicles by todays standards.

  • Alexanderw501

    Why take your utes to a main dealer for service any good workshop can do it if they use genuine parts which will still be coverd by warranty.
    I saved 50% from my guy who is ex VW guy

  • Troidy

    I have owned my Amarok for nearly 4 weeks.  What a piece of shit it is.  numerous problems starting to arise in 1,400kms.  ready to sell it already.  

  • Granites59

    owned dual cab hiluxes right up to when they went to made in thailand pieces of shit….used to be exelent offroad vehicle even though somewhat under powered..as soon as current thai shitboxes came onto the market (and you can tell in the quality) i went to patrols cut and converted to dual cabs and stayed there for the last 8 years. Very expensive option as conversion is around 15 grand on top of new vehicle.
    Changed to trendline this year and it has been top of the line so far and the first production dual cab that i have seen in around 14 years that is worth pi$$ing on….Go the dubbbs

  • Geoff

    I own a Touareg with V6 and am looking at going into Amarok.

    An Amarok with Touareg motor would be a $80k ute.. Too expensive.
    The Treg is gold, but in reality there is not much difference in drive ability and as we live in Vic we cant cruise at 130kph..
    Treg has 130,000km on clock, they are reliable and don’t expect any less off Amarok, have not heard of them failing yet..

    The new Touareg does not have low ratio box as std anymore, so an Amarok is really a more cost effective way to keep the balance of on and off road in comfort IMHO… The motor appears to be doing very well… (I remember these same arguments when we purchased Treg).

  • Nick

    Im sorry to the VW fan boys but the reason there is so many horrible reports for a hilux is because there is so many of them on the road. the VW might be a great car i looked at one but after driving the new ranger for the same money the ranger wins hands down. the ranger has a single turbo on a 5 cylinder 3.2 litre therefor reducing the stress on the motor but the amarock has only a 2 litre with 2 turbos and only 4 cylinders. that is a hugh strain to put on a diesel workhorse. if VW put a 3.0 with the same outputs it would not put as much strain on the engine and would not scare off potential dual cab market buyers.(like Me) i love the confort and the cabin but that is becaue it is german and i dont think it will suit australia and there conditions. toyota aare very agricultural and after paying 92k for a GXL 200 series Diesel theonly thing that is good is the knowledge that if you are on a station you will get home.

  • Turbodewd

    Personally Id be supporting the Ford Ranger – Aussie engineered and designed.  Why not support your country?  Come 2013 I may well have a Ranger – yay!  :^)

  • Swandmmfinger

    Hi. We’re looking for a new dual cab tray back for farm work : need to put 1 ton Chep pallets on the tray, taking the kids along with us, and towing a horse float.
    The Mazda BT50s, or the Isuxu D-Max, both sound good … but wondering if they are worth the extra $10,000 over the Tritions??? (or maybe even Amarok?) Any suggestions??
    (We have always been Toyota people, but are over them. Too expensive, not enough features, out dated, problems witth electrics & suspension).
    Thanks for your help!

  • NICK

    Go the BT 50 great car towing everything the tritons are just a smaller ute. The bt50 is the best ute on the market

  • Joshua

    Just bought a 2013 Amarok highline with all the trimmings….. a very nice vehicle. I’ve only ever owned hilux 4×4 in the past, this is simply better and no, I’m not some city 4×4 moron who sprays mud on. We’re talking great dividing range in southern nsw. It may have cost me 60k but with 0% finance 3 year 100,000k warranty, 24hr roadside assist (not that I need it as I’m a mechanic) and fixed price servicing for 3 years….. do the math boys… it’s a great vehicle. And I might ad, the companies first stab at this market… ford, nissan, toyota, mitsubishi and the rest have had years to get it right and this vw comes along and knocks them on its debut??? Come on… where will the amarok be in as many years?… out with the old and in with the new I say.

    • RangerXLT

      The Amarok knocked all the dual cab utes, except the Ranger. I drove both a few days ago, an Ultimate and my XLT. The Ranger makes the VW feel like an underpowered boat. Not to mention the price tag on the VW: 65k for an ultimate without bluetooth.

Volkswagen Amarok Specs

Car Details
TDI340 (4x2)
2H MY12
Body Type
New Price
Private Sale
$18,260 - $20,750
Dealer Retail
$19,430 - $23,100
Dealer Trade
$14,400 - $16,600
Engine Specifications
Engine Type
Engine Size
Max. Torque
340Nm @  2000rpm
Max. Power
90kW @  3850rpm
Pwr:Wgt Ratio
Bore & Stroke
Compression Ratio
Valve Gear
Drivetrain Specifications
Drive Type
Final Drive Ratio
Fuel Specifications
Fuel Type
Fuel Tank Capacity
Fuel Consumption (Combined)
7.7L / 100km
Weight & Measurement
Kerb Weight
Gross Vehicle Weight
Not Provided
Ground Clearance
Towing Capacity
Brake:2800  Unbrake:750
Steering & Suspension
Steering Type
Turning Circle
Front Rim Size
Rear Rim Size
Front Tyres
205 R16
Rear Tyres
205 R16
Wheel Base
Front Track
Rear Track
Front Brakes
Rear Brakes
Front Suspension
Transverse link, Double wishbone, Coil Spring, Hydraulic double acting shock absorber, Anti roll bar
Rear Suspension
Leaf spring, Hydraulic double acting shock absorber, Anti roll bar
Standard Features
Automatic Air Con / Climate Control
Control & Handling
Electronic Brake Force Distribution, Electronic Stability Program, Hill Holder, Traction Control System
Power Steering
Engine & Transmission
Electronic Differential Lock
Radio CD with 2 Speakers
Power Mirrors
Cloth Trim, Power Windows
Dual Airbag Package, Anti-lock Braking, Head Airbags, Protective Glazing, Seatbelts - Pre-tensioners Front Seats, Side Front Air Bags
Central Locking Remote Control, Engine Immobiliser
Optional Features
Control & Handling
16 Inch Alloy Wheels
Cruise Control
Engine & Transmission
Diff Locks
Metallic Paint
Service Interval
12 months /  25,000 kms
36 months /  999,000 kms
VIN Plate Location
Front Driver Side Chassis
Country of Origin
United States Of America