Volkswagen Amarok 2011 tdi340 (4x2)

Volkswagen Amarok First Steer Review

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Update: Volkswagen Amarok Review.

Volkswagen Amarok First Steer Review

Volkswagen has entered the one-tonne ute market with a model called Amarok. The Euro light-commercial market is dominated by vans and half-tonne utes, hence the German giant’s slowness in building a one-tonner.

Volkswagen invited us to the international launch of the Volkswagen Amarok in South Africa. That country being chosen as a venue because buyers there are even more interested in utes than are Aussies.

Driving conditions in South Africa are not unlike those we have in coastal Australia so the locations we used certainly made a lot of sense for the press introduction.

The Volkswagen Amarok is a large vehicle and the tray in the single-cab model is longer, wider and deeper than others in this class. It can carry standard Euro 1200x800 pallets sideways between the wheel arches, which will impress Australian users. We found the Amarok's load tray to be low and easy to use. But felt the tailgate to be rather heavy,

Power for all of the Amaroks we drove during the press launch came from a twin-turbo, 2.0-litre diesel producing an impressive 120 kilowatts of power and a big 400 Newton metres of torque. The latter torque peak is available from 1500 rpm and doesn't start to drop off until the engine reaches 2000 revs. So most users will spend almost all of their time with the engine in its most productive range.

We found the engine to have a little turbo lag, but the twin units spin at different times – with some overlap – and the lag is never irritating. The engine has a smooth, refined feel.

The gearbox shifts nicely and the forward six ratios worked neatly in the conditions where we tested. During our test program we found the engine to be more than happy to hold high gears in the six-speed manual gearbox.

At this stage there is no automatic option in the Amarok, principally because the Europeans don’t think an auto is necessary in a working vehicle. However, Volkswagen Australia is well aware that our drivers often buy this type of vehicle as a sports ute, so are pushing for a self-shifting transmission to be developed.

Amarok will be sold in both rear-wheel drive and four-wheel drive format, the latter using the 4Motion system that we have admired in other vehicles from the VW Group.

Single-cab and double-cab bodies are being built. All our test vehicles on this introductory drive program had the double cab. We are pleased to report it can carry five people in comfort due to the size of the Amarok.

Volkswagen would like to bring its Amarok to this country as soon as possible. It had hoped to get the first shipments into Australia before the end of 2010. Unfortunately that timing is looking doubtful due to the huge overseas demands for the long-awaited one-tonne vehicle. Nevertheless, considerable pressure is being put on VW's head office by the local people and we may still get Amarok this year.

Full specifications on models and mechanical makeup for Australian Amaroks won't be announced until closer to the launch. Car Advice will bring the information to you as soon as possible and we’ll also get hold of a vehicle to test and review in Australia.