First Drive: VW Amarok 180hp Automatic

Date: Friday, May 18, 2012

Since making its UK debut at the 2011 Commercial Vehicle Show, VW’s Amarok pick-up has attracted more than its fair share of plaudits.

Indeed, such was its impact that it prized the What Van? Pick-up of the Year award from the tenacious grip of Mitsubishi’s L200 at the first time of asking.
But the manufacturer is not resting on its laurels. From launch the Amarok has been available in double cab guise with 122hp and 163hp outputs with six-speed manual transmission, but in mid- summer, to coincide with the production of all the Amarok models destined for European markets switching to Hanover, Germany, from Argentina, where they are currently assembled, the UK will get the 180hp eight-speed auto version with permanent four-wheel drive.
Paul Vissian, VW’s product marketing manager, says the 180hp will replace the 163hp in both manual and automatic modes as it made more sense from a technical point of view to unify the line-up.
“We expect the 180hp with Bluemotion technology to have better fuel consumption than the 163hp,” he adds.
VW’s official fuel consumption figure for the eight-speed automatic is 37.0mpg with CO2 emissions of 199g/km. The uprated diesel engine brings an increase in torque of 20Nm to 420Nm.
Vissian says a single cab manual Amarok will also be introduced to the UK this year but will sell in small numbers, taking less than 10% of volume.
The eight-speed automatic 180hp Amarok with Bluemotion in the top Highline spec will cost £23,500 excluding VAT when it arrives on these shores, and on the road it is comfortable, classy and competent with ample power spread smoothly and evenly across the seamless eight-speed transmission.
Overtaking manoeuvres can be entered into with the confidence that there is ample acceleration on tap to get you safely back into lane. VW claims that acceleration between 50-74mph is achieved in 8.5 seconds, which tallies with our experience of the impressive performance.
When cornering the Amarok holds onto the road better than most, with none of the sponginess or wallowing that might be expected of an off-road truck taken out of its comfort zone. Back on the straight, the auto cruises along contentedly and quietly in eighth, which has been configured as
an overdrive gear with reduced engine speed to conserve fuel. An efficient stop/start system, regenerative braking and low rolling-resistance tyres all help to keep the Bluemotion technology auto’s consumption lower than that of the manual equivalent, according to Volkswagen.
The transmission comes with a Sport as well as a Drive setting to make on-road performance that bit keener, and the gearstick also includes a sequential shift if desired.
At low speeds, VW has configured first gear for off-road use or towing. With the auto, it has increased the Amarok’s load-towing capacity by 12% to 3.2 tonnes and the brand claims the model for the UK will have a payload capacity of at least one tonne – meaning it benefits from the tax advantages of a light commercial vehicle.
As expected the Amarok Highline’s cabin is tasteful and well-upholstered with leather seats and chrome embellishing the centre console, air inlets and steering wheel.
Sound is provided by a quality radio/CD player, which is MP3- compatible and comes with six speakers. Climatronic air- conditioning keeps occupants cool, while a quirk of the satellite navigation system in the vehicle we tested was that while the visual instructions were accurate, the voiced directions were not – perhaps something was lost in translation.

 

Verdict

The Amarok was introduced to favourable reviews in 2011 when VW returned to the pick-up market. With the arrival of the 180hp automatic, its fan club is set to grow. 



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