The Amarok’s curriculum vitae looks very promising. On one hand, we have the rugged bits, such as the ladder chassis and the leaf-sprung rear suspension and on the other hand we’ve got a smart engine, which is a follower of the downsizing religion, as well two locking differentials, which unfortunately are optional (our test car wasn’t fitted with these goodies). However, there are also certain flaws in this tech story.
The vehicle manages to make good use of all these assets, mixing them in a way that allows it to serve its master well. How do you summarize that: a payload of 1,150 kg/2,535 lbs (this is reduced to 850 kg/1,870 lbs if you go for the comfort springs) and off-road abilities that suit a man better than a lumberjack shirt.
The vehicle also offers other aspects that don’t necessarily shine, but help it get the job done properly, such as the six-speed manual gearbox, which offers precise shifts and makes a good pair with the engine, as well the 280 mm (11 inches) ground clearance, which allows you to park it on dunes, if you want to.
Let’s start with the oil burner under the hood. VW engineers fitted the 2.0-liter unit with not one but two turbos, in order to reduce the lag. The target was achieved, as the engine doesn’t hesitate when you start asking questions, even at low rpm.
There is one area of the rev range where the engine stars to lose its muscle: in the upper part, where you’ll have to shift earlier than you would in other vehicles with similar mills.
However, the downsizing has also brought a down… side. 163 hp and 295 lb-ft (400 Nm) of torque is enough to move 4,300 lbs (around two tons) around, but this cocktail is at the limit of offering decent straight line performance. This engine is a good offer, but it would’ve better if VW allowed to choose a more potent unit.
The 4Motion part-time four-wheel-drive system, which is helped by a low gear, brings the expected “reactive” feeling, but manages to get the job done. However, if you are serious about taking the car off road, you should order the optional locking center and rear differential, features that were missing on our test car. Another thing that we wish we could’ve changed on the vehicle we tested was the total lack of underbody protection.
A feature that made us happy was the car’s “off road” button, which played with the setting of the Electronic Stability Control and the ABS in order to give the car more freedom for rough terrain driving.Continue reading
VW Amarok technical data summary
Engine: 1968 cc L4 Diesel
Dimensions: 206.8 in (5253 mm) length / 76.5 in (1943 mm) width / 72.2 in (1834 mm) height
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