Volkswagen's Amarok tries to reinvent itself in second generation form. Jonathan Crouch takes a look.

Ten Second Review

As other brands leave the pick-up segment, Volkswagen reasserts its commitment to the sector with this second generation Amarok. Developed alongside the fourth generation Ford Ranger, this South African-built light truck aims to deliver the car-like quality feel customers will want, but with even greater practicality and off road capability.


Want a posh pick-up? Then this, on paper at least, is your best option, Volkswagen second generation Amarok. The original version launched in 2010, went on to sell 830,000 worldwide and is still in production in Argentina. This new one's rather different, built for VW by Ford in Pretoria, South Africa and designed in concert with arguably its closest rival, the Ford Ranger.

Wolfsburg wants us to know that it's still very Volkswagen though, with an image slightly up-market of that of the Ford, an arguably more car-like cabin and a lot of the drive assist tech features we've recently become used to seeing on VW cars. It should appeal to a wider market as well. Previously, people rarely considered an Amarok as an alternative to something like a Toyota Hilux. Now they might because in this form, it can tow more, carry more, go deeper through water and go further off road. Sounds promising.

Driving Experience

The Amarok shares some of its engines with the Ford Ranger - but not all. There are three powerplants on offer with seven different power outputs. Starting with the 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel offering either 148bhp or 228bhp in single turbo guise; or 201bhp or 207bhp in twin turbo form. Unusually for a pick-up, there's also a petrol alternative, a turbocharged 2.3-litre four-cylinder green pump-fuelled unit with 298bhp. The top-line alternative is a 3.0-litre V6 diesel, which can put out either to 237bhp or 247bhp. Four different gearboxes are available, with a choice of 5-speed or 6-speed manuals and 6-speed or 10-speed automatics.

Four-wheel drive is standard and there's a choice of two different 4MOTION systems. The most affordable one is a part-time setup with selectable all wheel drive that uses an electronic transfer box sending torque to the rear and front wheels as required. Serious off roaders though, will want the alternative permanent set-up, which uses a 2-speed electromechanical transfer case for added traction and has four modes for use on different services like tarmac, rocks and snow. On that subject, off-road ability is claimed to be much improved this time round. Fording depth, for instance, is up from 500 to 800mm.

Design and Build

There's certainly a more modern vibe with this MK2 model's higher set front-end, which features a slimline front grille and an X-shaped front bumper graphic. All of this is flanked by angular headlights that can optionally feature Volkswagen's IQ. Light and Matrix tech. Some markets will get a single cab version but as previously, sales will centre on the usual double cab body style. The side features black protective cladding and squared-off wheel arches. And the rear gets C-shaped LED lights and the Amarok name embossed across the tailgate.

Inside, the central infotainment screen's from Ford too, though it has VW graphics, gets physical buttons and can be had in 10 or 12-inch forms. Despite that, there is a very Volkswagen feel to the cabin; the brand has designed its own seats, steering wheel, gear lever and fascia switchgear: and very much dictated the look of the digital instrument cluster, available in 8 or 12-inch forms.

Market and Model

Expect prices to start at just above the £30,000 mark, just above a Hilux or a Ranger. But more likely in the £35,000-£45,000 bracket. UK sales will centre of course on the four-door double cab body style and there will be five different specifications: standard, 'Life', 'Style' and two top variants, 'Aventura' (which is aimed at on road customers) and 'Panamericana' (which is aimed at those who want to go off road). All versions get adaptive cruise control, dynamic road sign display, intelligent speed assist, Lane assist, rear parking sensors, a rear view reversing camera system and a front assist autonomous braking set-up.

Upper end models get the larger 12-inch size for the centre screen and instrument cluster. And feature niceties like 10-way powered front seat adjustment the Harmon Kardon sound system. Full-LED headlights are standard, but high specification variants come with the upgraded IQ. Light intelligent system which has a cornering function. Wheel sizes range between 18 and 21-inches depending on trim and of course there's a range of very desirable options. Things like a factory fit bulbar, underbody protection features, eye-rings for towing and even a snorkel attached to the A-pillar. Potential customers will also want to look at the electrically operated roll cover, which can be operated either from the cargo area or via a remote using the key fob. And of course you'll be able to specify a hardtop for the load bay too. There's also a newly developed bike-holder and what the brand calls a 'Multi-function Carrier' system.

Practicalities & Costs

One of the clever features of the original Amarok was the way that the rear shock absorbers were mounted outboard of the chassis rails to free up space and that's been carried forward here. Which is needed because despite this MK2 model's increase in overall length, the cargo bay, at 1,544mm, is 11mm narrower than before and, at 1,222mm, 16mm narrower between the wheel arches. It is slightly deeper though, at 529mm (up from 508mm).

That cargo area can swallow two Euro pallets and has redesigned eye-rings capable of handling up to 500kg of load. Payload has increased fractionally to 1.160kg, which is still very class competitive. The roof rack can now take loads of up to 350kg - which is 150kg more than before. And towing capability has risen to a maximum of 3,500kg.


And in summary? Well, this Volkswagen isn't going to be produced in global numbers high enough to threaten its Oriental rivals' world pick-up market dominance, but in terms of product excellence, it certainly should give them plenty to think about. At last in this sector, with a bit of help from Ford, Volkswagen has given the Far East something it can learn from.


CAR: Volkswagen Amarok pick-up

PRICES: from £30,000 [est] [ex VAT]

ENGINES: 2.0-litre diesel, 2.3-litre petrol and 3.0-litre diesel

MAXIMUM PAYLOAD: 1.2 tonnes {est}


STANDARD SAFETY FEATURES: ESP, ABS, Trailer Weave Detect, Suspension Load Levelling