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A posh pickup that pretty much nails the brief. Bigger and better than before, with fewer rivals too

Good stuff

Good to drive, brawny V6 engine, posh interior

Bad stuff

Pricey compared to the Ford Ranger it’s based on. Bring back proper buttons!

Overview

What is it?

It’s the new Volkswagen Amarok, if that wasn’t abundantly clear from the in-yer-face VW grille and the giant AMAROK lettering across the tailgate. The first-generation arrived in 2010 and saw off a fair bit of competition in the posh pickup truck market (we’re looking at you in particular, Mercedes X-Class) before it was eventually retired on our shores in May 2020.

For a while it looked like the difficult second album might never happen, but then word of a deal between Volkswagen and Ford emerged, and as a result we now have a second-generation Amarok that’s essentially a Ford Ranger underneath. Heck, it’s even built on the same line as the Ranger in Ford’s Silverton Assembly Plant in Pretoria, South Africa.

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What does that mean for the bits underneath?

Well, if you’re well versed on the spec sheet of the new Ranger, you won’t find many surprises here. Although, VW does only offer the shared diesel engines for the Amarok in the UK – a 2.3-litre turbocharged petrol V6 is available elsewhere in the world, while the special Ranger Raptor can now be had with a 3.0-litre twin-turbo petrol V6 over here.

Anyway, you can have an Amarok with a 2.0-litre turbodiesel four-cylinder or a 3.0-litre turbodiesel V6. Both come in various states of tune with a number of different power outputs (you’ll find everything in full detail over on the Driving tab of this review) but essentially the slowest VW pickup gets 168bhp and 299lb ft of torque, while the fastest gets 237bhp and 443lb ft.

What about gearboxes?

There are two to choose from, although you can only pair the six-speed manual with the 2.0-litre four-pot in its weakest 168bhp tune. And you can only have that powertrain with the entry-level Life trim. All other engine options and trim levels use a 10-speed auto ‘box.

And what are the other trim levels?

Good question. As mentioned, Life is the entry to the Amarok range. That includes 17-inch alloy wheels, LED lights and a slightly smaller infotainment screen than the rest of the range. Above that is the Style trim which adds things like matrix LED headlights and wireless phone charging, before the off-road-spec PanAmericana edition and the range-topping Aventura with its chrome accents and massive 21-inch wheels.

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Wait, how much do they all cost?

Prices in the UK start at £34,055 excluding VAT, because this is a commercial vehicle and many people will be buying through a business. Style trim kicks off at £42,505 exc VAT, while the PanAmericana is £47,255 and the Aventura is £48,055 (both also without tax added on).

If you’re buying as a non-commercial customer and paying VAT, the top spec Aventura will set you back £57,591. Sounds like a lot of money, but in a world where an entry-level Touareg is around £60k you can see why lots of people prefer posh pickups over SUVs.

Surely there are some more impressive numbers to get my attention, too?

Of course there are. We’ll start with the dimensions, because now that it’s based on the Ranger, the Amarok is a fair bit bigger than its previous generation. In fact, it’s 96mm longer with a wheelbase that’s 173mm longer. That means slightly shorter overhangs for better off-roading, and crucially the bed is wide enough to fit a Euro pallet loaded sideways. Oh, and all Amaroks come in double cab form with five seats. 

In terms of weights, the Amarok can tow up to 3,500kg and take a payload of up to 1,113kg. Plus it gets a wading depth of 800mm, which is up from the previous gen’s 500mm.

Final number: VW says that the Amarok gets ‘more than 20’ new driver assistance systems compared to the old truck. We’ll let you decide whether that’s a positive or not…

What's the verdict?

The Amarok's good to drive and should be fairly easy to live with. As long as you live somewhere with wide roads, that is

The second-gen Amarok nails its repeat brief – to be a car-like posh pickup. That does mean it falls down in some areas (it’s pricey, and bring back the physical buttons!) but it also means it’s good to drive and should be fairly easy to live with. As long as you live somewhere with wide roads, that is.

Go for the turbodiesel V6 and you’ll get a super strong powertrain too. The auto gearbox is slick enough and there’s more than enough torque to tow, carry and off-road – perhaps even all three at the same time. Plus, you’ll be able to do all of that while sitting in a leather-filled cabin listening to a Harman Kardon stereo.

The Rivals

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