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Long-term review

Volkswagen Amarok - long-term review

£55,440 / as tested £57,231 / PCM £599
Published: 05 Jan 2024
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Pickup, trucked: our long-term Amarok has suffered a shunt

A neighbour of mine owns a vehicle I covet more than any other in the world. It is a Toyota Hilux single-cab of late-Nineties vintage, originally painted Tippex-white, a cool half-million miles on the clock, every inch of every panel gloriously dented.

Its owner works in forestry, and the Hilux’s deeply patinated (for which read ‘absolutely battered’) exterior speaks to a long career of trundling deep into the woods, loaded to the brim with heavy lumber and dangerous machinery. It’s a machine that instantly, visually, tells the story of its life: of quarter of a century of no-nonsense, uncomplaining hard labour. It smells awful. I adore it.

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All of which is by way of saying: I don’t mind a dented pick-up. But, in the case of TG’s Amarok, I wasn’t necessarily planning on those dents arriving quite so soon, or quite so… dentily. Yep, the big lad got shunted.

The crashficionados among you will doubtless recognise the indentation in the rear of the Amarok as the work of a MkVII VW Golf. Driving in the middle lane of the M4, I slowed for the traffic ahead, while the Golf directly behind me… didn’t. Turns out a large slab of blue metal is tough to miss in every sense.

It was a hefty bump that, as you can see, made a small mess of the rear of the Amarok. And a rather bigger mess of the front of the Golf. Which, at the very least, suggests the Amarok’s built tough: initial assessment reveals the damage to be cosmetic rather structural, which I suspect is more than can be said for the car behind.

Conclusions? I was going to write a silly thing about this clearly being a case of intra-family VW conflict, the old-timer Golf trying to exact revenge on the young, brawny Amarok upstart… but then decided not to (apart from that bit there), because car crashes – even small ones – are horrible.

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And then I was going to say, in the event of a collision, I’d certainly rather be in an Amarok than a Golf. But if everyone adopted that philosophy, we’d all be driving Amaroks, which would (a) be great for VW’s end-of-year profits, but (b) negate the benefit of being the one in an Amarok.

So, in conclusion… maybe let’s all just try and avoid having crashes?

Anyhow. When it’s not been getting all driven into, the Amarok has been performing sterling daily duty on the Top Gear fleet. No, I’ll admit it’s not quite so silky on the tarmac as a new Range Rover or XC90, but – once you’ve acclimatised to the sheer scale of it – it’s an easy thing to live with for day-to-day, non-forestry-related chores.

It’s a comfier companion on the road than, say, an old Defender, or even a new Ineos Grenadier, the steering surprisingly easy and accurate. Despite those aggressive tyres and giant wing mirrors, road noise and wind noise are impressively restrained at speed. The Harmon Kardon stereo is unexpectedly excellent. The only real clues to the Amarok’s agricultural heritage lie in the low-speed responses of that ten-speed auto ‘box, which doesn’t do the stop-start stuff quite so smoothly as your average modern petrol (or indeed electric) SUV.

But compared to the primitive pick-ups of a generation or two ago, no question this Amarok is refined, comfortable and relaxing. Apart from when you’re being shunted from behind by a Golf.

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