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Long-term review

Volkswagen Amarok - long-term review

£55,440 / as tested £57,231 / PCM £599
Published: 07 May 2024

Life with a Volkswagen Amarok: the Jaffa cake of the car world

Look, I’m not saying I’m responsible for HMRC’s automotive tax policy, but you have to concede it’s a spooky coincidence. Just a few short months after I began questioning whether a double-cab pick-up might just be the ultimate family SUV, the UK’s favourite revenue and customs department decided it would no longer classify double-cabs as commercial vehicles, but instead… family SUVs, basically.

Yes, in February this year, HMRC announced that company car drivers who bought or leased a double-cab pick-up would see it reclassified as a personal vehicle, thus no longer qualifying for the flat rate of benefit-in-kind (BIK) payments charged to all CVs, regardless of size. Instead, double-cabs would be taxed on the emissions-based system applied to passenger cars. HMRC’s justification? That many double-cab owners were using their vehicles as family cars rather than mere business tools.

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For double-cabbists, this represented a brutal tax blow. The emissions of pretty much all pick-ups – including our Amarok – would see them fall into the highest BIK bracket, incurring thousands of pounds more in company car tax every year. Sorry, double-cab pick-up owners! I never meant for this to happen! I didn’t realise my powers!

But then, in a screeching U-turn worthy of Ken Block’s finest Gymkhana exploits, a mere week later HMRC announced it was scrapping the tax changes, and that double-cab pick-ups would ‘continue to be treated as goods vehicles rather than cars’.

Quite what caused HMRC’s handbrake 180 is unclear. The Farmers’ Union made their (less than upbeat) feelings on the matter quite clear, and if there’s one group of society you don’t want to upset, it’s the guys with pitchforks, shotguns and threshing machinery.

But you can sympathise with HMRC (never thought I’d write that sentence). Because in my experiences of the last few months, it’s clear the Amarok can be both a genuine commercial workhorse…and also a totally feasible (albeit heavy-duty) family SUV. It’s the Jaffa cake of the automotive world, by which I mean ‘very difficult to pigeonhole for tax purposes’, not ‘deliciously orangey’.

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But it’s still, officially, a commercial vehicle. As you were, all.

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