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Driven: Volkswagen Amarok V6 Aventura. Image by Volkswagen.

Driven: Volkswagen Amarok V6 Aventura
Volkswagen adds a V6 diesel to the Amarok pick-up. Much love ensues

 



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Volkswagen Amarok Aventura

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

Good points: Powerful V6 TDI engine, smooth driving manners, quality interior, pretty much everything

Not so good: Not cheap, needs roof lights...

Key Facts

Model tested: Volkswagen Amarok Aventura
Price: Amarok range starts from 32,539 including VAT; Aventura as tested from 39,381 including VAT
Engine: 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel
Transmission: 4Motion all-wheel drive, eight-speed automatic
Body style: four-door pick-up
CO2 emissions: 204g/km (240 flat LCV VED rate)
Combined economy: 36.2mpg
Top speed: 119mph
0-62mph: 8.0 seconds
Power: 224hp at 4,500rpm
Torque: 550Nm at 1,400- to 2,750rpm

Our view:

Volkswagen didn't need to do much to the Amarok, truth be told. When we last drove the pre-facelift version, in awesome (that's right: awesome) Canyon specification, we absolutely adored it. Seems the British public agrees too, because the Amarok is one of the best-selling trucks in the UK, with 2015 being one of its finest sales years yet. So quite how the German company could improve on its one-tonne pick-up formula was a mystery to us. Unless they did something daft and decided to slot a bigger engine into it, or something...

Praise be, then, as VW goes all 'Passat W8' on us and has a moment of utterly brilliant brain-fade, rationalising that what the already-pretty-juicy biturbo diesel Amarok needed was a honking great 3.0-litre V6 TDI. Actually, to be fair to Volkswagen, on paper this Aventura (a launch model with all the bells and whistles fitted, as well as some luscious Ravenna Blue paint) is actually cleaner than the old Canyon with the 180hp/420Nm 2.0-litre BiTDI; the V6 is claimed to do 36.2mpg with 204g/km, compared to the 34.4mpg and 215g/km of the preceding range-topper. So that's a positive, right there (even if we only saw 26.8mpg from the V6 during 150 miles of local roads driving).

But forget about the CO2 emissions - what Volkswagen has done here is imbued stonking pace on a pick-up. Making it, clearly, the coolest car in its segment and possibly even the coolest thing to fall under the wide-reaching catch-all terminology of 'SUV'. With a mammoth 224hp on tap all the time and 243hp on a time-limited overboost, plus a simply colossal 550Nm smeared across a wide low-revs torque band, this thing is quick. Like, seriously quick. It'll rip off 0-62mph in just eight seconds flat and, apparently, motor on to nearly 120mph where legal.

And, by crikey, does the Amarok V6 TDI feel every bit as potent as that in reality. Open the taps on the 3.0-litre V6 and the truck can surge past slower-moving traffic in the merest blink of an eye, overlaying its performance with a gravelly, gruff multi-cylinder roar that's properly grin-inducing. Good grief, we loved the Amarok before this, but now? It's in a league of its own, it really is.

Even better than that, the handling is pretty tidy and the steering, while a bit slack about the dead-ahead, feels meaty to operate. The brakes are good and positive, while that eight-speed auto is a peach; it's incredibly geared, mind, as you'll find the Amarok has shuffled itself into seventh by about 35mph if you're only using part of the throttle's travel.

Trying to keep some sort of objective critical appraisal going rather than this piece descending into fanboy eulogy, the V6 Volkswagen is not perfect. It costs almost 40,000 including VAT in this guise and no model is less than 30,000 for private buyers. A 'Startline' entry-level variant is on the way, supposedly, with a lower output and lacking the eight-speed automatic transmission of this car in favour of an old-school manual, but even that will be a lot more money than an entry-point Mitsubishi L200, Toyota Hilux or Nissan Navara.

While the Amarok's ride and handling are best-in-class stuff - even better than the Nissan, which has the most advanced rear suspension of anything in the sector - there is an odd lateral shimmy that presents itself when the VW goes through a pothole at low speeds. It feels like it's shaking its ass, for reasons best known to itself, but it's about the only time you'll remember you're not in a Touareg, rather than something which can carry a Euro pallet with little difficulty (but not a massive mirror, mind; that's another story...).

Then there's the interior, which is again the best you're going to get in this segment, yet not quite up to VW's passenger car standards. You'll notice the difference between the Amarok and a Tiguan if you clamber from one to the other in a showroom. The sat-nav screen is small at 6.33 inches and the dials in the cluster look like they were lifted from an early, base-spec Golf MkVI. But overall the Amarok is a very pleasant place to be, given that you sit so high that you're towering over Range Rovers, and there's enough space on board to convince yourself that five adults could sit within it. Also VW gave the Amarok more modern climate control dials and neater air vents during the facelift last year, which improves the cabin ambience notably.

We'd also say that the styling, moderately tarted-up with new daytime running lights at the front, is lovely, if a little safe. The Amarok makes its 19-inch Cantera alloys look ever so slightly small in the rear arches, and it would be better balanced out with the Chrome Pack that adds side bars and a silver frame in the load-bed area to bolster the visuals. It would appear, though, that the Canyon's magnificent four-light roof pod has been deleted from the Volkswagen's options list, which is a shame.

But we're picking the nits here. In short, unless you're vehemently opposed to a pick-up, there's nothing finer than an Amarok that's officially on sale in the UK. Dropping a V6 into its nose was nothing short of a work of genius, and the overall package, brilliant to begin with, has been suitably massaged by Volkswagen's midlife updates. It's also, like any VW, blessed with some neat touches, like the superb, lockable load-bay cover that's a breeze to use. One gripe: it's called Roll'N'Lock, although why they didn't call it Lock'N'Roll is completely beyond us.

Put simply, the Amarok is a brilliant machine. It is kept from a professional five-star rating because we happily admit we're possibly a bit too personally enamoured with it to separate our feelings from the purposes of reviewing it and, whatever way you cut it, 40,000 is a lot of money for a vehicle like this. Yet the Amarok is the benchmark for a newcomer that's going to shake this sector up - and the key reason why VW has gone for a V6 diesel, to target lifestyle buyers over and above tradesmen - the Mercedes-Benz X-Class. If the premium German is anything like as blindingly good as this V6 TDI Amarok, then pick-up fans like us are in for a very big treat indeed.

Alternatives:

Ford Ranger: Only other UK-sold pick-up that currently has more than four cylinders, if you specify Ford's 3.2-litre TDCi. It's a good truck but not as clever or economical as rivals.

Nissan Navara: Has the multilink rear suspension that gives it a great ride but the 2.3-litre engine lacks for some refinement. This is what the Mercedes pick-up will be based upon, too.

Toyota Hilux: Oldest name in the sector and latest Hilux feels as tough as it ever has done, even if it's relatively underpowered in this class now, with 150hp and 400Nm.


Matt Robinson - 21 Apr 2017









  www.volkswagen.co.uk    - Volkswagen road tests
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2017 Volkswagen Amarok V6 Aventura drive. Image by Volkswagen.2017 Volkswagen Amarok V6 Aventura drive. Image by Volkswagen.2017 Volkswagen Amarok V6 Aventura drive. Image by Volkswagen.2017 Volkswagen Amarok V6 Aventura drive. Image by Volkswagen.2017 Volkswagen Amarok V6 Aventura drive. Image by Volkswagen.

2017 Volkswagen Amarok V6 Aventura drive. Image by Volkswagen.2017 Volkswagen Amarok V6 Aventura drive. Image by Volkswagen.2017 Volkswagen Amarok V6 Aventura drive. Image by Volkswagen.2017 Volkswagen Amarok V6 Aventura drive. Image by Volkswagen.2017 Volkswagen Amarok V6 Aventura drive. Image by Volkswagen.








 

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