Volkswagen NZ has officially launched it’s new Amarok ute into the competitive kiwi market and is ready to take on the big boys of the segment.
At a special event held for NZ’s motoring press, VW issued heavy-footed journalists an Amarok to test on a course of paved road, gravel road, beach and difficult off-road sections. The Amarok was impressive on every surface and was unbeaten by any obstacle. So should other ute makers be scared? You bet, the Amarok is competitive in every area and easily class-leading in some.
Amarok is the fifth model series by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles and the first ute by a high-volume European producer in New Zealand. Meaning “Wolf” in Inuit this ute is no wolf in sheepŸs clothing — the exterior design is based on the new Volkswagen “design DNA” with design features also found on the latest Golf and the new generations of the Transporter, Multivan, Caravelle and California.
The high performance Twin Turbo TDI 120kW Amarok produces a hefty 400Nm of torque, whereas the 90kW TDI delivers 340Nm of pulling power. All models offer diesel engines with a 6-speed manual transmissions. The optional 4Motion model gives shiftable all-wheel drive with high/ low gear ratio for almost every type of terrain, while the Amarok is equipped with rear wheel drive as standard. With the higher-spec Twin Turbo TDI models, two exhaust turbo chargers provide an impressive vehicle response at low revs and more powerful performance at high revs. Despite the high performance the Amarok has fuel consumption from just 7.3 litres per 100 km.
The Amarok is based on an internally developed rugged ladder frame. High-strength steel gives this chassis a high level of crash safety. De-coupling the cab from the frame results in optimal torsional resilience. This is especially advantageous for the AmarokŸs driving behaviour on rugged roads, providing extra strength especially in the area behind the passenger compartment. The ute box is also securely screwed to the ladder frame
The Amarok can handle a load of up to 1,142 kg and a trailer weight of 2,800kg. With a large loading deck that can handle 2.52 m and a through-loading width of 1,222 mm (the widest in its class) the Amarok is perfect for transporting just about anything, boasting the broadest load area in its category, enabling even a standard sized pallet to be loaded crosswise.
The Amarok has been awarded a Euro NCAP 4 rating and comes with a high level of standard safety features. It protects its occupants with a multiplex of airbags and on Highline models also includes head/thorax airbags which are still rare in the ute segment. Basic equipment includes three-point belts as well as height-adjustable head restraints at all outer seating positions. The outer rear seating positions are also prepped with Isofix receptacles for mounting suitable child seats.
Amarok also provides both on road and off-road ABS which can be activated at the touch of a button and has been specially developed for unpaved tracks. Added to this ESP prevents the vehicle from breaking away — this system is standard in the Amarok and ESP also takes information on the load status into consideration.
Even on gradients of up to 12% the Amarok can cope with the maximum trailer load of 2.8 tonnes. The hill start and hill descent assist helps in mountainous or hilly regions — with or without a trailer. It prevents the Amarok from rolling backwards on strong inclines and allows easy handling of the vehicle when pulling away uphill. Upon activation of the Off-road function, the assistant automatically brakes the vehicle to allow a safe and controlled descent. Additional safety when towing a trailer is given by trailer stabilisation. An electronic differential lock and emergency stop signal complete the standard safety equipment of the Amarok.
Interior and equipment
The Amarok interior has some high-end materials that can stand up to the demands of tough everyday use whilst also creating a sedan-like interior appearance. Height-adjustable front seats and nicely laid out controls guarantee an ergonomically friendly working area, while the variable folding rear bench provides additional cargo space.
The cruise control system in the Highline enhances driving comfort on long journeys, while the multi-function display offers trip computer information such as the distance to the next refuelling stop. The Amarok Double Cab includes a high-performance Climatic air-con system with electronic temperature control which is as much a part of its standard equipment as the RCD 210 CD-radio system with four loudspeakers mounted in the front of the interior. The Highline benefits from the RCD 310 CD-radio (with its large display and MP3 capability which offers a refined acoustic experience through its six factory installed loudspeakers) and the Climatronic two-zone automatic air conditioning, with separate temperature control for driver and front passenger. Also standard in the Amarok is a very useful 12v power outlet in the centre console with an additional 2 power outlets available in the Highline in the top of the dashboard and the side wall of the rear tray area.
The Amarok Double Cab will primarily appeal to commercial customers who essentially want their vehicle to be a reliable tool — i.e. tradespeople, farmers, landscapers, architects. The practicality of this model will not detract from its dynamic design — inside and out. Featuring body coloured front bumper, 16″ steel wheels and a black grained rear bumper with integrated step, the Amarok Double Cab offers that little bit extra at all times.
At the top of the new model series, the Amarok Highline combines especially high-end interior and exterior details. At first glance, the Highline sets itself apart by its distinctive flared wheel arches and 17″ alloy wheels. Chrome accents for the front bumper and the outside mirrors and dark tinted privacy glass in the rear highlight its style, as does the chrome-plated rear bumper.
NZ Specs and Pricing
“The arrival of the Amarok has been long-awaited and will be a game changer for Volkswagen New Zealand,” says Dean Sheed, General Manager of Volkswagen NZ. “We expect that the Amarok will surpass expectations and will challenge accepted ute standards. What might not be expected is the achievable entry level price point which means that Volkswagen now can cater not only for the ute market but for customers who may not previously have thought to look in VolkswagenŸs direction. The Amarok is a game changer, not just due to its re-defining existing ute standards but it also now means that Volkswagen has a car for every Kiwi”.
2WD TDI Amarok Double Cab – $43,000
2WD Twin Turbo TDI Amarok Double Cab Highline $49,500
4WD Twin Turbo TDI Amarok Double Cab – $56,000
4WD Twin Turbo TDI Amarok Double Cab Highline – $61,500
Check back for a full Car and SUV review of VW’s Amarok shortly.