The latest iteration of Volkswagen’s double cab pick-up was revealed worldwide in June 2016, marking a step change in the model’s history. With a refreshed external look, the new Amarok is now available with the much-anticipated new 3.0-litre V6 165kW TDI engine. Additional new features include an all-new interior and the latest in in-car infotainment systems as well as additional safety and technology elements.
The Amarok set new standards in the local LCV segment when it was introduced in September 2010.
The 3.0-litre V6 TDI engine is the only six-cylinder diesel engine in the segment. The top-of-the-range engine delivers 165kW of power that is available at 550 Nm of torque channelled through its standard eight-speed automatic gearbox. The V6 engine pushes the Amarok to a top speed of 193km/h and sprints from 0 to 100km/h in 8.0 seconds.
From the outside the new Amarok distinguishes itself from the previous model through a redesigned front bumper and radiator grille incorporating front fog lights, new alloy wheels and a third brake light with LED technology. Aligned with the latest Volkswagen DNA seen in the new Caddy, Transporter and forthcoming Crafter, horizontal lines dominate the front of the new model, with much cleaner-looking, angled folds and edges.
Inside the cab the changes are more prominent with an all-new dashboard design which incorporates Volkswagen’s modular infotainment system with touchscreen radio, App-Connect, Bluetooth and USB interface (iPod/IPhone compatible).
A comprehensive list of safety equipment comes as standard on every new Amarok, including four airbags, Electronic Stabilisation Programme and Volkswagen’s award-winning Automatic Post-Collision Braking System which can reduce the chance or severity of a secondary accident in the event of a collision.
The Trendline equipment trim level has been replaced with the Comfortline equipment trim level resulting in additional standard features. Highline Plus has been added to the model line-up for customers looking for additional top-end convenience and comfort standard features. Extreme replaces Ultimate as the main derivative in the Amarok model line-up. Extreme will be available with an option of 4MOTION automatic 2.0 BiTDI with 132kW or 3.0 TDI V6 with 165kW engine.
Under the skin, the Amarok’s running gear has not been fundamentally changed from the previous generation. The base derivative is the 2.0 TDI with 103kW with 6-speed manual transmission and an option of permanent 4MOTION four-wheel and two-wheel drive systems. Also carried over from the previous model is the tried and tested 2.0 BiTDi delivering 132kW. This engine is offered with 6-speed manual and 8-speed automatic transmissions. Customers have an option of the selectable 4MOTION on the derivatives with manual transmission and permanent 4MOTION four-wheel drive system on derivatives with automatic transmission.
The new model retains the previous Amarok’s dimensions: it measures 5.25m long, 2.23m wide and 1.83m high. Its load area continues to measure 2.52m2, meaning it can accommodate a Euro pallet sideways.
The new Amarok is expected to appeal to a similar profile of buyers, retaining its position as a technically advanced pick-up which is as comfortable to drive as it is rugged and capable over rough terrain. With its new engine and even more car-like features and cab, it is also likely to pique the interest of buyers who may previously have shopped in the classic SUV segment.
Since its launch in 2010, over 29 000 Amarok units (single and double cabs) have been sold in South Africa.
Engines, transmissions and drivetrain
The Amarok’s new 3.0-litre V6 engine gives the pick-up its biggest boost, not only in performance and endowing it with a unique position in the segment, but also in terms of emissions and fuel consumption.
The engine, with a cylinder angle of 90 degrees, was first used in the Audi A6 and A7 in 2014, and the latest ‘Generation II Evo’ as it is known, is especially robust. It has 24 valves and overhead camshafts.
Development objectives such as superior performance and greater ride comfort have also been implemented. An eight-speed automatic transmission in combination with permanent 4MOTION all-wheel drive is standard.
Thanks to a newly developed VGT turbocharger with flow-optimised turbine and adjustable vanes with less play, the engine promises smooth responsiveness under all load conditions and across the whole engine speed range.
As a result of a special cylinder bore honing process and a newly developed package of piston rings with less downforce (unique in the sector), the frictional losses inside the engine have been reduced by around ten per cent. An optimised cooling system with two separate circuits and thinner walls permits a shorter warm-up phase, which in turn saves fuel.
At higher speeds, the long top gears of the automatic transmission reduce the engine revs and lower fuel consumption.
The 3.0-litre V6 generates 165kW from 3 000 to 4 500 rpm and 550 Newton metres of torque from 1 400 to 1 750 rpm. With an overboost, the power output is increased to 180kW and torque to 580Nm for about 10 seconds. This is helpful when overtaking. The Amarok with V6 engine completes the zero to 100 km/h sprint in just 8.0 seconds and has a top speed of 193km/h. It has an average fuel consumption of 9.0 litres per 100 kilometres.
The new Amarok has a fuel tank capacity of 80 litres.
Depending on the engine power output, two different drive system variants are available: 4MOTION with rear-wheel drive and optionally engaged front axle combined with a six-speed manual transmission (103kW and 132kW); or 4MOTION with permanent all-wheel drive and Torsen differential with eight-speed automatic transmission (132kW and 165kW).
All three engine derivatives have an electronic differential lock (EDL) by automatic application of the brake, which prevents the wheels spinning on one side. Thanks to the EDL, the power from the drive system is always delivered to the wheel with the best traction.
Also available is a mechanical rear-axle differential lock for demanding off-road use. As a thoroughbred all-terrain vehicle which can tackle the toughest of challenges, the Amarok is naturally available with on-demand all-wheel drive. This widespread solution in the pick-up segment, with a transfer box and claw coupling, delivers power rigidly between the axles at the push of a button. An additional off-road gear reduction function for the six-speed gearbox models permits extreme crawling pace. This is helpful when navigating complicated passages off-road and when scaling particularly steep inclines of up to 100 per cent (slope angle of 45°), which the Amarok can master, even when fully loaded.
Without the application of this function, the Amarok uses permanent all-wheel drive when off-road. In all operating conditions, its central Torsen differential ensures optimum distribution of the engine performance between front and rear axles to guarantee excellent driving dynamics on the road and high levels of traction off-road. Under normal conditions this is a ratio of 40:60.
Under more demanding conditions, the power distribution may vary, depending on the surface. The permanent all-wheel drive in combination with the eight-speed automatic transmission can be coupled with the V6 TDI engine.
Depending on engine power, there is a choice of a six-speed manual transmission or the eight-speed automatic transmission, both optimised for the Amarok’s high torque values. The large number of gears allows a greater transmission ratio spread to be achieved compared to a conventional automatic transmission.
This has some very positive effects: thanks to smaller transmission jumps, the TDI engine works even more efficiently in every rpm range, as well as being more fuel efficient and agile. The eighth gear has been designed to have lower revs and thus be a low-noise and fuel-saving shift stage. First gear is configured for pulling away, for off-road use and when towing. With automatic transmission and permanent all-wheel drive, the Amarok thus becomes perfectly suited for rough terrain – without needing any additional reduction gearing.
With the right combination of engine, drive system and transmission, the Amarok is as home on-road as it is off-road.
It has impressive climbing ability with the optionally engaged all-wheel drive and differential lock and can scale 100 per cent inclines (slope angles of 45°) with a full load. The same applies to bumpy terrain: with slope clearance angles of 29° at the front and 24° at the rear, the Amarok scales steep inclines just as well as it copes with deep ditches, which – thanks to an off-road ground clearance angle of 23° – it negotiates with ease. It has a wading depth of up to half a metre.
If the Amarok’s external changes seem subtle, inside the cab there is no doubt that this is a new vehicle, and in spite of its rugged off-road credentials, the Amarok is a safe, comfortable and extremely car-like place to be.
Despite its size, getting into the Amarok is easy thanks to doors that swing open wide and grab handles, which help occupants climb into the cab.
Inside, the Amarok has the feel and ambience of a comfortable passenger car. The height-adjustable front seats feature sporty contoured side bolsters that have been optimised to provide maximum comfort and top ergonomic characteristics.
Doing away with round contours and concentrating on horizontal and vertical lines makes not only the front, but also the interior appear more striking and pronounced. Both make the Amarok more attractive as a pick-up and also increase the new vehicle’s appeal to customers who have been catered for by the traditional SUV segment in the past.
As is typical for Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, everything in the cockpit is in just the right place, with ergonomics and ease of use given top priority. Clearly laid-out and easy-to-read instruments, for example, provide information on speed and engine rpm. From Highline, fine chrome frames further underline the classy look and feel.
A glance at the instruments reveals a consistently horizontal design. This is due to the decorative lacquered strip that stretches from door to door and divides the dashboard into two sections. At the very top of the centre console, and thus directly in the driver’s field of vision is the infotainment system. Comfortline and Highline derivatives come standard with 6.33-inch ‘Composition Media’ radio system with touchscreen and capacitive colour display. Furthermore, the system has proximity sensor with the display that supports swipe gestures. The sound is channelled through six 20 watt loudspeakers in the front (4) and rear (2). Composition Media also has an SD card slot, USB port and AUX IN interface. On top of this, the App-Connect function makes it possible to forward selected smartphone apps and controls to the touchscreen display in the vehicle.
Highline Plus and Extreme derivatives are offered with 6.33-inch touchscreen ‘Discover Media’ satellite navigation system as standard.
Included with both ‘Composition Media’ and ‘Discover Media’ is a digital voice enhancement function. This electric voice amplification makes communicating during the journey easier. The hands-free microphone amplifies the voice signals so that the driver no longer has to turn to face the back-seat passengers or raise their voice. Passengers on the back seat hear the person’s voice amplified by the rear loudspeakers. This function can, however, also be deactivated.
Below the infotainment units are the controls for the heating and air conditioning systems (manual Climatic – Comfortline and automatic Climatronic – Highline and Extreme). Four large vents allow the ventilation to be adjusted to suit individual preferences. The angular jets, like the round instruments in the Highline and Extreme, are surrounded by elegant chrome frames, as is the case for the gear lever surround. The additional functions for the 4MOTION all-wheel drive and power transfer are located around the gear lever, where they are easy to reach and intuitive to use. This includes the ESP switch, the off-road function and the standard mechanical differential lock.
Storage and seating
Numerous storage compartments in the interior enhance the Amarok’s suitability for everyday use. They satisfy practically every requirement thanks to their well thought-out positioning and shape. For example, 1.5-litre bottles can be stored in the front door compartments, while those in the back doors can hold 1-litre bottles. There are two cup holders on the centre console and, depending on the specification, a further two in the rear.
There is also a storage bin under the padded armrest between the front seats. In addition to this, there is also a compartment under each of the front seats. There are 12-volt plug sockets and USB sockets for electrical accessories – depending on the trim level – in an easily accessible storage compartment on the instrument panel, behind the gear lever knob. From Highline and above, there are two additional sockets for back-seat passengers on the end of the centre console and one on the cargo bed.
The comfortable rear bench seat provides ample space for up to three people. The two outer seats each also have ISOFIX anchorage points for child seats. To provide additional storage space in the cabin, the seats can also be folded up, with a 1/3:2/3 split, and the backrest can also be folded down.
Comfortline and Highline derivatives are fitted with fabric seat covers. Highline Plus comes standard with Vienna leather seat covers. Special edition Nappa leather seat trim covers are standard in Extreme. Vienna leather is available as an option on Highline derivatives.
The Amarok’s cargo bed is 1.55 metres long and 1.62 metres wide, allowing a Euro pallet to be loaded transversely, unique in the Amarok segment. The cargo box has a loading area of 2.52 square metres and there are four lashing rings for securing the load fitted in each corner. The half-metre platform gate height boosts the good cargo capacity. This is due to the low sill height, an exemplary 0.78 metres. With a maximum gross weight of up to 3,080 kilograms, the Amarok is not only able to transport particularly bulky loads, but very heavy loads as well. The maximum payload is 936 kg (Comfortline 103kW) and – depending on the overall configuration – it can also tow loads of up to 3.3 tonnes.
The Amarok is based on a design that is typical of its segment, with the body, cargo bed, engine, gearbox and axles mounted on a central ladder frame. The specially developed ladder frame has an impressive, exemplary level of torsional rigidity, due to its closed longitudinal beam profiles and additional transverse beams with a closed cross-section. The latter are pushed through the longitudinal beams and welded into place, providing an optimum base for protection against torsional forces, and contributing to the Amarok’s robustness.
On top of its inherently safe structure, every new Amarok has a high level of safety equipment, starting with twin front and side airbags. Special sensors in the front of the vehicle and side of the body reliably trigger the protective devices in any scenario, including staggered impact. The telescopic steering column is designed to absorb energy, thus reducing the risk of injury to the driver in the event of an accident. Three-point safety belts, seatbelt pre-tensioner and height-adjustable head restraints are, of course, included as standard. In addition to this, the 165kW engine has disc brakes: 17-inch discs on the front axle and 16-inch discs on the rear axle, while the derivatives with 103kW and 132kW engines have 16-inch discs at the front and drum brakes at the rear.
The cab’s stability comes from the generously sized cross-sections of the A and C-pillars. The decoupling of the cab and frame also results in optimum torsional flexibility. This is particularly important for how the vehicle handles on rough terrain and for the level of noise inside the cab. The front axle consists of a double wishbone structure with cast pivot bearings. The long spring travel gives the Amarok very good off-road characteristics as well as allowing a high load-bearing capacity, optimum driving dynamics and driving comfort. Amarok has seven cross members along its ladder frame which is the most in the segment. This gives the Amarok the most rigid and robust chassis in the pick-up segment.
Automatic Post-Collision Braking system
A new standard feature in the Amarok is the Post-Collision Braking System combined with Electronic Stability Control, which also comes as standard. Nearly a quarter of all accidents involving injuries are collisions with more than one obstacle. Volkswagen’s multi-award-winning Post-Collision Braking System can help to avoid such follow-on collisions or to reduce their severity. Within the limitations of the system, Post-Collision Braking automatically applies the brakes after any collision, even before the driver is able to react. The severity of any subsequent accident can thus be reduced and, ideally, avoided. The driver is able to take back control of the vehicle at any time.
Electronic Trailer Stabilisation
Electronic Trailer Stabilisation is another sub-function of ESC. The system recognises any vehicle instability caused by a trailer being towed at excessive speed. As a result, the brakes are applied to individual wheels and the engine’s power output is reduced in order to stabilise the vehicle and trailer again. This allows up to 3,300 kg to be towed with maximum safety with a braked and 750 kg with an unbraked trailer with a tow bar load of up to 130 kg.
Hill Descent Assist
When driving on rough terrain, the engine management system with Hill Descent Assist ensures that the Amarok drives downhill in a controlled, safe manner by reducing engine speed and, if necessary, applying the brakes. Hill Descent Assist enables the Amarok to cope with extreme gradients safely and with ease. Taking the burden off the driver, it automatically keeps the vehicle’s speed at a constant walking pace. What’s more, new optional underbody protection ensures that if the front of the vehicle touches the ground, it simply slides over the obstacle.
Off road ABS
The off-road function can also be used to activate the off-road ABS: the braking distance is significantly shortened by the longer braking intervals than in normal mode on unpaved roads, as the ground material forms additional wedges in front of the wheels, and the Hill Hold Assist, which is also fitted, holds the vehicle when the foot brake is released to provide comfortable starting-off without rolling back.
Value and equipment
The new Amarok is available in four equipment trim levels namely Comfortline, Highline, Highline Plus and Extreme.
The standard features offered with the entry-level Amarok include ‘Kemisu’ fabric seats, Posadas 17-inch alloy wheels including striking wheel arch extensions, six airbags, electric windows, central locking, height-adjustable seats, rear window heating, ‘Composition Media’ radio, body-coloured door handles and side-mirror housings, a front spoiler and a single chrome bar on the radiator grille and fog lights, leather steering wheel and Climatic manual air conditioning system. There are additional storage compartments under the front seats to provide storage space for accessories. Ride comfort is enhanced, especially on long trips, by the cruise control system and the padded storage compartment cover, which doubles as a central armrest.
Optional features offered in Comfortline include multi-function steering wheel, electrically foldable, adjustable and heated side mirrors and Park Distance Control (front and rear).
Highline is the next equipment trim level in the new Amarok. Highline is aimed at customers looking for a vehicle in the broad SUV segment that combines maximum durability and robustness with the virtues of a traditional 4×4.
To achieve this, the Highline combines high-quality interior and exterior details with striking high-class features such as ‘Manaus’ 18-inch alloy wheels, partially chrome-plated wing mirror housings, chrome trim around the fog lights and the partially chrome-plated rear bumper. Smoked rear lights and LED number plate lighting continue this theme. The Highline also comes standard with four 12 V power sockets, one of which is located on the central console in the rear passenger compartment.
Inside, chrome trim forms the cowling of the gear lever in the central console, the edging of the air vents and parts of the multifunction steering wheel. Fully automatic Climatronic air conditioning is standard.
Highline derivatives can be customised with these optional features ‘Vienna’ leather seats, Park Distance Control (Front and Rear) with rear view camera, Light and Sight package with auto light and rain sensor, Bi-Xenon Headlights with LED daytime running lights as well as 17 or 19-inch alloy wheels.
Highline Plus equipment trim level adds ‘Vienna’ leather seat cover, Bi-Xenon Headlights with LED daytime running lights, Light and Sight package with auto light and rain sensor, rear view camera and ‘Discover Media’ satellite navigation system to the standard features of the Highline equipment trim level.
Highline Plus offers an option of 19-inch alloy wheels for customers that want to individualise their cars.
The top derivative in the range, Extreme is offered standard with a host of special features including ‘Talca’ 20-inch alloy wheel and arch extensions, ‘Discover Media’ satellite navigation system, Bi-Xenon Headlights with LED daytime running lights, and chrome sill bars with integrated LED lighting to illuminate the exit area. The Extreme also comes standard with Parking Distance Control (Front and Rear) with rear-view camera, featuring front and rear parking sensors and a reversing camera, ‘ergoComfort’ driver and passenger seats with 14-way adjustment as well as ‘Nappa leather seat trim covers. Extreme is available in exclusive Ravenna Blue metallic paint finish.
Extreme can be customised with Sports Bar in body colour as well as 19-inch alloy wheels.