Six-sational Amarok set to shake up NZ ute scene

Confirmation from Volkswagen that the facelifted Amarok will introduce a V6 turbodiesel that resets power and torque levels for the one-tonne category.


THE ute that some called puny for having the smallest capacity engine in the category is now set to deal out significant punishment to those sector rivals who scorned it.

That's the implication of VW having confirmed the Amarok is indeed to adopt the gruntiest, and sole six-cylinder, powerplant in a one-tonner. Volkswagen in Germany has announced overnight an engine update that will surely see the sales-leading Ford Ranger removed as the top dog offer here in respect to absolute cylinder count, power and torque.

VW New Zealand has yet to explain how it will position the 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel whose now confirmed introduction at the end of this year rates as the biggest single change incoming with a facelift of its six-year-old truck that will be in New Zealand in November.

However, there seems every likelihood that a brand which has always promoted its vehicle as being as good as anything else in the category on payload, deck size, design, feature content and comfort will now use the engine to cement its contention that it should be considered the class king going forward.

Adoption of a powerplant plucked from the Touareg sports utility is certainly good news for those ute buyers for whom the biggest power and torque figures have have always been considered the best to run with.

Ford has certainly acknowledged in the past that Ranger’s optimums of 147kW power and 470Nm torque – and its five cylinder count and 3.2-litre capacity – have driven its journey to class leadership over the Toyota Hilux, which in latest form continues with a 130kW and 450Nm (420Nm manual) 2.8-litre four-cylinder.

Both engines, however, are overshadowed on output by the VW unit. In its most powerful form, Amarok’s V6 churns out 165kW and 550Nm of torque. In addition to pummelling the market leaders, those outputs are also up markedly on the most powerful twin-turbo four-cylinder engine that the German machine currently offers, with 132kW and 420Nm.

While the V6 is also being produced in two less powerful formats – one with 150kW and the other making 120kW - these two, through being six cylinders, are likely going to fuel the type’s bragging rights in a fraternity that, with the exception of the five-cylinder Ford (and Mazda BT-50), are all four-cylinder contenders. Torque figures for the lower-spec Amarok engines have yet to be confirmed.

VW says the top-model V6 engine, which it has showcased in a new flagship variant called the Amarok Aventura, offers its maximum muscle at only 1500rpm, meaning it is “thus able to deliver sufficient propulsive power and torque performance in any situation”, while also allowing good economy.

According to VW, the 165kW model uses just 7.6 litres per 100 kilometres, and all engines are Euro 6-compliant, meaning they have stop-start technology, too.

The extra heft also allows for overall towing capacity to upgrade. Fitted with four-wheel drive, top spec models will be capable of pulling 3.5-tonnes, up from 3.2-tonnes of the existing version and so allowing Amarok to at last match the sector leaders.

The company has confirmed it will offer different drivetrains for different buyer requirements. The entry-level models will likely be offered with rear-wheel-drive and a six-speed manaul gearbox, while there will also be a 4Motion four-wheel-drive variant with a manual transmission and an engagable front axle, and a permanent all-wheel-drive version with eight-speed automatic gearbox.

VW is now also offering ‘Servotronic’ variable-ratio steering on the Amarok that supposedly makes it more precise, while larger brakes ensure a reduced stopping distance.

Exterior updates are limited to a revised front bumper, extra chrome on the front grille, smarter alloy wheel designs and darkened rear tail-lamps, while new ‘4MOTION’ decals and V6 badging feature. The options list has been extended further, with more styling bars, load covers and hardtops available.

VW promises a revised dashboard – though it has yet to provide photos - while the seats have been redesigned for a more ergonomic shape. Post-collision braking is now standard-fit, too.

Aventura, meantime, will be a limited-count launch special whose attractions include 20-inch rims, bi-xenon lamps and LED daytime running lights.

One last thing. If the V6’s output still doesn’t seem enough, VW has already signaled it has the ability to pump out even more, with a concept of the ute created for VW’s annual fan meeting at Worthersee, Germany.

The Volkswagen Amarok R-Style Concept features the same powertrain as the Aventura but the V6 has been boosted to make 200kW and a whopping 600Nm. VW claims the R-Style will race from standstill to 100 kmh in 7.9 seconds.

The R-Style also stands out by having a deeper, vented front apron, more pronounced wheel arches accommodating 21-inch anthracite alloy wheels shod with 295/35 and a carbon-fibre rear diffuser with dual exhaust ports is among the highlights.

Interior features include a carbon-fibre facia, bucket seats and a sports steering wheel. Like the exterior, the interior also features a GTI-inspired colour scheme replete with black and red piping.