4x4 Ute Comparison: Volkswagen Amarok Highline V6

Presented by
  • Earthmovers & Exacavators

Volkswagen’s long-serving Amarok gets a new – and potent – lease on life thanks to V6 power.

Volkswagen -Amarok -V6-ute -3

VOLKSWAGEN AMAROK HIGHLINE V6 PRICE*

Sportsline: $55,490**
Highline: $59,990*
Ultimate: $67,990*

*Prices do not include on-road costs.
**Drive-away until September 30.


Buy -Volkswagen -Button


The Amarok is the oldest ute here, save for the fact that it’s just been recently upgraded via its 3.0-litre V6 diesel. The basic platform actually dates back to 2010, so a year older than the Ranger the second oldest platform here. And while new to the Amarok, the V6 dates back to 2004, a VW family (Audi) design used in various Porsche, Audi and VW models but strengthened and detuned for use in the Amarok.

4x4 UTE COMPARISON
READ THE VERDICT HERE
READ THE FULL COMPARISON HERE


POWERTRAIN AND PERFORMANCE

Detuned as it may be compared to some applications where it produces up to 200kW, the Amarok’s V6 still has at least 165kW on tap and an extra 15kW (so 180kW) when in "over-boost" mode. Compare that to the 147kW of the Ranger and Colorado and the 130kW of the Hilux. Throw in the extra two ratios of its eight-speed automatic and you have a whole different world of performance than what’s on offer with the other three.

But the Amarok’s V6 isn’t all about its high power output, it’s also about being the torque champion with 550Nm available from just 1500rpm, bettering even the Ranger’s 470Nm at 1500km. On the road the Amarok out-grunts even the notably torquey Ranger off the bottom end, but also loves to rev and in doing so offers a level of flexibility and performance that’s unrivalled here. It’s really Amarok first, daylight second.

The Amarok’s V6 also offers refinement that’s more akin to that of a passenger-car engine when measured against the comparatively agricultural Ranger and gruff Colorado. Even the relatively polished Hilux engine feels "commercial" in comparison, although none of this should be a surprise given variants of this V6 are used in high-end prestige brands, notably Porsche.

And just in case you’re wondering about the overboost function’s 180kW, it’s achieved by the 550Nm torque maximum being available beyond the normal 2500rpm drop-down point, but only kicks with 70 per cent or more throttle and then only in third and fourth gears. Effectively it gives stronger highway overtaking performance without any sense of the engine ever transitioning from normal over-boost operation. It’s all totally seamless.

Seamless is also a word that comes to mind with the eight-speed automatic, which in this company is in a class of its own in terms of shift quality and is also sporty and pro-active in terms of shift timing.

 

Volkswagen -Amarok -V6-ute -2

ON-ROAD RIDE AND HANDLING

If the punchy, refined V6 and slick eight-speed automatic don’t stand the Amarok alone in this company, the grip, security and functionality of its full-time 4x4 system certainly does. In mixed-surface driving conditions (wet/dry bitumen or sealed/unsealed) it offers a huge advantage compared to the relatively crude part-time systems of the other three.

This comes on top of the fact that the Amarok’s on-road dynamics – even on dry bitumen – are a cut above the others here. It simply feels more confident and competent on a windy road, and also offers a relatively compliant ride and what is arguably the best front-to-rear suspension match when unladen. It’s also the best in terms of road noise suppression, although the Hilux comes close. If you’re looking to nitpick, then you could complain about the noise from the steering pump on or near full lock at parking speeds.

 

OFF ROAD

The Amarok V6 doesn’t have low range but doesn’t really need it. In fact even without low-range it can outperform the Colorado and is a match for the Ranger and Hilux on gnarly climbs and the like. Potentially towing a heavy off-road camper trailer in the steep going, or in soft sand, may be a problem but that’s something we need to test.

That aside the Amarok gets by without low-range thanks to a relatively low first gear and a torque convertor with what must be a high stall ratio. The Amarok’s off-road armoury includes a self-locking centre diff, a rear locker than doesn’t cancel the traction on the front axle when engaged, good wheel travel and excellent underbody protection.

Best of all the Amarok can go from zinging down a freeway to crawling along an off-road trail without having to touch a lever or a button as it’s always in 4WD and there’s no low-range to select. If you want there is a button to cancel the stability control (for sand driving), another for the rear locker (if it gets really gnarly) and a third to activate hill-descent, but much of the time none of this is needed.

On the negative side of the off-road ledger the Amarok has the lowest fording depth (500mm), as it’s the only one not to draw its engine-intake air from the inner mudguard, and as such is the first candidate for a snorkel in this lot.

 

Volkswagen -Amarok -V6-ute -4

CABIN, ACCOMMODATION AND SAFETY

There are a few important things to note about the Amarok’s cabin. It’s the widest here – especially handy for three adults across the back seat – and notably bigger than the Hilux and even the Colorado. It also offers tilt-and-reach steering wheel adjustment and a notably comfortable driving position. At this spec level, leather is however optional rather than standard as it is with the three other utes, but otherwise the Amarok’s cabin has a quality feel to it than the Colorado and Ranger can’t match it even if the Hilux can.

Significantly, it’s the only ute here without rear cabin airbags and while it still carries a five-star ANCAP rating it would probably only achieve four stars if tested now given these ratings are a moving target.

 

PRACTICALITIES AND TOWING

The Highline V6 is also the only ute here without some sort of tonneau cover and, like the Colorado, doesn’t come with a factory towbar. It also has the lowest braked-trailer tow rating (3000kg), although its 6000kg gross combined mass figure matches the best here. That means it can carry and tow at the same time as much as the Ranger or Colorado, the point being if you put a 3500kg tow-weight behind either a Ranger or a Colorado there’s effectively no payload left. While we haven’t tow tested the V6 you’d have to assume that its 550Nm would come in handy with big loads.

The Highline V6 comes standard with 18s and HTs but our test vehicle had dealer-fit OEM 17s with Pirelli Scorpion ATs. Not that the Scorpion is a particularly aggressive AT tyre but still better than a HT tyre. The extra sidewall height is another bonus.

 

Volkswagen -Amarok -V6-ute -5

WHAT YOU GET

The Highline V6, the mid-spec model in a three-model V6 line-up, has dual-zone climate, automatic headlights and wipers, sat-nav, reversing camera, six-speaker audio system, CD player, digital radio, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Bi-xenons, DRLs, cornering lights, a cargo-area light and 12V outlet in the tub, front and rear parking sensors, a rear locker, tyre-pressure monitoring and trailer-sway control are all standard too. Like all Amarok dual cabs the Highline V6 also has front and front-side airbags (but no airbags in the rear of the cab) and tilt-and-reach steering wheel adjustment. Our test vehicle is fitted with the optional Alcantara (split leather) heated seats, which adds $1890. It also has 17s with all-terrains rather than the standard 18s and their highway tyres, a dealer-fit price-on-application option.

 

4x4 UTE COMPARISON
READ THE VERDICT HERE
READ THE FULL COMPARISON HERE

 

VOLKSWAGEN AMAROK V6 PRICE*

Sportsline: $55,490**
Highline: $59,990*
Ultimate: $67,990*

*Prices do not include on-road costs.
**Drive-away until September 30.

 

VOLKSWAGEN AMAROK V6 HIGHLINE SPECS

ENGINE: 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel
MAX POWER: 165kW at 2500-4500rpm*
MAX TORQUE: 550Nm at 1500-2500rpm*
GEARBOX: Eight-speed automatic
4X4 SYSTEM: Single-range full-time
CRAWL RATIO: 17.4:1
CONSTRUCTION: Separate-chassis
FRONT SUSPENSION: Independent/coil springs
REAR SUSPENSION: Live axle/leaf springs
GROUND CLEARANCE CLAIM: 192 mm
APPROACH ANGLE: 28 degrees
RAMP-OVER ANGLE: 23 degrees
DEPARTURE ANGLE: 23.6 degrees
WADING DEPTH: 500mm
KERB WEIGHT: 2216kg
GVM: 3080kg
PAYLOAD: 864kg
TOWING CAPACITY: 3000kg
TOWBALL DOWNLOAD (MAX): 300kg
GCM: 6000kg
FUEL TANK CAPACITY: 80 litres
ADR FUEL CLAIM: 7.8 litres/100km
TEST FUEL USE: 12 litres/100km
TOURING RANGE: 617km**

* See text.

**Based on test fuel use, claimed fuel capacity and a 50km "safety" margin. 

 

Keep up to date on the industry by signing up to Trade Earthmover's free weekly newsletter. Be the first to know about new machines for sale.