Review: Volkswagen Amarok V6 580 4x4 dual-cab ute

By: Fraser Stronach

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  • Earthmovers & Exacavators

Volkswagen has slotted an even more powerful V6 turbo diesel into its Amarok ute. Fraser Stronach gives it a look over

2019-Volkswagen-Amarok-V6-580
The Amarok’s performance is down to having so much torque available over a wide range of engine speeds.

Buy-Utes


The new Amarok ‘580’ is so-called as its turbo-diesel V6 engine produces a mighty 580Nm of torque. With a sizzling 200kW of power also available (on overboost), it’s comfortably the most powerful of the mainstream utes currently available and offers the sort of performance you may expect from a sports car.

The ‘580’ engine is only available in the top-spec Amarok Ultimate model and comes with a hefty $71,990 (plus on-road costs) price tag. Other Amarok V6 models, right down the to new base-specification Core, have a less-powerful 550Nm version of this V6.

CLIMB ABOARD

As you’d expect from the price tag, the 580 feels more like a luxury car than ute inside with its white-stitched leather seats, which are heated up front, and have electric adjustment, including electric lumbar-support adjustment, for both driver and passenger. The driver also has the benefit of both reach and tilt steering wheel adjustment; something that’s missing on many of the popular utes. The 580’s cabin equipment also extends to sat-nav, a reversing camera and dual-zone climate control among its long list of standard feature. As with all Amaroks, the cabin is extra roomy (the widest in its class) and beautifully finished. Good room in the back seat too, where the extra width comes in handy if you need to accommodate three adults. There are no airbags in the rear of the 580 however, or any Amarok for that matter, which is unusual these days given the focus on safety.

PERFORMANCE

Not only does this tuned-up V6 make what’s a very healthy amount of torque, but is does so from a very low rpm. In fact, all 580Nm is on tap from as low as 1,400rpm and doesn’t diminish until 3,000rpm. Having so much torque available over such a wide range of engine speeds is in fact the secret behind the 580’s impressive performance and flexibility.

As mentioned, the 580’s peak power output is 200kW, which is available in third and fourth gears at 70 per cent of more throttle. This is the so-called ‘overboost’ output and is most useful for highway overtaking. Otherwise, the engine is rated to 190kW, but pedal-to-the-metal there’s never any sense of the engine going from normal to overboost operation; it’s all very seamless.

In general, driving the 580 is also effortless, smooth, quiet and refined. In fact, you would hardly know you’re driving a diesel. The eight-speed automatic, as well as helping with the engine’s responsiveness, is equally refined with shifts so seamless that you hardly know it’s changing gear. This is indeed a powertrain that would be as much at home in a performance-oriented luxury car as it is in a ute.

2019-Volkswagen-Amarok-V6-580
The cabin includes sat-nav, a reversing camera and dual-zone climate control amongst its features.

HANDLING AND RIDE

Getting all that power to the ground, especially when the road is wet or unsealed, or both, is helped by the 580’s full-time 4wd system, which, as the name suggests, is in operation all the time and can be used on any road surface.

Compared to the other popular utes the Amarok feels ‘glued’ to the road, a feeling that’s helped by the excellent suspension control, and accurate and responsive steering. The 580 not only goes like a sports car, but compared to other utes it handles like a sports car!

The unladen ride is still a bit hard at the rear, as you’d expect of a ute, and the 580’s low-profile 20-inch tyres also add a sharpness to the ride on rough roads that you don’t get with the taller profile tyres on the 17 and 18-inch wheels fitted to less flashy Amarok V6 models.

OFF ROAD

The low-profile 20-inch tyres also do the 580 no favours in any off-road situation, paddocks included, both in terms of ride and damage/puncture resistance, although one saving grace is that they are not notably high-speed-rated low-profile tyres, which are even more damage-prone off road. Better news is that the 17-inch or 18-inch wheels from the lower-spec 550 V6 models can be fitted to the 580 if your driving regime finds you regularly off sealed roads and you want a more practical and robust tyre.

The road-oriented tyres aside, the 580 is however somewhat of an off-road weapon even without dual-range gearing. Better off road in fact than most of the popular utes that do have high and low-range gearing.

What’s more, it’s brilliantly simple to drive. When going from on road (no matter what speed) to a tough off road challenge you don’t have to touch a lever, switch or button, as the 580 is always in 4wd; the eight-speed automatic and specially tweaked torque converter provide the equivalent of low range, while the centre differential automatically locks up if need be. All you need to do is point it where you want to go provided you watch the 500mm water wading depth, which is not as deep as most competitors.

LOAD AND TOW

Like all Amarok V6’s the 580 is rated to tow a class-leading 3,500kg thanks in part to its 6,000kg gross combined mass figure. But being the heaviest of the Amarok V6 models, it has the lightest payload, namely 836kg.

For the purpose of seeing how the 580 went with a load, we put 750kg in the tub and it hardly felt the weight. Not surprisingly, the engine didn’t raise a sweat and while the suspension sat down about 70mm at the rear axle the 580 didn’t feel nose-up or light in the steering, nor did the rear suspension bottom out on the bumps on country roads at normal open-road speeds.

Bonus points too for the Amarok is that it is the only one of the popular utes that will take a full-size pallet between the wheelarches of the factory tub. Why didn’t all the other ute manufacturers think of that? The fact that the tie-down hooks are where they should be, namely at bottom of the tub and not up high on the sides of the tub, also shows some clear thinking by the Amarok’s designers, as does the fitting of a work light above the tub and a 12-volt outlet in the tub.

2019-Volkswagen-Amarok-V6-580
The Amarok’s performance is down to having so much torque available over a wide range of engine specs.

OWNERSHIP

The 580 comes with a three-year, unlimited kilometre warranty and while service costs are on the high side compared to other popular utes, fixed-priced servicing is available on a plan. Volkswagen dealers in regional areas are also a bit thin on the ground and some independent workshops may not be as happy to take on an Amarok as they would be something like Toyota Hilux. On a more positive note, Amarok resale values are as strong as Hilux.

SUM UP

There is no doubt that the 580 is a very impressive bit of kit as combines performance, handing, functionality and working practicality like no other ute. It is, however, expensive and lacks some high-tech safety features like autonomous braking that’s available on Ford’s Ranger and Mercedes-Benz’s X-Class ute.

If you’re not too fussed about the extra performance that the V6 580 offers over the various V6 550 models – as the general driving experience is the same even if it’s not quite as urgent – there’s probably better value further down the range. The newly released 550 Core, which is stripped back to basics, is just $50,990 driveaway. Even the well-equipped 550 Highline is now $58,990 driveaway.

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4x4 ute megatest

2019 VOLKSWAGEN AMAROK V6 - PRICING*

TDI550 Core: $50,990

TDI550 Sportline: $53,990

TDI550 Highline: $58,990

TDI580 Ultimate: $71,990

*Driveaway prices except for Ultimate, which does not include on-road costs.

2019 VOLKSWAGEN AMAROK SPECS

Engine: 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel

Max power: 190kW* @ 3,250–4,500rpm

Max torque: 580Nm @ 1,400–3,000rpm

Gearbox: Eight-speed automatic

4X4 system: Single-range full-time construction seperate chassis

Front suspension: Independent/coil springs

Rear suspension: Live axle/leaf springs

Brakes: Discs front & rear

Wheel/tyre spec: 255/50R20 109H

Unladen weight: 2,244kg

GVM: 3,080kg

Payload: 836kg

Towing capacity: 3,500kg

GCM: 6,000kg

Overall length: 5,254mm

Width (inc. mirrors): 2,228mm

Height: 1,834mm

Wheelbase: 3,095mm

Track (F/R): 1,654mm/1,658mm

Turning circle: 12.95m

Ground clearance: 192mm

Fuel tank capacity: 80 litres

ADR fuel claim: 8.9 litres/100km

Test fuel use: 10.7 litres/100km

*200kW on overboost (see text)

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