2014 VW Amarok Canyon review

New limited-run Canyon edition of VW's commercial pick-up comes with more than £8500 of extra kit.

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The VW Amarok is one of the most civilised pick-ups you can buy, and this new range-topping Canyon edition promises an even more cultured experience.

Based on the Trendline trim, the Canyon adds more than £8500 of luxuries to the popular Ford Ranger rival, including a six-inch colour touch-screen (featuring sat-nav and Bluetooth), heated leather seats, rear parking sensors, privacy glass and plenty of rugged styling upgrades too.

Production is limited to just 350 vehicles, with prices starting at £34,680 (£28,990 excluding VAT). The optional roof light bar (pictured) adds a further £1134. 

What’s the 2014 VW Amarok Canyon like to drive?

The Amarok is designed to carry huge payloads (up to a tonne) over rough and muddy terrain, and it fulfils that brief very well indeed. However, if you’ve driven any SUV built in the last 10 years then you’ll be pretty underwhelmed when you hit the road.

The Amarok’s sheer size and weight, combined with a large turning circle, mean it’s not the most agile of beasts. Its ride never really settles, either, and there’s plenty of body sway, even in gentle corners.

That said, by pick-up standards, the Amarok isn’t bad at all. It’s much better to drive than an Izuzu D-Max, for example, and even makes a Ford Ranger feel a bit agricultural.

Cheaper Amaroks are available with a choice of 2.0-litre diesel engines, but the Canyon gets the higher-powered (178bhp) unit as standard. It’s not the most flexible of engines, but keep the revs between 1700-3000rpm and it pulls strongly enough.

Refinement isn’t the Amarok’s strong suit, though; you feel lots of engine vibration through all the major controls, and there’s a loud lorry-like clatter from under the bonnet whenever you accelerate.

The gearbox is decidedly notchy, too, and you can hear the ‘clunk-clack’ of each gear engaging around town. There’s lots of wind noise on the motorway, although, again, by commercial vehicle standards the VW is actually reasonably civilised.

What’s the 2014 VW Amarok Canyon like inside?

Pick-ups tend to lead hard lives, so it's not surprising that the Amarok's interior is decked out with tough, wipe-clean plastics that are a world away from the plush, soft-touch materials you’ll find in most modern SUVs.

There are four doors and roof-mounted grab rails to help ease entry for up to five occupants and there's a decent amount of leg-, head- and elbowroom in the back, while that large glass area gives the cabin a light and airy feel.

It's a bit of a climb to haul yourself up into the driver's seat, but once you're in there's a decent range of seating and steering wheel adjustment to help you get comfortable. You probably won’t stay that way on long journeys, though, because the Amarok’s seats don’t offer much in the way of lower back support, and adjustable lumbar support isn’t available – even as an option.

There's a large central storage bin to hide items from prying eyes and decent-sized door pockets to accommodate flasks of tea. Further back, there's a drop-down tailgate and an exceptionally large loadbay, which is wide enough to allow a forklift truck to load a standard-size pallet sideways on.

The Canyon’s standard sat-nav is essentially the same touch-screen system you’ll find in a Passat. It’s reasonably simple to use, but is often sluggish to respond when you prod inputs on the display, which is frustrating when you’re trying to punch in an address.

Should I buy one?

That very much depends. If you’re hoping for a modern family SUV with an open load bay rather than a conventional boot, then absolutely not. The Amarok is a commercial vehicle, so falls well short of the comfort, refinement and safety standards of cars like the Mazda CX-5 or Hyundai Santa Fe.

If, on the other hand, you’re looking for something to lug around huge payload of building materials, that’s well equipped and actually quite good to drive compared with other pick-ups, the Amarok has plenty going for it. Just make sure you really want all the kit that comes as standard with this Canyon edition, because cheaper versions are just as capable. 

What Car? says...



Rivals:

Ford Ranger

Izuzu Rodeo

Specification
Engine size 2.0-litre diesel
Price from £34,680
Power 178bhp
Torque 295lb ft
0-62mph 11.0 seconds
Top speed 110mph
Fuel economy 34.4mpg
CO2 output 216g/km

 
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