Volkswagen Amarok long-term test

Are pick-ups the new SUVs? Our senior photographer is running our favourite truck, the Volkswagen Amarok, to find out if it could be a left-field alternative for new car buyers...

Volkswagen Amarok
  • The car: Volkswagen Amarok 3.0 V6 TDI 258 Highline auto
  • Run by: Will Williams, senior photographer
  • Why it’s here: To find out if living with a pick-up can truly be as easy as a mainstream rival
  • Needs to: Be comfortable, smooth-riding and economical on a colossal commute, with plenty of space for photography equipment

Price £42,857 Price as tested £47,040 Miles 11,876 Options fitted Palladium Grey/Titanium Black Vienna leather (no cost), Ravenna Blue metallic paint (£660), Discover Media navigation system (£684), Lights & Vision Pack (£222), differential lock (£306), front foglights (£90) Retailer-fit accessories Truckman Grand hardtop (£1910), plastic load liner (£311) Dealer price now £43,539 Private price now £28,778 Trade-in price £28,195 Test economy 27.5mpg  Official economy 33.6mpg Contract hire £710 Total running cost £2638.85 Insurance group 46 Average insurance quote £1117

20 May 2019 – Goodbye

When I first picked up the keys to the VW Amarok, I was intrigued by the prospect of discovering exactly what it’s like to use a whopping great big pick-up truck as a big-mile daily driver.

Practically from the first turn of the key in the ignition, I have adored my time with the Amarok, and so it takes a hard-won place on my list of all-time favourite cars, alongside illustrious company including the Chrysler 300C and Vauxhall Astra Tourer (no, really).

After four months, I have first-hand evidence that this pick-up can handle anything modern life can throw at it.

Apart from small car parks. It’s about as well suited to squeezing into a low-ceilinged multi-story as a bulldozer is to fixing a kitchen sink. The rear seat space was also a little smaller than a rival Ford Ranger, but passengers never complained. I do wish I’d gone for the optional lumbar support, though.

But really, there wasn’t much it couldn’t do. On the road and off it. The ride could be a bit choppy, but for a pick-up, it’s the best of the bunch by a long shot. I can really see why we name it the best you can buy. 

VW Amarok

True, the interior feels like that of a 10-year old Golf in terms of its design. But having Apple CarPlay brought the software bang up to date with the modern era. And if you look at the other trucks available, you can see Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen hasn’t been anywhere near those interiors, either. But the Amarok’s sturdy inside has stood the test of time amicably. It’s as tough as old boots, and that counts for more than Instagram likes.

The optional hardtop made it a lot more functional and is an absolute must for anyone running a VW Amarok not just for carrying logs around. The load bed liner is a definite must-have, too. 

But really, I just enjoyed driving it. The V6 diesel engine is an absolute monster. The fuel economy was okay; if I took it very gently, I could get it up to 30mpg. But the Amarok had a fair load in it most of the time (I’m talking about my photography gear, not me) and is very heavy anyway, so that’s to be expected. I could still get about 500 miles out of a tank.

It did guzzle down AdBlue like London Pride at the weekend, though. I gave it four top-ups in the end. It’s the first time I’ve driven anything with AdBlue over an extended period, but it’s still more than I was expecting.

Off-road, the Amarok was really great fun. The optional differential lock is totally worth it if you’re going off the beaten track regularly. It didn’t have a low-range gearbox, but thanks to hill descent control and a great eight-speed automatic gearbox, I never missed it. It had good ground clearance, too; the only annoying thing were the side sills. They didn’t really help me get inside the vehicle. They’re round, shiny metal and slippery even when it’s dry, so I’d never actually use them to get in and out – the only thing they were good for was getting my jeans filthy when they were muddy.

But for anyone on the fence about whether the VW Amarok can really stack up as an everyday family car – it absolutely can. And if anyone wants to run this as a company car and benefit from the brilliant flat tax rate that all light commercial vehicles are eligible for, it's a fantastic option.

Next: more from our long-term Volkswagen Amarok >

See more long-term test reports >

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