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 5859 Official economy 33.6mpg Test economy 26.3mpg 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 fog lights (£90) Retailer fit accessories Truckman Grand hardtop (£1910); Plastic load liner (£311)

15 February 2019 – Catch me if you can

You wouldn't necessarily associate a pick-up truck with exhilarating pace and pleasing handling, but that's exactly what I've been experiencing. I never thought that just one month in, I'd be this smitten with the VW Amarok.

Let me explain. First, the engine. The Amarok has opened up a can of straight-line whoop-ass on many more expensive, flashy cars, which has been thoroughly entertaining. It's essentially an elephant with the legs of Usain Bolt, and I love that.

Volkswagen Amarok engine

Okay, maybe I’m getting a bit carried away. This is no sports car, after all, but the numbers are very impressive. The Amarok weighs 2268kg, which is a lot – almost as much as two Ford Fiestas, in fact. But, thanks to its throbbing, torquey V6 diesel engine, it can manage 0-62mph in just 7.4sec. That's quicker than the Volkswagen Up GTI and most other warm hatches that you’d care to mention.

The body control is actually pretty good, too, by which I mean it doesn’t fall around all over the place around corners. There's a bit of body roll, but that's inevitable with a huge thing like this. For what it is, it handles really well. If it’s wet and the tyres are cold, you can rapidly become aware of its size, but it exceeds any expectations I previously had for how pick-ups might drive.

The steering has surprised me just as much. The Amarok uses a plain old hydraulic set-up, rather than the numb electric steering that pretty much every new car has these days, so it sends a really surprising amount of feedback through the wheel. It just feels so natural, with no artificial weighting to it, and I'm adamant that it steers better than so many things that come through the What Car? car park.

Volkswagen Amarok

My only real grumble is that the rear axle doesn’t ride as well as the front one. Being designed to carry heavy loads, the VW Amarok can be a bit bouncy when there’s nothing in the back, although this is less noticeable when you’re up to speed. When the old-fashioned leaf springs are rigid during the first few miles of a cold day, it can be quite unforgiving at low speeds, but then we can all be a bit slow to get going in the morning, can’t we?

Call me mad, but I’d even go so far as to say it’s rather rewarding to drive. I know, I know. But really, I feel like I'm already a fully converted pick-up fan. So, I'm pleased that I have a few months more to indulge in my newfound love.

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