The Amarok is designed to carry huge payloads (more than 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, you’ll be pretty underwhelmed when you hit the road.
The Amarok's sheer size and weight, combined with a wide turning circle, means it isn't the most agile thing in the world. That said, some rivals, such as the Nissan Navara, are even more cumbersome. There’s body roll even in gentle corners, but, again, less than in rivals. By pick-up standards, then, the Amarok is actually quite good to drive, and it rides well. Even so, be prepared for it to shudder and jolt over bumps, even on small 17in wheels.
As things stand, you have a choice between three 3.0-litre V6 diesel engines, with 161bhp, 201bhp and 254bhp. The latter two are remarkably punchy and smooth – a world away from the clattery diesel engines in many rivals. Just don't expect the same level of refinement you'd get from this engine in a regular car or SUV; it still has a relatively coarse edge when worked hard. Don't discount the 161bhp variant, either, because it can still get up to motorway speeds without too much hassle and is exceedingly flexible, pulling strongly from well below 2000rpm.
In fact, the only real issue with this lowest-powered version is the manual gearbox. It may be lighter in its action than some rivals', but it takes a slow and deliberate hand to get the best out of it. Much better is the smooth eight-speed automatic unit that's standard on the top-spec engine and available for the mid-range motor. Not only is it much more refined, but it also improves emissions and fuel economy.
There’s plenty of wind noise on the motorway, although it's actually reasonably civilised by commercial vehicle standards.