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Driven: Game-changing VW Amarok V6 arrives

Six appeal: Volkswagen expects new V6 variants to contribute to a five per cent sales volume uptick for the Amarok range in 2017.

Half of all Australian Volkswagen Amarok buyers expected to go for new V6 engine

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Volkswagen logo24 Nov 2016

By HAITHAM RAZAGUI

THE Volkswagen Amarok V6 diesel ute goes on sale today from $59,990 plus on-road costs for the Highline and $67,990 for the top-spec Ultimate, a $3000 increase over the outgoing four-cylinder TDI420 equivalents.

Despite the relatively high price point, Volkswagen expects six-cylinder variants to account for half of all Amaroks sold in Australia and contribute to a five per cent volume uptick for 2017.

From launch, both Amarok V6 variants are dual-cab with eight-speed automatic transmission and permanent all-wheel drive as standard, while a six-speed manual option with part-time four-wheel drive and low-range transfer case will provide a more affordable price point for the V6 from late next year.

Existing four-cylinder Amarok variants will continue to be sold alongside the V6 until refreshed versions become available in the first quarter of next year reflecting the interior, exterior and technological updates that debuted on the V6.

The subtle exterior styling refresh includes a new upper grille with twin chrome bars, honeycomb-look lower air intake and slim foglights. The sports bar now has a more integrated design.

A refreshed, more SUV-like interior has an all-new upper dashboard panel including slicker air vents and better-integrated dual-zone air-conditioning controls plus revised instruments.

Redesigned cloth upholstery on the Highline can be upgraded to Alcantara or Vienna leather and the Ultimate debuts plush Nappa leather in the ute segment, with 14-way electric adjustment for the ergonomically designed, heated front seats.

The upgraded Discover 6.3-inch touchscreen multimedia system features satellite navigation, DAB+ digital radio, voice recognition and smartphone integration with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Other technology updates include tyre pressure monitoring and multi-collision brake assist, which automatically applies the brakes to reduce speed to 10km/h after an airbag is deployed to help prevent the Amarok from rolling into other obstacles following a crash.

A reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors and new LED perimeter lighting built into the side steps, plus LED load area lighting are also standard.

However the Amarok still lacks curtain airbags and active safety aids available on the Ford Ranger and Holden Colorado such as blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, autonomous emergency braking and adaptive cruise control – with no sign of them appearing in future according to VW executives. Keyless entry and push-button start are also unavailable.

In addition to the new tech, standard equipment on the Highline comprises a multi-function trip computer, four 12-volt outlets including one in the tray, 18-inch alloy wheels, stainless steel sports bar and side steps, chrome exterior trim, bi-Xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights and front under-seat storage.

The Ultimate adds automated parking, paddle-shifters, 19-inch alloys, LED illuminated side steps, static front cornering lights a colour trip computer, alloy pedals, carpet mats and the Durabed spray-on ute-liner that first appeared on the Canyon special edition, but loses the under-seat storage.

A new Ravenna metallic blue paint option is exclusive to the Ultimate, while new Mojave beige and Iridium grey hues are available on both V6 variants.

Premium paint costs $590, with Alcantara heated seats at $1890 on the Highline and heated Vienna leather $2690. Dealer-fit 20-inch alloy wheels are also available along with a range of accessories including additional underbody protection, roof bars, rolling tonneau covers and canopies.

Australia gets the most potent Amarok V6 engine available globally, producing 165kW of peak power at 3000rpm and 550Nm of torque from 1500-2750rpm, setting a new segment benchmark by some margin.

It steals the title from Holden’s Colorado (147kW at 3000rpm and 500Nm at 2000rpm from 2.8 litres). Only the Nissan Navara develops peak torque from so low in the rev range, but its little 2.3-litre four is 120Nm shy of the big VW six.

It is capable of 0-100km/h in a claimed 7.9 seconds, with the official combined fuel consumption figure of 7.8 litres per 100 kilometres an improvement over the outgoing flagship 2.0-litre twin-turbo four-cylinder Amarok automatic (8.3L/100km)The fuel figure also puts the Amarok V6 close to class best, bettered only by much smaller four-cylinder engines in the Navara (7.0L/100km) and Mitsubishi Triton (7.6L/100km).

An overboost function ups power to 180kW for up to 10 seconds when the driver pushes the accelerator past 70 per cent of its travel, between 50km/h and 120km/h. Volkswagen claims overtaking acceleration from 80km/h to 120km/h takes just 5.5 seconds.

Keeping the extra punch in check are the segment’s biggest brakes, with 332mm front rotors and 300mm rear discs. For comparison the next-biggest front discs are on a Toyota HiLux at 319mm, while all other competitors – and the four-cylinder Amarok – have drum rear brakes.

The V6 engine does service in other Volkswagen Group products, such as the 200kW/600Nm Audi Q7, it produces significantly more power and torque, so the tune applied to the Amarok is relatively under-stressed.

Volkswagen Group Australia product marketing manager Nick Reid said the Amarok makes this V6 engine available in a sub-$80,000 vehicle for the first time.

Compared with passenger car applications, the Amarok engine has been modified to withstand tough off-road work, with extra oil capacity to provide additional low-speed cooling and a honeycomb baffle in the enlarged sump to maintain oil pressure when the vehicle is at extreme angles.

New pistons and cylinder liners have been developed for high-load, low-speed durability and the vibration damper is steel rather than aluminium for resistance to hard knocks.

Towing capacity remains at 3000kg – half a tonne shy of the segment leaders – but Volkswagen claims this is offset by a 6000kg gross combination mass (up from 5550kg in the four-cylinder) that enables the Amarok V6 to legally take an 800kg payload while towing to full capacity.

VW also claims the segment’s lowest load height at 708mm, which provides ease of use and a lower centre of gravity for better stability when laden, while the Amarok still has the biggest tray in its class with 1222mm between the wheelarches and a 2.52 square metre load area that can accommodate Euro, Australian and Chep pallets. Four standard tie-down points are located low, with an additional two optional.

The automatic Amarok V6 has a Torsen centre differential with a 60 per cent rear bias. Depending on conditions, up to 80 per cent of torque can be sent to the rear wheels, or 60 per cent can go to the front. Electronic stability control systems provide further traction aids, including an off-road mode that also modifies the anti-lock brake calibration for loose surfaces.

An electro-mechanical rear differential lock is also standard and VW claims the Amarok V6 can climb a 45-degree incline.

The eight-speed transmission has an extra-low first ratio that works with the torque converter to simulate low range, while the tall eighth ratio enables economical and relaxed low-rev cruising at higher speeds.

2017 Volkswagen Amarok V6 pricing*
Highline (a)$59,990
Ultimate (a)$67,990
*Excludes on-road costs

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