WOULD you pay £5,000 more for a Volkswagen badge than a Ford badge?
I would. But let me explain.
In a world where there are fewer and fewer pickup truck models, a second generation of VW’s upscale Amarok truck was never a given.
In fact, far from it.
However, a collaboration with Ford and sharing the Ford Ranger’s platform, transmissions, engines and even production line made this possible.
And that’s a good thing in several ways.
It’s good that it offers us more choice, and it’s good that VW is basing its truck on such solid foundations as the Ranger.
But in the classic case of course horses, the corresponding entry-level Ford costs five thousand less than the VW.
So it’s not so much about what is the same, but more about what the difference is.
Externally, the entire body from the elbow down – if you hang it out of the window as intended – is tailor-made by VW.
It looks much less aggressive than a Ranger. Smarter.
And no tacky graffiti graphics on the side of the large, Euro-pallet-sized bed.
It’s nice inside.
Nicer than before and in my opinion nicer than the Ford.
Clean, modern lines contrast with a textured leather dashboard and touchpoints make this the most car-like pickup on the market.
It is also remarkably well soundproofed – it turns out to be quite quiet while driving for a large diesel truck.
This makes the most of the premium Harman Kardon sound system with subwoofer – available in the two range-topping Pan Americana and Aventura models – and a 12-inch touchscreen dominates the dashboard.
Unlike Ford, VW has opted for fewer physical buttons – perhaps not the smartest move given the stubborn, grubby fingers and cobbler’s thumbs that are supposed to be the primary users.
We tried the 3-liter V6, the most powerful of the three diesel engines you can choose from.
A torquey, creamy power delivery is available, befitting a beast of Amarok proportions, but accompanied by an efficiency that doesn’t particularly care about the rising price at the pumps.
Even extremely sensible driving in Eco mode resulted in an average of 23mpg, although this is easily offset by the generous 80 liter fuel tank, which means you don’t have to stop to refuel for at least 500 miles at a time.
Although the Amarok is the most distinguished model in the pickup world today, it is still no replacement for a five-seat, five-door all-round SUV for the whole family.
But honestly, there is no pickup and probably never will be.
It’s a work tool – and therefore a handy tax break for those who can claim it was purchased as such.
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It’s simply the smartest, most SUV-like piece of equipment on the yard, which also does everything it actually needs to do, right down to providing a three-pin UK plug in the cab.
And for that the VW gets my £5,000 (plus VAT).
VW AMAROK PANAMERICANA
engine: 3-liter V6 turbodiesel
0-62 mph: 8.8 sec
Performance: 240 HP, 600 Nm
Great speed: 112 miles per hour
Out of: Now