Heat. Dust. Extreme altitude. Unpaved slopes, winding serpentines, dead straight motorways. Mud, rubble and desert sand. We accompanied the Dakar Rally for several thousand kilometers in the brand new V W Amarok - series production of the new pickup in Buenos Aires had only started a few days earlier. With up to twelve hours a day in the car, this driving impression was a bit more intense than usual.
The VW Amarok is longer than a GL, wider than a Touareg
He is literally the biggest new launch at VW in recent years. The new VW Amarok
VW Amarok: interior with a car feel
The real surprise, however, is waiting in the interior, where everyone from Golf to VW T5 drivers immediately feels at home. Control elements, workmanship and accuracy of fit are at the level that the Wolfsburg customers require. The proximity to the commercial vehicle, however, reveals the hard plastic used for the dashboard, which is not foamed in a flattering manner. For this, depending on the equipment, you can hold on to a non-slip, sporty leather steering wheel, complete leather equipment up to the armrests is also available. The cockpit does without gimmicks. Speedometer, tachometer andThe central instrument is shared by a multi-display, on which the individual information from the on-board computer can be called up. Depending on the option, a radio or a large color navigation system can be found in the double duct between the fan nozzles. Very practical for use with retrofit navigation systems: there is a socket in the large shelf on the windshield, which minimizes the usual cable clutter.
Two all-wheel drive systems are available for the Amarok
With all-wheel drive systems, the customer has the choice. In general, the Amarok is available with a rigid all-wheel drive or permanent four-wheel drive. In the latter, a Haldex coupling is not used, as is the case with the VW Tiguan. Instead, the Audi Quattro solution is used for longitudinally installed engines and an all-wheel drive with a central Torsen differential is used for power distribution. Contrary to initial reports, this all-wheel drive will not be available with a reduction gear in Germany, and our test car was also free of reduction. Only the Amarok with all-wheel drive has an additional switchable off-road reduction. It has also not yet been decided whether the rear axle lock (installed in the test vehicle) will be standard or will cost an extra charge. For Germany there will be three different equipment options (Basis, Trendline, Highline).
The diesel engine of the VW Amarok goes boldly to the point
Concerns that the only two-liter engine is a bit out of place in this trumpet of cars are already being raised in city traffic the Argentine capital scattered. The four-cylinder grumbles pithily and goes boldly to work when the best place in the crowd is fought from traffic light to traffic light. The common rail engine is relatively sophisticated, but more clearly audible and noticeable than in other VW models with this engine. Even when it is warm, it is never really quiet. The power of the 163 hp diesel is also completely sufficient on the following motorway stretches.
The six-speed gearbox shifts comfortably with short, precise distances. Just as inconspicuous and serviceable: the steering. Both convey the feeling of being a car in a long van. The chassis of the permanent all-wheel drive is more comfortable, with 862 kilos it can load 185 kilos less than the add-on 4x4. The rear rigid axle with its leaf springs reacts surprisingly sensitively, even on bad stretches and slopes. The VW Amarok suspension is noticeably removed from sedan comfort, but it is not hard or even overly stubborn. On the contrary, the poorer the ground - we crossed the Chilean Atacama desert off-piste, among other things - the more comfortable the pickup seems to feel.
Plenty of space inside and on the bed
The VW Amarok offers space in every respect. Plenty at the front, adults also have enough knee space on the back seat, at best it is oneTrack mounted too deep. The loading area of our test car housed two spare wheels, three full spare canisters and all the luggage and camping equipment for three people. Everything disappeared under the lockable plastic cover, which will be available as factory accessories at the start of sales.
VW promises an average consumption of eight liters per 100 kilometers
Watched with particular suspense we the everyday consumption of the pickup. Because of the large, coarse off-road tires fitted, it should be higher than that of the German production car - and yet it was a surprise. On average, the VW consumed 9.5 liters during the tour. In addition to overland passages, this also included driving through town with stop-and-go traffic and extensive mountain tours, after all, we also crossed the Andes at an altitude of more than 4,700 meters in the VW Amarok. That may well be considered a minor sensation, especially since hardly more than eleven liters were pressed through the injection nozzles even when digging in the deep sand. The first test in Germany in late summer must show whether the promised eight-liter consumption can actually be achieved with standard tires in everyday life .
The price for the VW Amarok is still pending not fixed
Just as little as the final equipment scopes have so far been decided on the prices for the German market. However, they will be based on the competition. Our forecast: starting at around 28,000 euros for the basic Amarok with all-wheel drive, ending at around 38,000 euros for the Highline with permanent 4x4.
UPDATE: The prices have been up since April 9, 2010 known. As it turns out, we hit the bull's eye with our forecast. Click here for the Amarok Prices for 2010.