Volkswagen NZ general manager Tom Ruddenklau two years ago figured that the upgraded Amarok light truck would get a more powerful 2.0-litre diesel engine, rather than the 3.0-litre V6 industry observers liked.
The 2.0-litre in-line four had made its first appearance in NZ in July 2014 under the bonnet of the new Passat sedan and station wagon.
Ruddenklau reckoned it would be a natural fit for the Amarok’s mid-life makeover, thanks to its output of 176kW/500Nm, or 44kW and 80Nm more than the 132kW/420Nm twin-turbo four-cylinder in the current Amarok.
He said at the time: “I don’t know, I just have a gut feeling (about the 176kW engine). But one thing is for sure – VW won’t want to saddle the Amarok with more weight than is necessary.”
Obviously VW engineers have always believed Amarok could handle the weight of a V6 over the front axle, because the engine goes into the upgraded model, due here later in the year.
“I got that wrong, didn’t I,” Ruddenklau said this week. “I was acting on all the information that comes from the factory in Germany.”
The new-look Amarok comes with either the 165kW/550Nm V6 – detuned from the same capacity 180kW/550Nm unit in the SUV Touareg – or the current in-line 132kW/420Nm four. The more powerful 2.0-litre (176kW/500Nm) hasn’t found its way into the ute.
“No, Amarok won’t get the upgraded four-cylinder engine – that’s been made clear by the factory,” said Ruddenklau.
The VW V6 will be the gutsiest engine in the ute range in NZ, ahead of the Ford Ranger’s five-cylinder 3.2-litre diesel unit and its 147kW/470Nm.
The only other ute that would have bettered the Amarok’s output is the discontinued Nissan Navara STX 550. Its Renault-sourced 3.0-litre V6 diesel delivered 170kW/550Nm.
Amarok gets a crawler 4WD ratio, certainly adequate for most sticky surfaces but falling short of the ultra-low gearing needed for the real rough stuff.
The big VW’s advantage is its on-road manners – it’s clearly more car-like than its rivals, a distinction conceded by most of them.
The addition of the V6 isn’t the only change to the VW ute. The front end gets new styling; an updated steering system is said to improve handling; brakes get better stopping power; there’s more electronic safety gear; the dashboard is new; the seats offer better support.
Existing Amarok owners will get first dibs on the new model. “We’ll get a handful at the end of the year and the bulk of them will arrive in the New Year,” said Ruddenklau. No word on prices yet, on the V6 or the standard 2.0-litre.