Review: Volkswagen Amarok (2011)
Impressive on road and easy to drive off road, refined, six-speed transmission with low range. Vastly improved V6 TDI from 2016 can tow 3.2 tonnes and has outstanding AWD system.
Original 2.0 TDI has low CO2 and is reasonably economical but not really strong enough for tough work.
Recently Added To This Review
Report of vibration from 2015 VW Amarok Highline 4Motion DC 8-speed auto at 58,000 miles. 6 months after warranty expired, vibration developed that can be felt on the steering wheel. Dealer diagnosed... Read more
Report of DPF continually getting blocked on leased 2017 Amarok, severely constraining performance. First reported January 2018. AA treated several times and taken to the Dealer October 2018. They advised... Read more
Report of 8-speed automatic transmission failure on 2015 Amarok 2.0TDI at 15,000 miles. Volkswagen Customer Care paid 65% of replacement cost. Nothing from supplying dealer. Read more
Volkswagen Amarok (2011): At A Glance
- On average it achieves 83% of the official MPG figure
Volkswagen isn't a make you'd associate with the traditionally rough and ready pick-up truck. It's a market that's dominated by Japanese brands such as Mitsubishi and Toyota whose reliability and tough build quality has made them favourites among plenty of owners. Volkswagen hasn't been deterred though.
It leads the way for commercial vehicles in Europe with models like the Transporter and Caddy, so the Amarok is a logical step.
It may not have the tough image of the Toyota Hilux but the Amarok majors on comfort and refinement. It's very quiet on the move, rides well and has a comfortable interior with a quality finish that's on par with Volkswagen's car range. It's very easy to forget you're in a pick-up truck and inside it's a cut above most of the competition.
At launch the Amarok was offered with a choice of 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel engines. Designed for efficiency the common rail unit is quiet and pulls well enough thanks to 340Nm of torque in the standard version (the BiTDI has 400Nm) but it doesn't quite feel strong enough compared to some of its rivals.
In 2016 Volkswagen replaced the 2.0-litre turbodiesels with a 3.0-litre V6. Smooth, powerful and quiet, the V6 gives the Amarok the punch it was lacking with the older four-cylinder units. The 3.0-litre is offered in 204PS and 224PS (240PS with overboost). Early 2018 would see VW add a 258PS version of the V6 engine, it featuring an overboost function for 272PS for short periods under heavy engine loadings.
It has a good sized load space though with 2.5 square metres and a length of more than 1.5 metres so it can carry a Euro pallet sideways. The maximum payload is in excess of one tonne in the majority of models. It's well equipped too with even the standard model getting 16-inch alloy wheels, 4MOTION Selectable four-wheel drive, electric front and rear windows, semi-automatic air conditioning and a CD radio.
Used Buying Guide - Volkswagen Amarok
From the powerful V6 to the early 2.0-litre turbodiesels, we explain what you should look out for when buying a used second-hand Amarok one-tonne pick-up truck.
What does a Volkswagen Amarok (2011) cost?
Volkswagen Amarok (2011): What's It Like Inside?
Sit behind the wheel of the Amarok and it's easy to think you're driving a Volkswagen passsenger car. Apart from the huge square bonnet stretching out ahead of you of course. There's plenty that's familiar though with similar dials, switches and the same steering wheel from the likes of the Golf and Passat. The Amarok is certainly no poor relation to the rest of the Volkswagen range, just because it's a pick up.
The quality of the interior is good too. It's comfortable and has a more upmarket feel than you'd expect of a pick-up, yet still feels robust and hard wearing enough to be able to cope with the everyday rigours that working pick-ups have to endure. There's good storage too with twin cupholders in the middle and a large central box complete with armrest, between the seats.
Most versions of the Amarok are the double-cab which has five-seats thanks to a rear bench that can accommodate three adults fairly easily. Usefully the rear bench can also flip forward to create extra carrying space. The driver's seat adjusts for height, reach and rake so it's easy to get comfortable and even after long journeys you're unlikely to ache thanks to the supportive yet comfortable seats. An entry-level single cab version, more of a workhorse vehicle, was added to the range in mid 2012.
The interior does of course vary depending on the trim level. The Startline is the ideal workhorse with rubber flooring, electric windows and Climatic semi-automatic air conditioning. The Trendline is a bit nicer with floor carpet, ‘Climatronic’ air conditioning, a leather-covered steering wheel and a trip computer. The top Highline models have leather upholstery and heated front seats.
The load area is 1555mm long and capable of carrying a Euro pallet sideways while the big tailgate feels robust, even when you repeatedly drop it down. The load area itself comes lined as standard and like the rest of the car it feels well finished and robust enough to withstand every day abuse. There is also the option of a lockable toolbox which fits across the load bay plus of course a variety of tonneau covers including a hinged aluminium version, a roll-up waterproof fabric or even a complete matching hardtop.
The single cab model has a load area of more than 2.0 metres (2205mm to be precise) and can carry two Euro pallets sideways with 60cm to spare. The load area is 3.57 square metres in total and it comes with six lashing hooks as standard.
What's the Volkswagen Amarok (2011) like to drive?
The Amarok is powered by the familiar 2.0 TDI common rail diesel that's used across the Volkswagen range. It's a smooth and refined engine that's a world away from the old PD TDI engines that the brand used to use but still seems a small engine when the competition all use larger diesels - the L200 has a 2.5-litre diesel as does the Hilux.
The entry-level model comes with a 122PS version of the 2.0 TDI with 340Nm which emits just 199g/km of CO2 - impressively low for a pick-up. All other models come with a more powerful 2.0 BiTDI engine which as it's name suggests has twin turbochargers to boost performance. The extra turbo boosts power to 163PS along with 400Nm of torque which is available from 1500rpm.
The engine will trickle down to 1000rpm but won't pull from there and the catapult effect of the turbos is very obvious from 1,500rpm. This is as good as it can get using a 2.0-litre engine in a big pick-up, but it really needs a 2.5-litre or a 3.0-litre to feel relaxed. The benefit of course is low CO2 and the potential of good economy of 35.8mpg.
It's certainly refined and pleasant to drive with a light load on board. The standard six-speed gearbox is positive and the steering is responsive, not requiring too many turns from lock to lock. As a result it's reassuring in corners and easy to drive in town. As with all pick-ups, the Amarok is very tyre dependent and we're pleased to report the availability of 70 profile Pirelli Scorpions.
In 2012 Volkswagen introduced an Amarok Automatic which is fitted with an eight-speed automatic gearbox and powered by a 2.0 BiTDI with 180PS and 420Nm. It's a very smooth and refined gearbox which makes the most of the Amarok's power and still works well on off-road terrain.
The 4WD is an on demand system on most models although you can opt for a permanent 4WD version on Highline trim models. This version comes with a comfort suspension set-up designed for lighter use and mainly on-road driving. It has a trapezoidal spring pack which offers greater suspension, vibration and noise comfort. However it's important to note that this version has a payload of just 750kg and as this figure is under one-tonne HMRC classes it as a car and not a commercial vehicle.
The Amarok with the standard selectable 4Motion transmission has a ‘heavy duty’ rear suspension system designed to cope with off road terrain and heavier loads. Take the Amarok off road and it performs impressively well. It has all the systems you'd expect with a centre differential lock that automatically acts on all wheels to increase traction by directing power to the wheels with the best grip.
You need to stop to engage or disengage low range but it does have an electronic hill descent control and a hill holder. This allows you to descend inclines with your feet off the pedals while the hill holder holds the vehicle for three seconds so there is time to get off the footbrake and on to the accelerator after selecting first gear. The Amarok’s braked trailer weight towing limit is 2690kg. Unladen weights range from 2051kg to 2106kg (depending on model), with a 5500 kg gross train weight.
The Amarok would continue with the range of four-cylinder engines until Volkswagen replaced them with a 3.0-litre V6 as part of its 2016 model year revisions. The new 3.0-litre is offered in 204PS and 224PS (240PS with overboost). All were initially only offered with the eight-speed automatic, though the 204PS and a lower-power 163PS would be offered with six-speed manuals in 2017 in Trendline trim. The manual transmission allows a low-ratio transfer box for those wanting ultimate off-road ability. Early 2018 would see a 258PS version of the V6 engine introduced with an overboost function for 272PS for short periods under heavy engine loadings.
Real MPG average for a Volkswagen Amarok (2011)
Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their vehicles could not match the official figures.
Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.
Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.