2014 Volkswagen Amarok Pick-up Review

Volkswagen adds a bit of pizzazz to its Amarok pick-up, creating the Canyon variant.

From a business buyer's point of view (and not many people buy pick-ups as a domestic vehicle) two boggo Amaroks make more sense than one blingy one.

Review

Good points: undeniable road presence, host of standard features, enclosed flat-bed.

Not so good: the price, the price, the price.

Test car details:

Model tested: Volkswagen Amarok Canyon
Pricing: €56,375 (Amarok range starts from €32,540)
Engine: 2.0-litre bi-turbocharged four-cylinder diesel
Transmission: four-wheel drive, six-speed manual
Body style: double-cab pick-up
Rivals: Ford Ranger, Nissan Navara, Toyota Hi-Lux
CO2 emissions: 216g/km
Combined economy: 37mpg (7.6 litres/100km)
Top speed: 179km/h
0-100km/h: 10.9 seconds
Power: 180hp at 4,000rpm
Torque: 420Nm at 1,750rpm

Our view:

"Can you name the truck with four-wheel drive, smells like a steak and seats thirty five? Canyonero. Can-yon-eroooo!"

Apologies, but I defy anybody to look at the pictures here and not instinctively break into a few bars of Hank William's classic from 'The Simpsons'. Maybe it is the colour. Perhaps the sheer scale of it or maybe it is the fact that the vehicle you see before you is the Volkswagen Amarok Canyon; the big daddy of the Amarok range, or, as Mr William's might say "top of the line in utility sports..."

(Enough of the Simpsons quotes already - Ed)

Yes, quite!

While the Canyon looks like an Amarok that somebody in Volkswagen Ireland ordered after spending too much time with the accessories catalogue, it is in fact a vehicle that can be ordered directly from the factory as you see it (others colours are available). In fact the Canyon is more an Amarok that has had every box on the options list ticked, and even a few that are not on the list. Try as you might you simply cannot order a regular Amarok with the multi-function steering wheel and 6.5-inch touchscreen based infotainment system with built in satellite navigation and Bluetooth. Even the 19-inch 'Cantera' alloy wheels are unique to the Canyon and that is without getting into the heated leather seats, lockable roll-over system for the flat bed and the roof mounted light bar.

All these added toys do come at a price though, with the Canyon coming in at an eye-watering €56,375. When you consider the Amarok range starts from €32,540 you have to really, really want all the Canyon additions.

At that price the Canyon is in something of a precarious position; it has no direct rivals in the pick-up market, which means that it starts to be compared with passenger SUVs. A full 'bells and whistles' Hyundai Santa Fe comes in at €51,245, leaving enough money over to raid the accessories catalogue. Okay so you cannot get roof mounted spot lights on the Hyundai, but on the Amarok they do present a problem - at 2.2 metres high most multi-storey car parks are out of limits. Not that negotiating a multi-storey with a seventeen foot long pick-up is easy at the best of times, but it is at least possible; with the lights - not so much.

The problem with comparing the Canyon to a passenger SUV is that, despite its luxuries, it is a commercial vehicle at heart. The Canyon may be able to haul 3,000kg (3,200kg if you opt for the automatic) and the flat bed may be able to take a Euro-sized pallet with a 1,141kg payload on top, but a passenger SUV it is not. Despite being the most car-like of the pick-ups to drive, with a lot of that owing to the familiarity brought about by the Volkswagen parts bin, the Amarok is not as comfortable and refined to drive as a dedicated SUV.

Of course the Canyon counters with supreme off-road ability. There are electronic differential locks front and rear, hill descent control, off-road anti-lock brakes and a host of other electronic systems that ensure the Canyon would leave a Santa Fe in its wake once the road gets rough.

But the regular Amarok features all the same off-road functions and costs nearly half the price of the Canyon. Sure, on the entry level model you have to make do with 163hp to the Canyon's 180hp and it looks nowhere near as good, but from a business buyer's point of view (and not many people buy pick-ups as a domestic vehicle) two boggo Amaroks make more sense than one blingy one. Especially when you start writing off the VAT.

Alternatives:

Ford Ranger: almost as much presence as the Canyon and a lot cheaper. Not as good on road though.

Nissan Navara: somewhat overlooked of late but 2012 facelift gave it good looks to go with its hauling ability. Interior cannot hold a candle to the Volkswagen however.

Toyota Hi-Lux: even the most expensive Hi-Lux is still €15,000 cheaper than the Canyon.