For several months Boating NZ has been running the new Amarok V6 ute as a tow vehicle for the magazine’s boat-hauling duties. The Amarok sits at the top of the pecking order in New Zealand as the most powerful ute in its class, producing up to 580Nm of low-down, kick-ass torque.

The model we’ve been enjoying is the slightly more modest 550Nm truck. It’s the most affordable of the range, but I hesitate to use the term ‘entry-level’ as there is nothing stripped down or spartan about its specifications and comfort levels.

To begin with, the passenger cabin is a very appealing spot to enjoy VW’s familiar DNA – clean, understated quality. The multi-function steering wheel – leather-covered with gloss black trim – is a particularly classy touch on the sharp-looking dash. And it feels really good.


It’s merely the icing for a host of useful driver features, including cruise control, automatic lights and wipers, daylight LEDs – and a neat ‘look-around-corners’ ability on the fog lights is very welcome in dark places. The rear park-assist is super-handy in busy car parks.

Above all, I like the sense of spaciousness – an important factor for bigger gents. Seats are ergonomically spot-on, as attested by a recent eight-hour stint behind the wheel with no fatigue or back stress. The black-and-navy tones of the cloth fabric are forgiving of the odd spill and stain.

The infotainment screen in the central dash provides Apple/Android Car Play functionality. Perhaps a little undersize at 6-inches, but perfectly adequate. It doesn’t have on-board GPS, but it’s not something I miss – after all, everyone carries a smartphone. Passengers in the rear seat (there’s space for three) will enjoy good leg room and great views.

The Amarok’s one of the more handsome utes around. Ours boasts the 20-inch ‘Talca’ alloys and optional side rails. It’s also very practical. The load tray is wide enough to accommodate a pallet between wheel arches, and it’s capable of carrying more than 1,000kg of gear. The tonneau cover and plastic tray liner is standard, and the wide wheelbase is a boon for stability on- and off-road.


Various colours options are available – including Deep Black and Starlight Blue – but in our experience the metallic Mojave Beige variant (shown here) is the best for hiding dirt and road film.

Strong tow vehicle
One of the ute’s most common roles is hauling, launching and retrieving a variety of boats. With full time 4WD and a tow-rating of up to 3,500kg (backed up by that awesome torque) this ute has few challengers in pure towing ability.
Gone are the days of manually-activated, hi-lo shift boxes. ABS, ESP and hill descent assist are all automatic – just get in and drive. The reversing camera is in the right place, tucked up under the tailgate and well-protected from rain and spray.

We’ve completed hundreds of kilometres towing our 2.4-tonne Haines Hunter SS660 on a DMW tandem trailer. The eight-speed auto turns it into a comfortable and effortless chore. Very smooth, and gear changes are often indiscernible.
There is also a sport mode on the shift lever. This is great for drag-racing white tradie vans and fast-off-the-mark EVs at traffic lights and on-ramps – but especially so for towing on winding and steep sections. It holds gears just a little longer, giving better access to all that juicy torque when you need it.

It’s not bad on fuel consumption either. The brochure claims 7.3l/100km in perfect driving conditions. In reality – including rush-hour commuting and around town use – we see between 10-11l/100km and 12-13l/100km when towing. Fuel tank size is a generous 80 litres, giving a range of 800-900kms – so you’re not dashing to the gas station too often.

We’ve enjoyed our time with the mighty Amarok, and have yet to find a ramp slimy or steep enough to challenge it. And it’s hard to understate the sense of safety and security that comes with that full-time 4WD.


The European build-quality is superb. Doors make the appropriate solid thunk on closing. All surfaces and finish are just that little bit lux. And VW has worked some magic in the leaf spring rear end. It drives more like a high-end SUV than a double-cab ute.

This is a no nonsense go-anywhere, tow-anything truck with a touch of class and comfort. It achieves an elusive balance as an honest hard-working truck as you will find on- or off-road, but with enough refinement and polish to excel as a family tourer or on a big night in town.

A veritable iron fist in a velvet glove.