VW Amarok Aventura

Meet Australia’s most cashed-up tradie

BARRY PARK

FOUR years ago Volkswagen had a very different set of problems. Tougher Euro 6 diesel emissions standards, due in late-2016, were looming.

The twin-turbo 2.0-litre four used in the Amarok was particularly troubling, the cost of making it conform ruled prohibitive. VW’s solution was a versatile single-turbo 3.0-litre diesel V6 launched in 2014 and already compliant. It’s used in products as diverse as Audi’s A4 and Q7, and even the Porsche Cayenne S Diesel.

For Amarok, it’s tuned to produce 165kW and 550Nm – 28kW/30Nm less than the highperformance Cayenne yet enough to make it the most powerful trade ute in Australia. And in overboost it provides an extra 50Nm.

To mark its arrival, and as part of a mid-life spritz with an even more car-like interior, VW has produced a launch edition called FIRST OVERSEAS DRIVE Aventura. It gains larger 20-inch alloys, a tub-mounted sports bar and two matte colour choices (blue and grey). In Australia it will top the Amarok tree above a Highlander-badged V6 and two 2.0-litre models (there’s no Euro 6 deadline for Oz…).

However, V6 power won’t come cheaply. When it lands late this year, it will become Australia’s most expensive trade ute.

There are no suspension changes for the V6, despite an extra 80kg over the front wheels.

But the extra poke does bring bigger front brakes and rear discs in place of drums. Jump on the brakes and the Aventura washes speed quickly, playfully blipping the throttle on downshifts – a strange trait in a utility.

Aventura gains arguably the most comfortable front seats in the business. Lifted from the Passat, they include 14-way electric adjustment.

You still need a key to crank the new V6, but the instrument needles now give a Golf GTI-like playful flick on start-up.

The V6 is impressive. Strong from low revs and willing, it works with the eight-speed auto to deliver a decent rush of acceleration – also if you’re rolling, once the Aventura sorts out which gear to select. Better to use the almost comically small steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters to manually pick the best gear.

Despite its heft, ride is well sorted on standard 20-inch alloys, at least on smooth German roads (and on the autobahn it easily hits its claimed 195km/h top speed, only 26km/h slower than the Cayenne Diesel). The speedsensitive Servotronic steering – a first for Amarok – is well weighted and provides car-like feedback.

Amarok is already a Wheels favourite, and the V6-engined Aventura feels even more sports ute than workhorse. ument

PLUS & MINUS

Heavy; expensive; still no rear airbags; auto-only Ups the performance ante; better steering f e feel; in-cabin comfort

Cock and bullbars

Volkswagen says it still has work to do on the Amarok’s front axle module before the V6 version of the ute arrives in Australia late this year.

As it is, the engine adds 80kg over the front axle, and an alloy bull bar will tip in an extra 120kg. Make that a steel bar with a winch and there’s another 180kg.