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    Volkswagen Amarok 2022 review: W580 - GVM test

    The W580S sits above the W580 as the top-shelf offering in a two-tiered W-Series range.

    Daily driver score

    4/5

    Tradies score

    4/5
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    The VW Amarok launched in 2010 has never posed a threat to the sales dominance of the Ford Ranger and Toyota HiLux in local 4x4 ute sales, even though it has some excellent design qualities and is still one of the best to drive.

    With VW joining forces with Ford in joint development of the next generation of Amaroks and Rangers due in 2022, the current model is nearing the end of production. However, that hasn’t stopped Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles Australia and revered high performance vehicle developer Walkinshaw joining forces to produce specialised local variants under the Amarok W-Series banner.

    The Walkinshaw Group based at Clayton in Melbourne is a global leader in design, engineering, development and marketing of performance vehicles. It’s perhaps best known in Australia for its historical roots with the now-defunct Tom Walkinshaw Racing (TWR) and its famous Holden Racing Team (HRT) and Holden Special Vehicles (HSV) operations.  

    The W-Series is primarily designed to provide a sportier and more engaging driving experience for Amarok buyers that spend most of their time on rather than off-road. We weren’t surprised to discover that the W-Series is a class act, despite the Amarok’s advancing years.

    Read more about the Volkswagen Amarok

    Price and Features – Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

    Our test vehicle is the W580S, which sits above the W580 as the top-shelf offering in a two-tiered W-Series range. Based on the Highline model in the standard Amarok line-up, the only drivetrain available is the premium 190kW/580Nm 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel and eight-speed automatic transmission. List price for the W580S is $79,990, which is even more than Ford’s premium-priced Ranger Raptor ($79,390) which also features unique body and suspension enhancements but with more of an off-road focus.

    There’s no mistaking a W-Series with any other model in the Amarok range. There’s no mistaking a W-Series with any other model in the Amarok range.

    The W580S offers many unique standard items including 20 x 9-inch ‘Clayton’ alloy wheels and Pirelli Scorpion 275/50 R20 AT-R tyres with full-size alloy spare, twin-tuned exhaust system with W-Series branded tips, wider wheel-arch extensions, tuned suspension (see Design), special grille and front fascia detailing, bonnet protector, LED front fog lamps with cornering function, sail plane sports bar, protective tub-liner, body decals and Vienna leather-trimmed seats with the fronts heated and offering 14-way power adjustment.

    There’s also prominent Walkinshaw branding on the body decals, tailgate badge, seat headrests and carpet mats plus a sequentially-numbered build plate on the console, so there’s no mistaking a W-Series with any other model in the Amarok range.

    Design – is there anything interesting about its design?

    The standard Amarok is characterised by a chunky, broad-shouldered stance as it’s inherently wide relative to its length. Walkinshaw enhances that look with a 46mm increase in track width front and rear created by greater offset in the 20 x 9-inch forged alloy wheels unique to the W-Series.

    This increase in track width required wider wheel-arch flares to shroud the Pirelli Scorpion tyres, resulting in a noticeable 65mm body width increase. Combined with a 20mm gain in rolling diameter and 50mm rise in front ride height, the end result is an even more muscular-looking Amarok.

    The suspension tuning includes made-to-order Monroe MTV (Multi Tuned Valve) shock absorbers plus repositioned spring platforms and enhanced spring rates. The weight of the new wheel/tyre assembly matches the OEM version it replaces, to avoid any increase in unsprung weight that could compromise handling.

    The end result is an even more muscular-looking Amarok. The end result is an even more muscular-looking Amarok.

    The end result is designed for “spirited GT-inspired driving” with greater response and driver confidence on both bitumen and loose dirt/gravel roads. The tuned rear shocks are also claimed to improve towing stability.

    Unlike the many HSVs developed under Walkinshaw, there are no enhancements of the Amarok’s OEM drivetrain (not that it needs it) apart from a freer-flowing and slightly louder dual exhaust system finished in a matt-black powder coating.

    Our only criticisms are the front parking sensors which refused to activate on initial approaches to obstacles, but each time we reversed and tried again they would work fine.

    Engine and transmission – What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

    The Amarok’s 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel is a jewel and well suited to this performance packaging, as it produces 190kW between 3250-4500rpm with an extra 10kW available on ‘over-boost’ for durations of up to 20 seconds - brilliant for quick overtaking on two-lane blacktops. It also has class-leading torque of 580Nm across a broad peak band between 1400-3000rpm.

    The Amarok’s 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel is a jewel and well suited to this performance packaging. The Amarok’s 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel is a jewel and well suited to this performance packaging.

    This is matched with a slick-shifting eight-speed torque converter automatic, with overdrive on seventh and eighth gear ratios providing economical highway operation. There’s also the option of sequential manual-shifting, which is a nice choice to have given this vehicle’s sporty character, controlled by either the console-mounted stick-shift or steering wheel paddles if you prefer.

    The full-time 4x4 transmission is also well suited to this application, given the enhanced traction it provides on all surfaces. There’s also an electronic rear diff lock.

    Fuel consumption – How much fuel does it consume?

    VW claims an official combined average of 9.5L/100km but our figure calculated from fuel bowser and tripmeter readings came in 11.9, which was acceptable given that during our 360km of testing we lugged a near-maximum payload for about one third of that distance plus engaged in some ‘spirited’ driving here and there. So, based on our figures, you could expect a real-world driving range of around 670km from its 80-litre tank.

    Practicality – How practical is the space inside?

    Deducting the 2284kg kerb weight from the 3080kg GVM leaves 796kg of payload capacity on our calculator, but VW claims a payload of 848kg which is 52kg higher. As we could not get an official explanation for this discrepancy, we chose the lower figure as the payload limit for our GVM test to be on the safe side.

    The W580S is also rated to tow up to 3500kg of braked trailer but the official tow-ball download limit is 300kg which could present a challenge if peak towing, given that TBD is usually about 10 per cent of trailer weight, or potentially 350kg in this context.

    There’s bottle holders and small storage bins in both front and rear doors. There’s bottle holders and small storage bins in both front and rear doors.

    Its GCM rating (how much it can legally carry and tow at the same time) of 6000kg would also leave only 216kg of payload capacity if towing 3500kg, which could easily be used up by two large adults. So, keep these figures in mind if you need to carry and/or tow really heavy loads.

    The cabin’s storage options include a bottle holder and large bin in each front door, dash-top storage tray, single glovebox and a centre console containing an open bin at the front, two cup holders in the centre and a lidded box at the rear.

    The bottle/cup holders atop the transmission hump create some discomfort for those seated in the middle if loaded with cups or bottles. The bottle/cup holders atop the transmission hump create some discomfort for those seated in the middle if loaded with cups or bottles.

    There’s also bottle holders and small storage bins in the rear doors plus flexible pouches on each front seat backrest and two more bottle/cup holders atop the transmission hump, which create rear-of-leg discomfort for those seated in the middle if loaded with cups or bottles.

    The fully-lined load tub has four cargo anchorage points at floor level plus a handy 12-volt accessory plug. The Amarok’s unusually spacious 1222mm between its wheel arches will accommodate either 1165mm-square Aussie pallets or 1200 x 800mm Euro pallets.

    What’s it like as a daily driver?

    It’s certainly a good-looking ute with its wide-track 20-inch wheels and fat Pirelli boots bulging under pumped wheel-arch flares.

    The leather-trimmed Walkinshaw-branded front seats are very supportive, particularly in holding your lower torso in place. It’s also impossible not to find a comfortable driving position, given the 14-way powered seat adjustment and equally comfortable and grippy leather-rimmed steering wheel.

    Suspension tune is noticeably firmer and can be a little harsh over larger bumps and corrugations, but that’s to be expected. Overall, it has a taught, athletic feel that’s more responsive to steering input and more surefooted given its wider track and grippy road-biased Pirellis.

    The leather-trimmed Walkinshaw-branded front seats are very supportive, particularly in holding your lower torso in place. The leather-trimmed Walkinshaw-branded front seats are very supportive, particularly in holding your lower torso in place.

    The V6 turbo-diesel is well suited to this role, as its 580Nm of torque really gets things moving. Hit it hard from a standing start and it rears up and surges to 3250rpm, where a seamless transition to its 190kW of peak power keeps it pulling hard to 4500rpm and triple-digit speeds in a short timeframe.

    The eight-speed auto’s shift calibrations get the best out of this engine in most situations, but the sequential paddle-shifters provided a more intimate connection when we punted the W580S along a snaky mountain pass with lots of dips, blind crests, scattered forest debris and variety of cornering speeds.

    The whole package felt disciplined and well balanced, taking into account the obvious dynamic limitations of a truck weighing more than 2.2 tonnes that sits much higher above the road than a traditional “GT” car.

    What’s it like for tradie use?

    We pumped up the Pirelli Scorpions to their recommended pressures for load-carrying (38psi front, 44psi rear) and strapped 650kg into the load tub, which with driver equalled a 750kg payload. That was 46kg below our self-imposed 796kg payload limit, with the nose rising 12mm and the rear leaf springs compressing 52mm.

    The fully-lined load tub has four cargo anchorage points at floor level plus a handy 12-volt accessory plug. The fully-lined load tub has four cargo anchorage points at floor level plus a handy 12-volt accessory plug.

    Even so, that still left about 60mm of static rear bump-stop clearance, which was ample in ensuring there was no bottoming-out during our test. The wider track of the W-Series only enhanced the Amarok’s performance under load, cornering with admirable composure on bitumen. We also drove it on some dirt roads turned boggy from heavy overnight rain, but it handled those slimy conditions with equal competence.

    As expected, the engine was not troubled by this payload on our 2.0km long, 13 per cent gradient set climb at 60km/h. We left the eight-speed auto to choose the right ratio for the job, which was fifth gear at 1800rpm with only light pressure on the accelerator pedal. In other words, ample torque with plenty of pulling power in reserve.

    We strapped 650kg into the load tub, which with driver equalled a 750kg payload. We strapped 650kg into the load tub, which with driver equalled a 750kg payload.

    Engine-braking on the way down was the best we’ve seen since the Land Cruiser 70 Series. In a manually selected second gear, the big V6 only reached 4000rpm on overrun (soft redline 4600rpm) and without touching the brakes it never exceeded the posted 60km/h limit.

    That’s mighty engine-braking for a 3.0-litre engine carrying a heavy load, which would be most handy when carrying and/or towing particularly in hilly terrain. Fact is, the W580S could efficiently serve as a tradie’s ute if required.

    Safety – What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

    There’s no ANCAP rating for the V6, no AEB and no side-curtain airbag protection for rear seat passengers. Driver and front passenger have front and side (head and thorax) airbags and the rear seat offers three top-tether child seat anchorage points plus ISOFIX anchors on the two outer seating positions. The active safety menu includes trailer sway control but that’s only available with VW’s genuine accessory tow-bar and wiring kit.

    Ownership – What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?

    The W850S is covered by a five years/unlimited km warranty and 12 months roadside assist. Service intervals of 20,000km/12 months whichever occurs first. Total capped-price servicing cost of $3620 covers the first five scheduled services up to 100,000km/five years, or an average price of $724 per service.

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    A wave of Walkinshaw’s wand has produced the desired result but it also can’t hide the Amarok’s advancing years and lack of major updates along the way. Giveaways like its small infotainment control screen, no rear passenger a/c vents, cramped rear seating for adults and conspicuous gaps in its safety menu show this still-capable warrior is nearing retirement age. Even so, if you want an Amarok V6 that’s more of a sharp-handling grand tourer than a bush-basher, then the W580S might be what you’re looking for. Whether it’s worth $80K is something only a potential buyer can decide.

    $79,990

    Based on new car retail price

    Daily driver score

    4/5

    Tradies score

    4/5
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    Price Guide

    $79,990

    Based on new car retail price

    This price is subject to change closer to release data
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