Volkswagen Amarok 2022 (Volkswagen)
We have always loved the Volkswagen Amarok, which received excellent ratings in cross-category comparative tests.
We liked it, but the Israeli customer did not storm the showrooms;
In a world dominated by Japanese-Thai players, with technical specifications different from the standard accepted by farmers and contractors, in the absence of the important 'power' gear for off-roaders - it had no chance against Toyota and Isuzu.
In the big world, 830,000 first-generation Amaroks were sold, but in Israel, Champion put less than 1,000 Amaroks on the road.
Today the Israeli market is in a very different situation, with a shrunken and limited selection of options: the Nissan Navara was never sold here in serious quantities (what a shame, it was an excellent van!), the Mitsubishi Triton became extinct only recently, and we have already forgotten the Mazda.
For an Israeli customer who does not want to purchase an American whale, there are only two options - the Toyota Hi-Lex (which leads the market, despite its advanced age), and the Isuzu D-Max.
Because that's why we are very happy about the arrival of a new player in the arena.
Strong in the field.
Unlike the previous model, the new Amarok is armed with everything you need to have fun in the field (Photo: Rami Gilboa)
Amarok 2023 is not just an upgrade of the outgoing model, it is the Volkswagen version of the Ford Ranger that was introduced to the world less than a year ago.
This is the first fruit of the strategic cooperation between the commercial divisions of Ford and Volkswagen under which Ford will develop a 1 ton van, while Volkswagen will contribute to electric commercial development partnerships.
The Ranger is not (yet) sold in Israel, but it is a big hit in Australia, whose residents love pickup trucks.
The Amarok and Ranger were developed simultaneously by teams in Australia and Germany;
The production of the Amarok will be carried out at the Silverton plant in South Africa.
The main reason for the unusual origin is the advantage of this factory in its great specialization in the production of cars with both right and left-hand drive.
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The chassis is carved with blunt and strong lines, wide wings, it has a performance (photo: manufacturer's website)
Volkswagen Amarok will arrive in Israel in the second quarter of 2023, in two finish versions;
The more basic Style, and the more luxurious Aventura.
Both versions will arrive in Israel with the fine 6V engine and with a 10-speed automatic transmission.
The price is not yet closed;
The Aventura will most likely cost a little over 300,000 shekels, and the style a little less - "the prices will be competitive with the Toyota Hi-Lex", so we were told.
The PanAmericana version will not reach us, and it's a shame;
Of the two luxurious versions, Pan-Americana is the one more geared towards off-road work, especially in the suspension and steering department.
South Africans call their vans Bakkie.
The local van driver did not understand what exactly was passing in front of him (Photo: Rami Gilboa)
Who are you, Volkswagen Amarok?
The Amarok was developed by a Ford team, which received detailed requirements from Volkswagen.
It took us a long time to milk the exact information but now the picture is clear - both vans share the same technical assemblies that originate from Ford's production lines;
Engines, gearboxes, chassis, suspensions.
For me it's really not a problem, on the contrary.
These are excellent and proven assemblies, which star in Ford SUVs and commercial vehicles.
20 Volkswagen engineers were stationed in Australia to put their European stamp on tuning and calibrating the assemblies.
The goal was to give each of the vans its own separate character.
For example, Volkswagen insisted on including a V6 diesel engine in the range, an engine that never appeared in Ford's Ranger.
A great effort was made in the design department, which tried to imprint the Volkswagen DNA in the new Amarok;
Almost all body parts are different between the two vans.
Siblings, but not twins.
The Amarok is relatively elegant and introverted, the wheel arches are square and prominent.
The Ranger's nose is blunt and square (photo: manufacturer's website)
With a length of 5.4 meters and a wheelbase of 3.3 meters, the new Amarok is longer than the outgoing model by about 10 centimeters and more importantly, its wheelbase has increased by a significant 17.3 centimeters.
It is longer than the Toyota and the Isuzu, and its trunk is also longer and deeper.
The Amarok wheelbase provides improved interior space for those sitting in the back.
Under the hood stretches a wide and pointed grill, with headlights somewhat reminiscent of the Tiguan.
The large Volkswagen logo will close the family identification with a series of air intakes and handsome fog lights.
Under the grill is a silver element that is supposed to remind, probably, a ventral shield.
In a side view we will discover swollen and emphasized wings, their square shape is taken from the first Amarok;
The box is larger than the usual among the competitors, including anchor hooks, a 12 volt socket and an optional roller blind (photo: manufacturer's website)
The rear of the Amarok is decorated with stylish lighting units, LED of course.
The name AMAROK (this is the Inuit name for a full-grown northern wolf) is stamped across the back door.
The rear bumper has a removable tow hook.
The box with an electric roller shutter, useful and discreet, arrived at the launch.
The box is relatively large for the category with an internal length of 162.4 cm, the width between the wheels is 122.7 cm, and the depth is 52.9 cm. Six anchor hooks will secure the cargo in the back. The Amarok comes with side steps that make it easier to enter the car, but they are wide in my opinion. can get in the way when driving on technical terrain. An elegant loading arch complements the gnarled look. Overall, there's a look that's both elegant and tough, keeping in line with other Volkswagen models.
The bow is relatively refined, the wings are square and prominent.
The side steps are wide - it's convenient for getting in and out of the van, less suitable for off-road driving (Photo: Rami Gilboa)
the passenger compartment
An important task was to keep the Volkswagen atmosphere in the passenger compartment as well.
The seats are of very high quality, allowing you to find a good driving position.
There are two glove drawers and another useful shelf, and a storage surface in the center of the dashboard.
The dashboard is geometric and very clean, controlled by a 12-inch vertical multimedia screen.
The steering wheel is relatively small and the upholstery materials are excellent, certainly in the van category;
There is leather, plastic, recycled materials and aluminum, well assembled and finished.
In front there are USB and C sockets, standard 12 volts and wireless smartphone charging.
In the back seat we found 220 and 12 volt sockets but no USB sockets, a shame.
There are rear air conditioning vents.
A large multimedia monitor controls the look of the passenger cabin.
Comfortable and spacious, finished to a very high standard (photo: manufacturer's website)
The seats in the Aventura version are electric and the seating position is excellent, although the roof beam A slightly interferes with the diagonal view.
The hood also slightly limits the view to the front, in off-road maneuvers;
For your benefit comes an excellent display of 360 degree cameras.
A 12.0 inch multimedia screen and a 12.3 dashboard give the driver excellent control over the van's systems.
The display is bright and clear, the screen responses are immediate.
Under the multimedia screen we found a physical switch to control the volume, and next to it four 'piano switches' for parking assistance, safety systems, and a choice between 6 driving styles ('normal', 'economy', 'mud', 'sand', 'slippery' and 'towing' ').
One of the switches puts you in the air conditioner menu, which still requires rummaging through the menus.
The control of the air conditioner is relatively intuitive but still, I lack more convenient and safer physical switches.
Almost there, but not quite;
There is a physical switch only to control the volume of the music, but not for the air conditioner.
Despite this, human engineering is very good (photo: manufacturer's website)
The back seat has more knee room than usual, and the seat is comfortable.
Still, it's a classic pickup truck seat with a relatively upright backrest, and a lower and shorter seat than you'll find in a regular SUV;
Any other choice would have come at the expense of the box.
Under the back seat there are useful storage compartments.
For the passengers' enjoyment, a Harman Kardon sound system will spread 640 watts of music in the space of the van.
The safety system is complete with autonomous braking, lane keeping, adaptive speed control and parking assistance, traffic sign recognition and entering a blind spot;
More importantly, the Amarok has just recently been awarded five safety stars in the Euro NCAP crash test, a fine and unusual score for a van.
For workers or family members, the place in the back is spacious, relative to the category (photo: manufacturer's website)
6V per worker
Volkswagen offers a choice of five engines from 2.0 to three liters, 4 pistons or six, from 150 horsepower to 302. The excellent 6V diesel engine will arrive in Israel, with a power of 240 hp and a beefy torque of 60 kgm.
This engine is significantly more powerful than anything circulating today in the 1-ton pickup category, it is also more powerful than the 6V of the previous Amarok (224 hp and 55 kg).
The new engine is quiet and discreet, free of vibrations and gurgles that appear in smaller 4-piston engines.
Mated to a 10-speed gearbox, it is strong and fast and I have no doubt that it will easily cope with the towing figures of 3.5 tons, and an impressive loading capacity of 1.19 tons in the box.
We also discovered a completely reasonable fuel consumption;
During the relatively strenuous test, the Amaroks did 9-10 kilometers per liter, which is really fine for an uneconomical driving style.
With a fuel tank of 80 liters of diesel and 19.3 liters of urea, the driving range between refuelings will be completely satisfactory.
Pleasantly surprising on a straight or winding road, even with 18-inch rims (photo: manufacturer's website)
We really liked the road behavior of the Amarok.
As an off-road pickup, it is surprisingly accurate on the road, the steering is quite sharp and the body roll is minimal.
With its beefy engine, it is able to attack a mountain road at a speed that would not put road cars to shame, it will be fun to return from the trip on the Sodom Arad road.
The 10 speed gearbox is not very quick but it responds well, sometimes dropping 3 or 4 gears.
There is manual control over the gears but it is done using annoying e-shifter switches, I didn't like it.
Volkswagen representatives subtly dodged our questions about a future R performance version, which could take on performance pickups like the Ford Raptor or Chevrolet Colorado ZR2.
An electrified version may arrive towards 2025, it is not yet clear whether it will be fully electric, or a rechargeable hybrid (more likely).
The passenger compartment is spacious and luxurious, the design is very technological (photo: manufacturer's website)
All Amaroks sit on a classic independent suspension setup up front, and a live rear axle with leaf springs.
The ride comfort is good for the category, although not amazing in quality.
Nothing will help, a load capacity of 1.2 tons and leaf springs cannot be comfortable, as long as there is no significant cargo in the box.
The previous Amarok received a standard 'work' version, and next to it a 'leisure version' from which one of the leaf springs was removed;
The recreational version had a reduced load capacity of about 700 kilograms, but ride comfort was greatly improved.
Volkswagen people were not ready to commit to a future leisure version but I can bet on the arrival of such a version, down the road.
255/65 R18 tires are suitable for off-road work, 255/70 R17 would be really great.
The rear suspension movement is good (Photo: Rami Gilboa)
Tires: The Amaroks will arrive in Israel with two versions of tires: 255/65 R18 for the basic style, 255/55 R20 for the luxurious Aventura.
The 20-inch tires may charm urban customers, but believe me, it's better for you to choose 18-inch tires that will provide better driving comfort, and high durability in off-road driving.
It is not yet clear what the importer's policy will be regarding the flexibility in choosing tires;
Technically, all Amarok models can also lock 255/70 R17 tires which I would prefer over the other options.
I can only flat out my request to the Champion company, give us freedom of choice... a 255/70 R17 tire will bring you many off-road foxes.
In an age where most traditional off-road vehicles have died out, 4x4 pickups are a great way to go off-road.
Amarok 2023 will be in line with the category, and even beyond that (Photo: Rami Gilboa)
Going down to the field
The previous Amarok did not have a 'power' gear, this alienated customers who really intended to go off-road, for work or a trip.
Today the Amarok has a power transmission, a 4-MOTION transfer box with two 4X4 modes and an option for road driving in 2X4, traction control and rear differential lock.
The approach and departure angles are appropriate for the category, the long wheelbase may interfere a bit with off-road driving - but to a not really significant extent.
She managed an impressive 80 centimeters, the belly space is a decent 23.7 centimeters, and a respectable approach angle of 30 degrees.
There is downhill descent control and a choice between three terrain modes, 'mud', 'sand', and 'slippery'.
There is a display of 4x4 modes on the digital dashboard.
The specifications are almost perfect, and I have no doubt that we will see quite a few Amaroks having fun in the Negev shoals.
Occasional crossings are handled with ease and in extreme cases, the rear locking will allow you to continue moving (Photo: Rami Gilboa)
As part of the launch, we did off-road driving for close to an hour, on quite technical paths - gradients, crossings, some loose sand, the occasional rock.
It wasn't very challenging, but it showed us a very significant terrain potential.
The rear differential is manually locked, it will disengage by itself above 30 km/h; when you return to crawl speed it reengages, this is useful for off-road trips that combine fast trails and occasional technical passages. We were pleased to find that the differential lock does not disengage the traction control of the front wheels, as it should be The off-road ride included fast sections that demonstrated excellent build quality, nothing burped. We were pleased to find that the front suspension was firm enough to prevent nose-down collapse in fast driving.
Like any van, the Amarok is an excellent base for off-road and travel upgrades.
But it is also possible to get by with self-construction and many times cheaper, the dream model we met in the field (photo: manufacturer's website)
South Africa is a temple for off-road travelers and to illustrate the idea of the 'travel van' we were presented with an Overland version with an Alu-Cab roof tent and on it a carrier for two Maxtrack 'shalves', a 270 degree window, aluminum drawers, a picnic table and a compact kitchen.
In addition, a Gobi X iron bumper, a carrier for an extra spare wheel, cargo boxes, guards and professional side steps were mounted on the van.
The tour van sat on Iron-Man suspension with a 2-inch Iron-Man body lift, and Maxxis LT265/65 R18 all-terrain tires.
Order me two of these!
Amarok is armed with everything needed to succeed in sales;
The key question is the price, which should be competitive.
Supply in Israel, third quarter of 2023 (Photo: Rami Gilboa)
Amarok 2023 opens a completely new page in Volkswagen's connection to the world of compact vans.
While the previous Amarok was a unique product limited to a limited and tasteless audience, the new van breaks all limitations.
This is the largest and most powerful van in the category, it is sophisticated and technological, looks excellent, and has a perfect off-road specification for the category.
The driving comfort does not compare to that of urban SUVs, but it makes the most of its useful configuration - a work van for the weekdays, a travel van for the weekend and Yom Tov.
The world is spread out before us (Photo: Manufacturer's website)
We are aware of the fact that in front of the Amarok stand two strong vans, with a long-standing reputation;
The Israeli trucker considers brands very highly, and Hi Lex is still the king of the category;
Although it is already aging, and is about to be replaced.
The Isuzu is still fresh, but the new Volkswagen Amarok will challenge both with innovative looks, large dimensions, excellent off-road capability and a fine engine.
And let's not forget, for me, knowing that Ford technology is here can only help promote the new Amarok.
We can only hope to find competitive pricing for the new Amarok, and wait for a first test at the Great Rivers Reserve.
The symbol is known in the commercial world, will it also succeed in the field of vans? (Photo: Manufacturer's website)
On the technical side: Volkswagen Amarok Avantura
Supercharged diesel 3.0 liters, 6V, 2,993 cc
automatic, 10 gears
Rear, 4x4 for off-road and road, power transmission,
control, rear differential lock,
Angle of approach / abandonment / belly (degrees):
30 / 26 / 21
Box dimensions (inside, cm):
length 162.4, width (between the wheels) 122.7, depth 52.9
AT tires, 255/55 R20 (Aventura), 255/65 R18 (Style) Curb
Load / towing capacity (kg):
1,190 / 3,500
Tiota Hi Lex, Isuzu Di Max
Not yet determined . The
writer was a guest of the Volkswagen company