V6 Volkswagen Amarok Review

Reading time 12 mins.

The Volkswagen Amarok V6 offers one of the most robust and powerful diesel engines available on the Australian ute market today. Its smooth 8-speed automatic transmission coupled with its torque V6 makes heavy work seem like child’s play. But how does it handle 4WDing and touring this great country?

The Amarok has gone through a few changes since it first came out in September 2008. These include increased towing capacity, more powerful and economical engines and refreshed safety and infotainment systems. Over a decade old, the VW Amarok range has stood the test of time in the Australian market which definitely has its unique challenges of long distance, heavy work, rough unsealed roads and high temperatures.

Trayon Customers owns one of the 3.0 Litre V6 models, so in this article our primary focus will be on the V6 range such as the Core, Sportsline, Highline, Highline Black and Ultimate.

All the V6 variants utilise an all-wheel drive system with what they call a “Torsen” differential, which distributes “optimal” power between all four wheels to maximise grip on or off the beaten track.

Off road, there is no “low range” per se, but many people feel that with the closer ratios of the 8-speed automatic transmission, 1st gear is more or less the same as low range. There is an “off-road” button on the dash which sets the vehicle up for off-road conditions, including re-calibrating the ABS settings to reduce the stopping distance on loose surfaces, as well as Hill Descent Control (HDC). 

But it does have a mechanical differential lock on the rear wheels to get out of those sticky, precarious situations like when all the power is going to the wheel with the less weight on it.

VW Amarok V6 River Crossing Camper


The 3.0 Litre V6 does have the option for a 6 speed manual with a selectable 4×4 system. However, we see the more common 8 speed automatic option come through our doors, with the 4MOTION permanent 4X4 system. So we will focus on this transmission and driveline configuration for the remainder of this article.

VW Amarok V6 models include:

  • V6 TDI 550 Core
  • V6 TDI 550 Sportline
  • V6 TDI 550 Canyon
  • V6 TDI 550 Highline
  • V6 TDI 580 Highline Black
  • V6 TDI 580 Ultimate

V6 VW Amarok Specs:

At the heart of the Volkswagen Amarok V6 line is a 3.0 Litre Turbocharged Direct Injection (TDI) Diesel engine. The V6 offers 23% more power and 28% more torque while delivering lower emissions compared to the 2.0 litre option. 

The TDI 550 engines deliver 165kW (with Overboost upto to 180kW) while the TDI 580 in the Ultimate and the Highline Black delivers 190kW (with over boost of 200kW).

Here are the main specs highlights:

  • Engine: 3.0 Litre Direct Injection (TDI) V6 Turbo Diesel
  • Torque: 550Nm – 580Nm (model dependent)
  • Power: 180kW – 200kW (model dependent)
  • Fuel: 9.0L/100km
  • Towing Capacity: 3,000kg – 3,500kg
  • GVM: 3,080kg
  • GCM: 5,500kg – 6,000kg (model dependent)
  • Payload: 836kg – 989kg (model dependent)
  • Kerb weight: 2,091kg – 2,244kg
  • Length: 5,264mm
  • Width(including Mirrors): 2,228mm
  • Height: 1,878mm
  • Wheelbase: 3,095mm
  • Ground Clearance: 192mm
  • Electronic Trailer Stability Control (with genuine tow bar wiring)
  • Anti Slip Regulation
  • Mechanical Rear Differential lock (all V6 Models)
  • Active safety feature: Roll-over Prevention

The full specs of the V6 Amarok can be found in their detailed specifications PDF.

Quick note about the ANCAP rating on the Amarok. The 2.0Litre Amarok was tested in 2011 by Euro NCAP and did receive a 5 Star rating.

Since dual front airbags and side airbags with chest (thorax) and head protection are standard in the V6 models, along with ABS brakes, electronic stability control (EBS), seat belt reminders and pre-tensioners are fitted to the front seats, the ANCAP rating is still 5-Stars. However, some specifications may vary from model to model.

Exterior and Interior Design of VW Amarok 2019 / 2020

This ute’s exterior has an aggressive panel design, with subtle but sharp lines and minimal curves as Volkswagen are known for. It definitely gives it a unique identity amidst the other utes on the Australian market. 

The spacious interior is minimalistic with a lot of sweeping straight lines and brushed aluminium looking trim as highlights. Check out this section for more details on the interior and exterior design.

VW Amarok Exterior:

In the Highline, Highline Black and Ultimate you’ll also get Bi-Xenon Headlights with integrated LED daytime driving lights and automatic self leveling.

The front of the VW Amarok V6 is well-designed with the enlarged air intake systems intake incorporated by the fascia. There are more and more aftermarket accessories for the VW Amarok to enhance its capabilities off road such as Snorkels, Roof racks and Aluminium Front Bars.

VW Amarok Interior:

On the inside, you can go with the standard micro-fibre seat upholstery or in the Highline and Highline Black you can option Vienna leather seat upholstery. The Vienna leather is standard in the Ultimate. The seats are firm yet comfortable and supportive.

There is centre console armrest with a storage compartment, storage under the front seats in the Sportline model and above with a lockable glove compartment on all models.

In the Core and Sportsline models you get the Composition Media and Audio system with a 6.33” color touchscreen display. However, in the Highline and above you get the higher spec Discover Media audio and sat nav system.

Both systems support  Apple CarPlay®, Android Auto™ and Bluetooth® handsfree connectivity. You can control the infotainment system from the steering wheel along with a range of functions for the in-built computer.

On Road Performance

The stock standard V6 simply doesn’t struggle to do its job. Which is exactly what many Australians want in a Diesel engine. The 3.0 litre twin turbo diesel engine with overboost built into the turbo. So if you need to overtake you put your foot down, overboost kicks in and it really revs things up for you to get that going to give you another 10 kilowatts.

Off Road Performance

The high torque of the TDI 550 and 580 V6’s in the Amarok does make it a formidable beast for offroad. Specially with the 8 speed auto and constant 4WD enables you to access the type of pull while keeping the revs low, allowing you to idle through most obstacles in first or second gear. 

The Australian release at least doesn’t have a dedicated low range setting unfortunately, but our customers say that 1st gear is pretty low (with a ratio of 4.714:1) and further reduction isn’t necessary unless you put on larger than standard tires. But a lower ratio of 4.1 would be handy in the Australian outback, that’s for sure.

The mechanical rear locking differential is useful in hill ascents and descents, along with slippery, uneven or sandy tracks. While the 4MOTION system along with Off-road mode actively adjusts the ABS braking and driving performance on loose surfaces. Enhancing the traction along with reducing the stopping distance off road.

We have a VW Amarok V6 for a Trayon Demonstration vehicle and that V6 is mighty impressive on and off road.

VW Amarok Towing Capacity & Payload

The 8 speed automatics have a braked towing capacity of 3,500kg with a towbar load limit of 300kg. If you have a trailer on the back, and going 110km down the highway, it will idle up hills with the air-con at full throttle. 

I think that’s why the 3.0 Litre V6 is so much more popular than the 2.0 litre. No one likes a high revving diesel engine, low rev power talk is what makes it great for caravanners and horse trailers.

Payload

Since we are a slide on camper company, we aren’t so much interested in the towing capacity, but rather the payload capacity. The V6 payload ranges from 836kg – 989kg. 989kg for the Core, 976kg for the Sportline, 933 for the Highline. And then the big boy, 580 newton-meter Highline Black comes in at 871kg and finally the Ultimate is 836.

You may be thinking… “that’s not much payload,” and why do the more powerful models have a smaller payload?? 

Well, you’d be right! that isn’t much payload when you start to add offroad accessories, fuel, esky, water, a camper, luggage and your family! Consider the Ford Ranger dual cab payload is 950 kg, so it is within the same bracket.

As for the highest powers models having a lower payload, this is a common misunderstanding. Typically the higher performance models have heavier running gear and engine components, so it’s natural to think they can carry a heavier payload. 

Actually, in Australia it all comes down to the Gross Combined Mass (GCM) which is the Towing Capacity + Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) and it is limited to 6,000kg in this class. So since the heavier vehicle takes up more of this limited quota, in order to keep the 3,500 kg towing capacity the payload rating gets sacrificed. 

What can you do when you don’t want to tow and think your payload will be heavier than the manufacturer’s limits?

GVM Upgrade Options

Currently the only place we could find that offers a GVM upgrade that is worthwhile in amount of payload added for the V6 Amarok is Pedders suspension. They can legally take the GVM rating for a V6 Amarok to 3,305.

That is an increase of up to 225 kilograms for your payload which is lower than the average 300kg payload increase you generally can get with other mid-size utes but it is the most we can find for the V6 Amarok. Interestingly the GVM upgrade comes with upgraded brake pads for all four wheels, which makes sense because you’ll need more stopping power while carrying more weight.

The other thing about the Pedders GVM upgrade is that they don’t raise the vehicle. So you can’t give your Amarok an easy off road lift of 2 inches like you can with the Ford Ranger and Toyota Hilux. The maximum you can lift the Amarok is about 30 – 35mms before you have to get into some serious engineering, because the CV joints can’t extend any further.

So technically the GVM upgrade isn’t an “off road” suspension upgrade in the sense of better ground clearance. But it does increase your payload capacity and it is actually a very nice ride. When it is loaded with a camper on the back, it carries it very well and drives well.

Pedders also do a four-cylinder, 2.0 litre GVM upgrade.

So, if you wanted the more torque Highline Black (580Nm) which only has a payload of 871kg you could add 225kg to your payload to ensure you can fit any aftermarket accessories you wish, like bull bars, auxiliary batteries, roof racks, camper and still have room in the payload for you, your family, food, water and fuel. 

Our recommendation is still to choose the lighter weight versions of these aftermarket accessories where you can, in order to leave some wriggle room in the vehicle weight, no sense putting it to the max each time you go off road with a camper.


Width…. It’s Very Wide

Amaroks are a physically wider vehicle then most utes on Australian roads and I think that is one of the unique selling points. 

The first time I rode in one, I was surprised at the distance between me and the front passenger. It felt more like an American pickup in terms of Front cabin size. In fact we make a Trayon camper model which is called the “1980” for single cabs and the “Dual Wide” which is 1980mm wide to accommodate the extra width of the Amarok. 

One of the main reasons they are wider than the other makes and models is because their rear suspension is actually on the outside of the chassis rails and not under them like most other utes. So when fitted with an Aluminium tray, you get more width to work with while also having a larger cabin.

We actually made the wider 1980mm Trayon camper models to accommodate the Nissan Patrol utes which were a very popular choice of vehicle among Trayon owners.

Sadly they ended production of the Patrol ute but the Trayon 1980 still remains and is the most popular model Trayon has for single and extra cab of the same or even narrower width utes. 

Fortunately the Amarok came out and the wide 1980 Trayon models were a perfect fit. In fact the Dual cab Amarok tray is 1980mm wide by 1800mm, so it is wider than it is long. I think that is a good testament to how wide this ute actually is. So if you have broad shoulders and need to sit in the back seat, it is made for a nice fit.

VW Amarok Problems

No car is 100% perfect, and what one person’s experience is may not be what other people experience. The only public Volkswagen Amarok problems that we know about was in 2017, when the Dual Amarok was recalled due to an issue with the front wiring harness, this only included 279 cars and it was dealt with very professionally by Volkswagen.

As with most off road vehicles, the problems you may encounter would more be related to the purchase of second hand vehicles, their history and how well they have been looked after and driven.

V6 VW Amarok Price in Australia

Here is the price list of the 3.0 Litre V6, 8 Speed Auto Amarok range (All price are RRP):

  • V6 TDI 550 CORE $52,590 AUD Ex. on road costs
  • V6 TDI 550 CANYON $57,990 AUD  Ex. on road costs
  • V6 TDI 550 SPORTSLINE $56,590 AUD  Ex. on road costs
  • V6 TDI 550 HIGHLINE $61,090 AUD  Ex. on road costs
  • V6 TDI 550 HIGHLINE BLACK $64,990 AUD  Ex. on road costs
  • V6 TDI 550 ULTIMATE $72,790 AUD  Ex. on road costs

You may find a different price or get a VW Amarok for sale at your local dealer.

Amarok Rumors 2022 and Beyond 

According to motoring.com.au there are sounds of VW teaming up with Ford to create future versions of the Amarok. As of 2022 the Amarok and the Ranger will share some of the same components. This type of collaboration is more common than you think. 

After all for a while the Mazda BT-50 also shared many of the Ford Ranger. As of 2020 this relationship is ending. It’s not super clear what components will be shared.

So it will be interesting to see, will there be a whole new line of engines with this collaboration? There is a lot of speculation as to why two of the largest motor vehicle companies in the world (Ford and Volkswagen) are doing this and we won’t speculate any further in this article. But do some Googling yourself, it is quite interesting to read what people are saying.

Our Verdict:

Regardless of the direction Volkswagen will take the Amarok in the future, the 580 Newton meter Amarok V6 Highlighline Black and Ultimate 8 speed-auto is the most powerful ute on Australian roads.

This V6 has over 100Nm more torque than the legendary V8 in the Landcruiser 79 Series. It’s all-wheel drive, with no low range, but the 1st gear of the 8 speed auto already has pretty low ratios.

When you drive the V6 Amarok, it is fun no doubt about it. It’s got the performance and heavy lifting capabilities to boot. With a good combination of comfort and practicality.

Thanks for reading the Trayon VW Amarok Review.

Disclaimer: Trayon Campers Pty Ltd (Trayon Campers) and trayon.com provides this information based on data from a range of sources including third parties. Whilst all care has been taken to ensure its accuracy and reliability, Trayon Campers do not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.

To the maximum extent permitted by law, Trayon Campers exclude all liability for any direct, indirect, special or incidental loss, damage, expense or injury resulting from, arising out of, or in connection with your use of or reliance upon this information.

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