Amarok blurs line between work and play
. Amarok Highline double cab is very hard to stop when the advanced 2.0-litre diesel is combined with the new 8-speed auto transmission 2

The ute with the fruit - that's the broad reputation the Volkswagen Amarok has gained since its release in Australia nearly two years ago.

Given the many high-tech features that are standard equipment, it's no wonder.

Most one-tonne pick-ups and dual-cabs try hard to blur the boundaries between passenger cars and commercials, but the Amarok seems to make the gap the smallest.

If you're reading about Amarok on these pages, you're likely to be someone who is interested in a "multi-purpose" vehicle rather than a dollied-up ute.

There is now an enormous range of Amarok models with price ranges from $24,990 if you work in hi-viz vests, blue shorts and boots, to a maximum of $53,990 if you want to look like a cool, outdoorsy dude while still enjoying car comforts.

Ignoring the work utes for now, Amarok comes in three levels of trim and equipment - Trendline, Highline and Ultimate, all of them dual-cabs. The Trendline, which starts at $30,590, is no bargain- basement spec - it is as quiet as the top-of-the-line version, just with less bits and pieces to play with.

The latest VW off-roader has a passenger car interior in terms of functionality and comfort, but has a far more robust practical feel. It's stuffed with airbags for the driver and passenger, including front side head/thorax units.

Most importantly, the chassis and running gear are all a generation ahead of the best competition from Japan.

The Amarok in family or work/home guise is powered by Volkswagen's dynamic 2.0-litre bi-turbo diesel four-cylinder, with up to 132kW of power and 450Nm of torque on offer.

Quite different to twin-turbos, the bi-turbo system usually has only one working, unless additional grunt is called upon.

In itself that's a bonus from a longevity point of view, as well as having a substantial hurry-up available on demand, but it's the transmission and traction options that firmly place this driveline in a class of its own. The eight-speed ZF auto transmission is a gem.

First gear, which is usually ignored by the box, is an ultra-low ratio, which with the torque- multiplying effect of the torque converter gets close to mimicking the low-range of other 4x4s.

Seventh and eighth gears are both overdrives. The result is that off-road and no matter what the surface, the VW will get enough power to all four wheels to keep you going.

On the highway, when you reach 110km/h, the unit settles into a loping 1800rpm with zero engine noise. It's a great way to stretch your diesel fuel investment.

Packaged with the driveline is a bagful of safety systems to enhance stability, traction and braking effectiveness.

Electronic stability, brake assist, an off-road version of ABS, anti-slip regulation, electronic diff-locks and an Off-Road Mode button which tunes all those features at one touch maximise your progress in the rough.

The VW Ultimate Amarok isn't so much a ute with a cab stuffed full of car features. It is an ultra-comfortable, ultra-safe and all-road five-seater that can also fit you and your family's lifestyle stuff in the back while still returning fuel figures of about 8.0L/100km.

The West Australian

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