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8-speed auto real deal maker in VW diesel 420 model Dual Cab auto Highline 4x4

December 17, 2013
8-speed auto real deal maker in VW diesel 420 model Dual Cab auto Highline 4x4

The VW Amorok diesel Dual Cab 4x4 impresses GoSee as a capable, quality, smooth, quiet, and comfortable tow vehicle. The Amarok is the first  Dual Cab Ute sold in Australia to get a twin turbo.

GSA tried the Trendline and the Highline. But this article is a specific impression driven by the diverse model options. So to nail it down we are talking about the Amarok Highline. This translates as the 420 model Dual Cab auto diesel Highline 4x4.

The Amarok range is all about choosing the specifications for the role the vehicle will play. For example to give that comment practical context in a vital area of 4x4 ability like clearance: The Trendline runs 16 inch alloys. The Highline runs 17 inch "Aldo" alloy wheels and the top of the range Ultimate runs 19 inch alloys.

The 8-speed auto transmission is the real deal maker in a quality product which leads the Ute group with its quietness, handling, finish and comfort levels and the bi-turbo does amazing things with the two litre diesel. The gearing in the TDI420 8-speed box makes the Amarok something of a magic carpet among Utes.

Final drive is 3.7 compared to 4.1 in the Amarok TDI400, 4.3 in the TDI340 and 4.3 in the TSI300 model.

Going up the TDI420 auto box the ratios are first 4.714, second 3.143, third 2.106, fourth 1.667, fifth 1.285, sixth 1, seventh 0.839 and 8th gear 0.667. This means the Amarok TDI is literally geared for anything asked of it.

The driver and front seat passenger get car-like comfort and the steering wheel has essential rake and reach adjustment. A multifunction display shows digital speed, range to empty, instant litres per 100km and average litres per 100km plus outside temperature, this is standard on 4MOTION models.

GSA's preference for the Highline Amarok option comes from the overall impressions of both sexes in our towing road touring group. The collective experience of our partners ranges from regular city peak hour travel to the Canning Stock route. One of our women has towed caravans further than most men.

The female reaction was short and sweet the Trendline lost to the 'touch of class' which comes with the Amarok Highline package.

VW impresses
VW impresses

There is unanimous agreement about the quiet comfort and easy handling of this capable work and play vehicle. GSA is hugely encouraged that this is VW's first crack at a Ute of this type. They have set a benchmark in the class right off the bat. Traditionally VW always does better so GSA is excited by the idea of what the global giant will come up with next.

Amarok Highline versions gain body-colour wheel-arch flares, a stainless steel sports bar in the cargo tub, alloy side steps, 17-inch alloy wheels, chrome accents (side mirrors and front bumper), dark privacy glass for the rear windows, chrome-plated rear bumper and rear parking sensors. Inside are chrome accents for the gear-lever, steering wheel and air-conditioning vents. The Highline has a multifunction instrument display and RCD 510 six-speaker audio.

There is general agreement that the 2014 version of the Amarok with satellite navigation adds another preferred option to the Amarok.

The GoSee impression of the Amarok Highline uses the current GoSee's 2010 Holden Colorado LT-R VCDi 3 litre 4x4 auto crew cab pickup as the benchmark. This impression is also colored to some extent by the towing performance of GSA1 the 2013, V6 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo 3 litre 4x4 5-speed auto diesel which is sometimes used to haul the 21ft GSA Blue Sky caravan.

"Capable" comment on the Amarok TDI420 includes a reality check on a section of the Geelong Ring Road which VicRoads says is - "The steepest (sustained grade) we want to go".

The 5 per cent section of about 2.5km from the end of the Hamilton Highway on ramp to the crest high above the long run down to the Waurn Ponds intersection sorts real 4x4 heavy haulers from the SUV pack. With the GSA Blue Sky Fairhaven Viento caravan snug on the Genuine VW towbar the Amarok shows stability and engineering class.

The Twin Turbo intercooled diesel 420 diesel 4 cylinder DOHC 16 valve 2 litre motor is a real surprise packet.

It is all about the gearing through the eight-speed gearbox and the Amarok's sustained torque profile. VW says 420Nm from 1750rpm. The twin turbo system spools up and the grunt hangs in. VW's 4MOTION all-wheel-drive is permanent in the Highline model and grunt combines with grip to provide smooth progress under load. The GSA Blue Sky caravan behind is 2500kg on a reliable weighbridge so this is no towing job for pretenders.

The auto Amarok entered the sustained climb at 100kmh and held that speed over the 2.5km. The auto box came down to 6th at the crest of the climb with the digital speedo steady on 100kmh throughout.

There is a pinch on the Geelong Ring Road just before the Highton-Ceres exit which leaves many trucks breathless but the Amarok dismissed that challenge. Usually when the GSA Holden Colorado auto LT-R VCDi 3 litre 4x4 diesel daul-cab ute is in harness to haul the GSA Blue Sky caravan at this point it is in third (5-speed box) at 80kmh.

Genuine Amarok towbars have a 3000kg braked towing capacity with a 300kg downball weight. VW says while towing up to 2.8 tonnes the Amarok can handle a 12 percent incline. With a one tonne payload in the tray VW says the Amarok can conquer hills with a 45 deg incline. Highline TDI420 dual cab has a payload of 960kgs and a cargo area of 2.52 square-metres with four tie-down points.

Heavy duty leaf springs are standard on all models. The heavy duty leaf springs allow a payload of more than one tonne. The Amarok Dual Cab has a 5-Star Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) rating. The TDI 2 litre diesel paired with the 8-speed automatic transmission produces 420Nm. It meets Euro 5 emission standards with VW claiming up to 1000km from the 80 litre fuel tank when it is not towing. The VW fuel figure for Combined fuel efficiency is 8.3 litre per 100 km.

GoSee would expect this to rise to about 14 litre per 100km in give and take towing depending on wind strength and direction, traffic conditions, road works, driver habits, the actual terrain and tyre pressures.

VW Amarok and GSA Blue Sky caravan
VW Amarok and GSA Blue Sky caravan

Current reports from caravanners towing with the Amarok support this view. The Amarok Dual Cab GSA tried has a 12.95-metre turning circle which will require some back and fill in tight places. Rear seating space is typical of the range of vehicles available in this class. More space would be better.

All models in the Amarok range come with Electronic Differential Lock (EDL), Anti-slip Regulation (ASR), Electronic Stabilisation Program (ESP), Hill Start Assist and Hill Descent Assist.

From the list of accessories GoSee would add towbar, side steps, RNS510 Satellite navigation system with its high-res 16.9 screen, genuine VW ABS canopy color coded to the paint finish, Media-In and connector cables, Roof bars with 100kg load capacity and carpet floor mats.


TDI420, 4 cylinder DOHC, 16 valves.

2 litres (1968cc).

Bore, stroke and compression ratio - 81.0 x 95.5/16.5:1.

Alloy head with cast iron block.

Maximum power KW 132 @ 4000.

Maximum torque Nm 420 @ 1750.


The Amarok Dual Cab has a 5-Star Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) rating.

Emissions standard Euro 5.


8-speed gearbox.

4MOTION (all-wheel-drive) permanent.

Battery 450Amp 95Ah.

Diesel common rail direct injection.

Fuel tank 80 litres.

Fuel cycle: 8.3 Combined, 10.1Urban, 7.3 Ex-Urban.

Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) 3040kg standard (heavy duty).

Towing capacity max 3000kg.

Towing downball load max 300kg.

Ground clearance 192mm with 4MOTION underbody protection.

Entry angle 28 deg.

Departure angle 28 deg.

Wading depth 500mm.

Figures quoted are for base model vehicles.

3 year unlimited vehicle warranty.

This includes VW 24 hour roadside assist.

Towing with a Weight Distribution Hitch (WDH) is not recommended by VW.

 "As the factory does not offer WDH as an option we are unable to recommend their usage on Volkswagen vehicles, given that our new vehicle warranty, like other manufacturers, only covers the use of Volkswagen genuine approved accessories", Public Relations Manager for Volkswagen Group Australia, Kurt McGuiness said.

"Any non-approved items  are not covered by the warranty. In turn, if these items affect other parts of the vehicle, the new vehicle warranty could be affected, or even voided" he said.

GSA tried the 2500kg  21ft Blue Sky caravan without a Weight Distribution Hitch (WDH) behind the Amarok Highline.

This aspect of our evaluation needs much more towing time across a range of  circumstances for GSA to have a firm opinion. Our limited impression is that the Amarok's anti-sway system kept the caravan in tow well under control.

The Amarok measured from the ground up,  through the centre of the wheel hub to the underside of the wheel arch, was  880mm at the front and 950mm at the rear  before we hitched  up the 2500kg caravan.

The Amaroks suspension dropped 50mm at the back and rose 20mm at the front with the caravan on the Genuine VW towbar. Despite weight coming off the Amarok's  front wheels with the caravan hooked on GSA had no concerns travelling without the Hayman Reese (WDH) we usually fit when we tow with the Holden Colorado  and Jeep Grand Cherokee. Steering and braking stayed well in touch with the road. GSA thinks the Amaroks Anti-lock Braking System  (ABS) which intervenes to allow the driver to brake and  steer simultaneously, is superior to any we  have used in a  vehicle of this type.

Acknowledgement - With the help of our generous sponsor Northstar VW, in Kippa-Ring, Queensland on the Redcliffe Peninsula GoSeeAustralia has put together this Information Article.

Sponsors cover the cost of staff time researching stories. It is through sponsors like this that GSA and GSNZ and their information library have remained free to users for the last 10 years.

Northstar Motor Group is one of South East Queensland's largest Chrysler, Jeep, and Dodge dealers.

For the second year running they have won the Fiat Chrysler Northern Metro Dealer of the Year.

Northstar traces its history back over 40 years when Alistair Stewart and Mal Wright Chrysler kicked off in Margate, another Redcliffe Suburb. Through owners Bob and Suzi Aldons, Northstar has grown to be one of the largest privately owned companies in the area, but hasn't lost sight of the importance of being a community member. Northstar Motor Group sells Chrysler Dodge, Isuzu Ute, Volkswagen, Alfa Romeo Fiat, Mahindra, Used Cars and  Jeep.

Editors Note: Congratulations to Cameron Semark, John Hooper and all the team at Northstar Chrysler Jeep Dodge. Northern Metro Dealer of the Year 2013 - second year in a row.