Volkswagen Amarok 2019 Review: Ulitmate 580
Isaac Bober’s Volkswagen Amarok 2019 Review: Ultimate 580 with Price, Specs, Performance, Ride and Handling, Ownership, Safety, Verdict and Score.
In a nutshell: The Amarok Ultimate 580 is Australia’s most-powerful dual-cab ute and continues to be the benchmark in many areas but in others falls short.
Volkswagen Amarok Ultimate 580 Review Specifications
Price $71,990+ORC Warranty 5 years, unlimited kilometres Service Intervals 12 months, 15,000km Safety 5-star ANCAP rating Engine 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel Power 190kW at 3250-4500rpm Torque 580Nm at 1400-3000rpm Transmission 8-speed auto Drive Four-wheel drive Dimensions 5254mm (L), 1954mm (W), 1834mm (H), 3095mm (WB) Ground Clearance 192mm (claimed) Kerb Weight 2244kg Angles 28.0 degrees (approach), 23.6 degrees (departure), 23.0 degrees (rampover) Towing 3500kg Towball Download 300kg GVM 3080kg GCM 6000kg Spare Full-sized Fuel Tank 80L Thirst 8.9L/100km
This is the Volkswagen Amarok Ultimate 580 and it’s the top-spec model in the line-up priced from $71,990+ORC and with a tweaked version of the 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel making 190kW and 580Nm of torque. It’s Australia’s most-powerful production dual-cab ute.
WHAT’S THE PRICE AND WHAT DO YOU GET? For those wanting a V6 engine and permanent all-wheel drive it’s the Amarok V6 Core that you need to buy and it lists from $51,990+ORC. As the entry V6 model it’s not overly well equipped. Moving up to the Ultimate 580 which we’re testing, and gets the more-power V6 engine, you’re looking at $71,990+ORC but you do get more gear. For instance, standard are 20-inch alloys, metal pedals, leather, sat-nav, front and rear parking sensors and dual-zone climate control. There are other niceties, like side steps that incorporate LED lights to illuminate the ground when you’re approaching the car at night.
UNDER THE BONNET: Sure, you can get V6 versions of the Amarok that are cheaper than the Ultimate 580 but this is the only one that gets bragging rights as the most-powerful. The other Amarok V6s get 165kW and 550Nm of torque but this one gets 190kW and 580Nm of torque and, in the right conditions can overboost (or increase the pressure of the air being forced into the engine) for about 10-seconds and bump peak power up to 200kW. But this is all condition dependent, for instance, if it’s too hot overboost won’t occur and also on the gearing, you’ll need to be in third-gear at least. The engine is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission and gets it power to the ground via permanent all-wheel drive.
WHAT’S THE CABIN LIKE? The Amarok is around 5cm wider than most of its key competitors and nowhere is that more noticeable than in the cabin. It feels huge in here. The Amarok’s cabin has always been the benchmark for practicality, the fit and finish is excellent, there’s plenty of storage and while the plastics are hard and scratchy they don’t feel cheap or nasty and things like the felt-lined door bins are a touch of class few vehicles in this segment offer.
WHAT’S THE INFOTAINMENT LIKE? You get a 7.0-inch touchscreen with capacitive functionality, meaning as your finger gets close to the screen the menu will appear. You’ve got native sat-nav and Apple and Android connectivity with shortcut buttons around the outside. It misses out on live traffic updates but you can get that via Google maps on your smartphone. It’s a very simple and user-friendly system…and especially so when compared to the ridiculous system in the X-Class – review coming soon.
WHAT ARE THE FRONT SEATS LIKE? The Amarok gets some of the most comfortable seats in the segment and in our Ultimate 580 both driver and passenger get power adjustment, as well as the ability to stretch the seatbase for those of us with longer legs.
WHAT ARE THE BACK SEATS LIKE? Here in the back, the width of the Amarok, again, makes the space feel huge. The seat is comfortable and the seat back has a good lean on it with good leg and headroom. There are no rear airvents but there is a power outlet at the back of the centre console.
WHAT ABOUT THE TRAY? The tray is massive on the Amarok and the Ultimate gets a sprayed-on tub liner with sturdy tie-down points on the floor which is exactly where they should be – too many makers fit them onto the sides of the tray. The sports bar can also be used as a tie down point but you and while you don’t get a tail-gate assist as standard, you can get one cost optionally… and they’re worth it.
The tailgate will hold 200kg and from ground to tray it’s 708mm. The tailgate opening measures 1364mm, there’s 1222mm between the wheel arches and 1620mm to the rear of the tray, the length is 1555mm.
WHAT’S IT LIKE ON THE ROAD? It’s the 580Nm of torque that you’ll notice all the time. With peak torque arriving at 1400rpm progress is effortless and that’s whether you’re overtaking on the highway or driving up hills whether you’re on your own, the family is on-board or you’re towing. This is easily the nicest, smoothest and most flexible engine in the segment.
And the eight-speed automatic is excellent with smooth shifts that you’ll barely notice. And you won’t catch the transmission out either, it always just seems to be in the gear you want when you want. But, then, with a spread of peak torque from 1400 to 3000rpm this thing doesn’t have to work too hard to get anywhere easily.
Since the Amarok arrived here in 2010 it set the benchmark for how a dual-cab should ride and handle. And while other makers are getting close, the Amarok remains the goal other brands aspire to. Even on the Ultimate’s 20-inch wheels the Amarok soaks up hard-edged hits with none of the bouncing you get from other dual-cabs.
Our week with the Amarok coincided with a Ranger Wildtrak, and you can read that comparison later here, and where the Ranger would skip in the rear on mid-corner bumps or just shimmy slightly though the cabin on rough terrain, the Amarok, across the same roads and tracks was smooth.
Some have mentioned the steering is ‘slow’ but I don’t agree. There’s good feel and stability in the straight ahead and no slackness in the few degrees of movement off centre. Sure, the steering isn’t sports car quick but this is a big vehicle and so it’s fast enough, any faster and it would upset the balance. Indeed, as a package this is an incredibly quick vehicle that can be hustled along a twisting back road with confidence and joy.
WHAT’S IT LIKE OFF THE ROAD? This is where the Amarok departs from accepted norm that a 4×4 needs low-range. Instead, this thing has permanent all-wheel drive (Volkswagen calls it 4Motion) and an off-road mode that uses a low first gear for crawling around; this also engages hill descent control and recalibrates the ABS for a little slip to build a wedge of dirt ahead of the wheels to help the vehicle stop and there’s a rear differential lock but because it disables traction control on the front axle we didn’t use it. And, to be honest, the traction control is so well tuned that you’re best off trying obstacles without the rear locker…driven carefully, meaning slow and picking the right line, it’s likely you’ll run out of clearance before you run out of grip.
The Amarok offers the best throttle control of any dual cab ute on the market, and that goes for on- and off-road. The progression and feel through the pedal is excellent allowing you to crawl along at an idle with a traction control that works more quickly and effectively than just about anything in the segment.
In our test, we didn’t push the Amarok up any ridiculous tracks. Not that we didn’t think it would make it, rather that it wasn’t our vehicle so we needed to exercise some caution but also because the 20-inch wheels and thin road-oriented rubber aren’t really intended for off-roading. That said, we took it along a variety of tracks popular with touring four-wheel drivers and we didn’t have any problems. You can get 18s for the Amarok and if you were heading off-road they would be the way to go.
The Amarok V6 has around 192mm of clearance which isn’t amazing in the segment, most run 225mm of clearance, but, we only rubbed the belly once. A bog hole we drove through ended up being a lot deeper than I initially remembered but thanks to some decent bash plates underneath and all the car’s vital tucked up out of the way the Amarok made it through without too much fuss. That said, it’s angles better vehicles with more clearance, like Ranger and Triton, offering 28-degrees approach, 23.6-degrees departure, and 23.0-degrees rampover. And it’s wading depth (500mm) is equal to Triton but less than Ranger (800mm).
DOES IT HAVE A SPARE? Yes, a full-size spare underslung.
CAN YOU TOW WITH IT? Yes, a 2018 update re-rated the VW Amarok for 3500kg with a towball download of 300kg. This is not the usual 10% so, realistically, you’re better off looking at trailers up to the 3000kg mark rather than beyond.
But, just how much you can tow comes down to a variety of factors. For instance, Volkswagen quotes a GCM, or gross combination mass (the weight of the car, everything in it and the trailer) of 6000kg. The Ultimate 580 weighs 2244kg, so by the time you’ve hooked up 3500kg (we use the maximum braked capacity for our math) there’s a combined mass of 5744kg. That only leaves 256kg for people and luggage. And, if you’ve added a bulbar, or roof tray, etc then all of that has to be taken into account too. Once you’ve subtracted the towball mass from the payload then you’ll find you can’t legally get inside your vehicle and drive it.
WHAT ABOUT OWNERSHIP? Since late 2018 the Amarok benefits from a five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty. Servicing for an Amarok V6 occurs every 12 months or 15,000km. For the first five years or 75,000km services range in price between $515 and $878. In terms of issues with the Amarok, there have been the odd recall but none of the owner forums seem to suggest any consistent issues owners or potential buyers should be wary of…although all suggest sticking with regular maintenance. If you own an Amarok, let us know of any issues you’ve had with it, if any, by leaving a comment below.
WHAT SAFETY FEATURES DOES IT GET? This is where the argument against the Amarok starts to be built. See, while it maintains a five-star ANCAP rating it wouldn’t achieve that if it were tested today under the new, stricter criteria which requires active safety features like autonomous emergency braking to be eligible for a five-star rating.
And then there’s the lack curtain airbags to protect those in the back seat. But it’s not all bad news, because the Amarok still gets permanent all-wheel drive, disc brakes front and rear where most competitors only get drum brakes at the rear. It also gets trailer sway control, traction and stability controls, and multi-collision braking which automatically applies the brakes in the event of a collision to prevent you from being pin-balled into another vehicle. It also has tyre pressure monitors.