Volkswagen Amarok (2016-2020) Review

A pick-up truck with a more premium feel, the VW Amarok will be familiar to any Volkswagen car driver

Strengths & weaknesses

  • Passenger car quality
  • Good off-road ability
  • Well-equipped
  • Less economical than rivals
  • No single cab option
  • More expensive than other pick-ups
Limited Volkswagen Amarok stock available.

Where the Amarok once stood out in the pile of pick-up trucks for its premium build quality, car-like driving experience and surplus of interior gadgetry, it now has to fight off numerous contenders that plan to gobble a slice of the pick-up pie.

Volkswagen was quick to realise in 2011, when the Amarok was launched, that a new breed of buyer was turning to pick-ups to transport their bikes, lug jet-skis, and tow sailing equipment, rather than simply haul hay around a farmyard.

As a result, it gave the Amarok a passenger car quality with a relaxed ride and a stylish interior that helped it stand out against more rugged rivals such as the Toyota Hilux, Ford Ranger, Nissan Navara, Mitsubishi L200 and Isuzu D-Max.

Not wishing to be outsmarted, Volkswagen has been quick to reclaim its position and updated its flagship pick-up model with some fresh exterior styling, minor interior tweaks and a meaty new engine.

In fact, it is now only offered from new with the attention-grabbing 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine that comes in three states of tune as standard - 163hp, 204hp and 258hp, the latter only offered with permanent all-wheel-drive  and an eight-speed automatic gearbox.

This latest version is a reaction to Mercedes' new V6 and is one of the most powerful pick-ups on the market. It is available only on the mid-spec 2018 Highline and Aventura versions.

Impressive performance figures aside, the Amarok remains a stylish proposition inside and VW's now ubiquitous touchscreen entertainment system is present and correct, allowing drivers to use smartphone apps on the move thanks to multiple connectivity options.

In fact, it feels very much like any other VW product from behind the familiar wheel, yet it remains one of the most practical pick-ups you can buy, boasting a loading width of 1,222 mm that enables Euro pallets to be loaded crosswise.

There are some downsides including a limited array of trims that aren't really designed to withstand a building site beating, as well as a lack of more practical single cab or king cab variants.

Thanks to this, the Amarok is a lot more expensive than many of its commercial vehicles rivals, with prices for brand new entry-level models topping the £30,000 mark without any optional extras fitted.

That said, the limited range of powerful engines, the premium trim lines, the lofty price tag and the mighty range-topping V6 see it compete in a very narrow market of properly premium pick-up trucks.

Key facts

Warranty Three years / 100,000 miles
Load area 2.5 sq m
Width 1944mm
Length 5254mm
Height 1834mm
Tax £650 in first year and £250 thereafter

Best Volkswagen Amarok for...

Best for Economy – VW Amarok Trendline 3.0 V6 TDI 8-speed automatic

With just one engine on the table, it's difficult to snare something that is truly economical, but the entry trim model with the mid-range engine returns 34.9mpg on the combined cycle and produces the lowest CO2 emission figure

Best for Performance – VW Amarok Aventura 3.0 V6 TDI 258PS Permanent 4MOTION 8-speed automatic

This top of the range engine packs some impressive performance figures for the pick-up market, while an upcoming Aventura trim level will introduce 20-inch alloys wheels and much more.

Best for Families – VW Amarok Highline 3.0 V6 TDI 8-speed automatic

The mid-power 204PS engine brings small economy gains but is powerful enough for most situations. Mid-spec Highline trim has lots of creature comforts and styling features that raise it way above humble pick-up level to turn the Amarok into a reasonably comfortable family car without being too expensive.


  • 2011 The Amarok is launched in the UK.
  • 2012 The twin-turbo 2.0 BiTDI has a power upgrade to 180PS in late 2012.
  • 2014 The Amarok Canyon special edition is introduced, limited to 350 units.
  • 2015 The Amarok Atacama special edition is added to the range.
  • 2016: Dark Label models added and mild facelift of rest of range occurs
  • 2018: Range topping 258hp engine is introduced, alongside new Aventura trim level. Earlier top-spec Dark Label trim is dropped and the 224hp engine is replaced by the more powerful 258hp un

Understanding Volkswagen Amarok names

Trim level Trendline

There are currently three trims on offer: Trendline, Highline, and Aventura.

Engine 3.0 V6 TDI

The Amarok has a large, 3.0-litre diesel engine, what VW calls a TDI, with six cylinders arranged in a V formation. This arrangement smooths out vibrations and suits more powerful engines.

Four-wheel drive 4Motion

The Amarok has a large, 3.0-litre diesel engine, what VW calls a TDI, with six cylinders arranged in a V formation. This arrangement smooths out vibrations and suits more powerful engines.

Gearbox 6 speed manual

6-speed shows that the car has six gears. Customers can choose between a six-speed manual transmission on 163hp and 204hp models, which come with selectable 4-Motion all-wheel drive. An eight-speed automatic with permanent all-wheel-drive is available on 204hp models and above.

Volkswagen Amarok Engines

Diesel: 3.0-litre V6 TDI. 163PS, 204PS, 258PS

Pre-2017 models were powered by a 2.0-litre turbo diesel engine, available in two versions.

This base unit delivered 140hp with fuel consumption of 36.2mpg, and CO2 emissions of 205g/km. The more powerful option – available at Trendline and Highline trim levels – has an extra turbocharger for better performance, so the output is increased to 180PS.

This has the effect of reducing the 0-62mph time to 11 seconds and adding 10mph to the top speed. Fuel economy is marginally affected, lowering it to 35.3mpg, while CO2 emissions also increase to 211g/km. It’s an almost surprisingly powerful unit, considering the 2,108kg kerb weight of the Amarok, with lots of low-down urge. It’s also relatively refined for a commercial vehicle, cruising well at motorway speeds.

However, if you’re buying new there’s only the 3.0-litre turbo diesel engine, although it’s offered in three power outputs: 163PS, 204PS and 258PS. As of November 2018, the 258PS engine replaces the 224PS engine. The 163PS engine only comes with a manual gearbox but the 204PS is offered in manual or automatic forms, while the 258PS engine is automatic only. 

Regardless, the single engine line-up isn't exactly a bad thing, as it is powerful, refined and surprisingly economical given the heady power and torque figures buyers can choose from.

The most powerful 258PS engine emits 220g/km CO2 and manages a combined fuel economy figure of 33.6mpg. In comparison, its predecessor, the 224PS engine, returned 34.9mpg and 199g/km CO2.

By comparison, the Ford Ranger is no more efficient, with the 3.2 TDCi 200PS 4x4 auto returning 32.1mpg and 231g/km CO2. 

Above all else, Volkswagen should be praised for creating such a quiet, refined and easy engine to live with. No matter the power output, it stands head and shoulders above some of the cheaper rivals.





0 - 62mph

Top speed

3.0 V6 TDI 163PS 6-speed manual






3.0 V6 TDI 204PS 6-speed manual






3.0 V6 TDI 204PS 8-speed automatic






3.0 V6 TDI 258PS 8-speed automatic






Volkswagen Amarok Trims

Trendline, Highline, Dark Label, Aventura

The mid-life refresh saw an entry-level Startline trim option committed to the history books, as Volkswagen focused on delivering top quality standard equipment from the bottom of the range upwards. Meanwhile, at the other extreme, Dark Label has been replaced by Aventura.

Trendline is the new entry-level trim but its list of standard kit is long and exhaustive and includes a Composition Media DAB system with a 6.3-inch touch screen display, Bluetooth phone pairing, USB interface and aux-in socket.

Bear in mind navigation remains an optional extra across most of the range (it’s standard on Aventura) but this system can be controlled with voice and comes with a multimedia steering wheel to make operation easier. The floors on Trendline models are carpeted, the seats are covered in smart Kemisu fabric, there is state of the art air conditioning and the windows are electrically operated.

The Amarok is no bargain pick-up and Trendline echoes this fact with 17-inch alloy wheels, daytime running lights, privacy glass, and body-coloured door mirrors, handles and front bumper.

Other notable standard equipment includes cruise control, hill hold assist and remote central locking. Trendline is offered with the choice of 163hp and 204hp diesel engines, manual or automatic and selectable or permanent four-wheel drive.

Step up to mid-spec Highline and the Amarok gets smarter still, with Vienna leather upholstery throughout, heated driver and front passenger seats with individual control, four 12V sockets and silver dash trim. Bi-xenon headlights make an appearance outside, as does a chrome bumper, LED licence plate lighting and sidebars in stainless steel.

There are also 18-inch alloy wheels, heated washer nozzles, parking sensors and lots of chrome added to the front grille for a more premium look. This trim is also available with the most powerful 258hp diesel engine, as well as the mid-power 204hp unit. Both are automatics and permanent four-wheel drive.

Until recently (November 2018) Volkswagen offered a fully kitted out Dark Label model that comes with bespoke 18-inch alloy wheels, VW's Discover Media navigation system, a choice of Alcantara or leather upholstery and lots of moody black and carbon paint and trim throughout.

From November 2018 the top-spec trim is Aventura. Only available with the 258hp engine it takes pick-up luxury to a new level. Highlights include 20in alloy wheels, underbody styling, Nappa leather seats and a sat nav.

Volkswagen Amarok Reliability and warranty

All new Amaroks have an unlimited-mileage, three-year warranty. There are no mileage restrictions in the first two years, when the warranty is manufacturer operated, while the third year (and up to 100,000 miles) is the responsibility of the Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles Van Centre. 

Used Volkswagen Amarok

The Amarok has been on sale since 2011, meaning there are a few used examples around with a wide spread of ages and mileages.

Pre-2016 cars won’t have the 3.0-litre V6 engine as an option. If you are looking at pre-2016 cars we’d recommend the most powerful of the 2.0-litre engines as the less powerful models can feel a bit weedy. Startline trim has been discontinued, and was the most basic trim line - something to bear in mind when looking at used models.