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WHAT CAR? Awards 2020

Added: 11 February 2020

Pick Up 2020

Pick-up trucks have become increasingly popular in recent years, thanks in part to some seriously tempting benefit-in-kind rates for company car drivers. Although the Volkswagen Amarok was relatively late to the party, it has become a popular choice. The Volkswagen badge obviously helps, but so do the Amarok's reasonable driving dynamics, strong engines and impressive load-lugging credentials.

Unlike some rivals that offer a variety of bodystyles, the Amarok is only available as a four-door with five seats. You're also limited to a sizeable 3.0-litre V6 diesel in two different power outputs, both versions of which come equipped with an eight-speed automatic gearbox and permanent four-wheel drive.

On the road, pick-ups can’t match conventional SUVs for driving pleasure or ride comfort. But how does the Amarok compare with rival pick-ups such as the Mercedes-Benz X-Class, Ford Ranger and Mitsubishi L200? Read on over the next few pages for our full verdict. And while we might not be able to save you any cash on a pickup, our New Car Buying pages has plenty of deals on SUVs and regular cars, too.

Performance & driveWhat it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

The Amarok is designed to carry huge payloads (more than a tonne) over rough and muddy terrain, and it fulfils that brief very well indeed. But you may be more surprised to hear that, while it doesn't match the driving dynamics of a conventional SUV, the Amarok is still deeply impressive on the road compared to its pick-up rivals.

Naturally, its sheer size and weight means there’s body roll even in gentle corners, but less than you get in almost all of its competitors. By pick-up standards it's great to drive, with light and accurate steering, decent grip and plenty of traction thanks to permanent four-wheel drive. The only truck that’s better in the bends is the Ford Ranger. Admittedly, other vehicles in this class have set the bar quite low for comfort, but the Amarok rides better than anything else you'd care to put it up against, and is especially impressive at higher speeds.

Another area where the Amarok stands out against its rivals is its cracking engine lineup. You have a choice between two mightily impressive 3.0-litre V6 diesel engines, with 201bhp or 254bhp. The latter version gives astonishingly brisk performance with 0-62mph taking a mere 7.4sec, while heavy loads are shrugged off with ease. However, the 201bhp version still gives punchier performance than almost any other pickup and is usefully cheaper to boot. It’s therefore our pick. Happily, both mate well with the eight-speed auto, with smooth shifts and far less hesitation when you put your foot down than many automatic SUVs, let alone pickups.

There’s plenty of wind noise on the motorway, although it's actually reasonably civilised by commercial vehicle standards. It's also worth mentioning that the Amarok is impressively stable when towing, with all models capable of pulling a braked trailer weighing up to 3100kg.

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