Volkswagen Amarok review (2020) | Parkers (2023)

It shouldn't be too difficult to choose yourself an Amarok, as almost every version offers satisfaction - although maybe stay away from the least powerful 2.0-litre engines if you're buying used. This is a pickup that's definitely best with plenty of muscle.

Best VW Amarok engine

Most customers buying new opt for high-powered engines. In 2018 the 224hp model took over 50% of sales, and now that's been discontinued, the 258hp Amarok is up to nearly three-quarters of all sales in 2019.

The 163hp V6 accounted for just 2% of sales until it was discontinued, making that look like a very sensible decision.

Best Amarok trim level

Highline is typically the most popular trim level, though special editions and even more highly specified variants also tend to do well.

VW Amarok individual model reviews

We've tested a large number of Amaroks since it was launched in 2011, and here you'll find individual model reviews that will further help you to decide which VW pickup is best for you.

Click on the links below to go straight to the review that most interests you:

  • VW Amarok 3.0-litre V6 Aventura 258hp review - tested May 2019
  • VW Amarok 3.0-litre V6 Dark Label 204hp review - tested May 2018
  • VW Amarok 3.0-litre V6 Highline 224hp review - tested October 2017
  • VW Amarok 3.0-litre V6 Trendline 204hp off-road review - tested April 2017
  • VW Amarok 3.0-litre V6 Aventura 224hp review - tested December 2016
  • VW Amarok 2.0-litre Canyon 180hp review - tested June 2015

In addition to this, we've also got a feature drive of the 258hp Amarok V6 in Oman, including desert off-roading, and a long-term test review of the 258hp Amarok Highline.

VW Amarok V6 Aventura 258hp review

Tested April 2019 by Lawrence Cheung

Volkswagen Amarok review (2020) | Parkers (1)

  • Special edition Amarok Aventura comes with added luxury
  • Larger 20-inch wheels, silver exterior highlights and rear sports bar
  • Other extras include bespoke mats and steering wheel paddles

Following the limited edition Dark Label tested below, the Aventura name makes a return into the Amarok range. This badge was last used on the launch edition of this posh pickup back in 2016 and it’s now made a comeback as the range-topping model.

Outside, you get larger 20-inch Talca wheels, additional chrome on the rear bumper and front grille, stainless steel side bars with integrated puddle lights and a body-coloured Aventura sports bar on the load bay.

Volkswagen Amarok review (2020) | Parkers (2)

No, the sports bar doesn’t translate into a personal drinking establishment, but equates to an additional piece of body work that could be viewed as the pickup equivalent of a rear spoiler – except, perhaps a bit more subtle and a bit more tasteful than say, a wing.

Engine choice is limited to the most powerful 3.0-litre V6 producing 258hp (with brief overboost moments of 272hp), mated to the eight-speed automatic gearbox and 4Motion permanent four-wheel drive.

Volkswagen Amarok review (2020) | Parkers (3)

Unladen weight increases from the Highline model’s 2,178kg to 2,260kg, which reduces the payload weight to 1,030kg - but performance and fuel economy figures remain the same.

Is the VW Amarok Aventura good value?

You can buy the Aventura for £39,640 (excluding VAT)*, and while this looks expensive, the cheapest Mercedes-Benz X-Class fitted with a V6 diesel engine is priced in this region, too – start adding a few choice options to that and the price quickly soars upwards.

But while the Amarok Aventura compares well in value against the Mercedes-Benz X-Class, it’s a little more difficult to argue for compared with the rest of VW’s pickup range.

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With a £4,260* premium over the Highline model that sits below it, this equates to a price hike of more than 12% over an Amarok with the same engine output and automatic gearbox.

You’ll have to decide whether that leap in price is worth the cosmetic upgrades.

Does the Volkswagen Amarok Aventura work as a lifestyle pickup?

If you want maximum kudos points for style, the Aventura certainly scores well on the outside with that sports bar and its 20-inch wheels.

The larger wheels have little effect on the ride quality, thankfully, and it would take driving a smaller-wheeled version back-to-back to notice the difference.

Volkswagen Amarok review (2020) | Parkers (5)

Otherwise, it’s business as usual for the Amarok. There are no mechanical changes on this version, which means effortless pace and great long-distance comfort. The X-Class V6 is better at suppressing engine noise from entering the cabin and has better body control, but the ponderous Mercedes automatic gearbox and firm ride frustrates.

Verdict: Should I buy a 258hp Volkswagen Amarok Aventura?

The Aventura sprinkles a little more design flair over the standard Amarok but you’ll need deeper pockets for those added looks. While this top-spec Amarok compares well in price alongside the V6-engined Mercedes X-Class, the standard, cheaper Amarok models are already so capable that they represent far better value.

*All prices correct at time of writing

VW Amarok V6 Dark Label review

Tested May 2018 by CJ Hubbard

  • Limited edition pickup based on Highline driven
  • Unique visual features and extra equipment
  • Smooth 204hp V6 and eight-speed auto as standard

Dark Label may sound like a brand of instant coffee, but it is in fact a special edition version of the VW Amarok pickup truck.

This V6 version (there was an earlier Amarok Dark Label with the four-cylinder engine) wasfirst announced back in September 2017as a European limited edition; it was then confirmed for sale in the UK in early 2018, ahead of starring onthe Volkswagen standatthe CV Showin the same year.

Now we’ve got our hands on one for a review – read on to find out whether it’s likely to be your cup of tea…

What’s special about the VW Amarok Dark Label?

Limited edition pickups with blacked-out paint and accessories seem to be very much on trend at the moment.

The Amarok Dark Label is very much of this breed – except that in its purest form it eschews the standard actual black paint finish in favour of a Carbon Steel grey metallic finish that’s exclusive to this model.

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You can have a black one, though, and if you really want to make carwash day a pain in the backside, an Indium Grey matte paint option is available, too.

Other obvious visual mods include a rather intricate set of 18-inch ‘Rawson’ alloy wheels (you’ll need to get the toothbrush out to keep those properly clean), Dark Label graphics down the side, so-called ‘underbody styling’ elements (fake skid plates, basically) and a matte black rear styling bar.

This last is complemented by side bars below the doors, door mirrors, door handles and rear bumper that are all also finished in matte black.

VW says ‘the Dark Label model has exceptional road presence’. We’re not about to disagree, but it certainly isn’t subtle, either.

Any interior upgrades for the VW Amarok Dark Label?

Oh, yes. The seats are covered in suede-like Alcantara – upgraded to Vienna leather in our test vehicle – the rings round the air vents are coated in ‘chrome silk gloss’, and the ceiling is lined in black, a detail borrowed from the range-topping 258hp Amarok.

Dark Label floor mats spruce up footwells, the front seats get lumber adjustment and the dashboard gets Deep Inox trimmings.

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But perhaps most significantly, standard equipment includes VW’s Discovery Media infotainment system with sat-nav – plus automatic lights and wipers, heated power-folding electric door mirrors, and an upgraded instrument cluster.

The Dark Label is based on the existing, generously specified Highline trim level, so buyers will also enjoy front and rear parking sensors with rear-view camera, cruise control, air-conditioning and bi-xenon headlights.

What’s the VW Amarok Dark Label like to drive?

The Dark Label is only available with the 204hp V6 TDI turbodiesel engine but that’s one of those uses of the word only that should really have quotation marks round it. This is still among the fastest, most effortless pickup trucks you can buy today.

The effortless part is helped by the eight-speed automatic gearbox, which is fitted as standard on this model, and the engine’s considerable 500Nm of torque. The auto means you get permanent four-wheel drive as well.

The suspension is comfortable enough for most road surfaces, too, and though the softness here does mean it rolls around a bit in the corners that’s a trade-off we’d be prepared to make for day-to-day comfort.

Verdict: Should I buy a VW Amarok Dark Label?

VW is only planning to sell around 200 Dark Label Amaroks in the UK, priced from £33,650 basic – so if you haven’t already ordered you might be too late to get one new.

If you can find one in dealer stock, however, we think the £2,750 extra it costs over an equivalent 204hp Amarok Highline is more than acceptable for the additional equipment, unique features and exclusivity you get in exchange.

On the other hand, if you can’t get one, it’s not as if an ordinary Highline is a poor alternative; a 224hp version costs less than the Dark Label, too, which ought to be enough to compensate for the less eye-catching appearance.

Advice for buying a used VW Amarok Dark Label

If you’re looking at a used example, in addition to all the usual second-hand vehicle advice, make sure all the unique Dark Label features – such as the floor mats – are present and correct, and that you consider the price carefully.

We’d expect a slight premium over an ordinary Highline model, but make sure this properly reflects the condition of the vehicle in question, and isn’t out of line with depreciation of the original cost difference detailed above.

VW Amarok V6 Highline 224hp review

Tested October 2017 by CJ Hubbard

Volkswagen Amarok review (2020) | Parkers (8)

  • Range-topping VW pickup tested
  • 224hp, 550Nm, eight-speed auto, 4WD
  • Can the X-Class possibly be better than this?

Make way, proles – this here is the range-topping Volkswagen Amarok Highline, and we’ve got it in for review as a timely reminder that the Mercedes X-Class isn’t quite as ground-breaking as the hoopla surrounding its introduction would have you believe.

For when it comes to properly premium pickups, VW most certainly got there first. And what the VW badge lacks in ultimate prestige versus that aspirational three-pointed star, the Amarok more than makes up for with its individual platform and now exclusively 3.0-litre V6 engine range.

After all, while the X-Class may say Mercedes on the back, it’s proving hard for some people to ignore that underneath the veneer of glamour it is still basically a Nissan Navara in a frock that isn’t quite as fancy as they were hoping.

The X-Class also doesn’t get its headline V6 power until sometime in 2018, whereas the Amarok is available to buy right now.

Let’s take the Highline model for a ride.

What is the VW Amarok Highline?

The Highline is top of the standard Amarok range – replacing the limited edition Aventura as the best version of VW’s pickup you can get. Although, this isn’t actually saying that much as the moment, as the only other Amarok model you can currently buy in the UK is the mid-spec Trendline.

Volkswagen Amarok review (2020) | Parkers (9)

However, at the time of writing, the Highline is available with two versions of the Amarok’s 3.0-litre V6 TDI turbodiesel – one with 204hp and 500Nm, as fitted in the Amarok Trendline too, the other with 224hp and 550Nm, as tested here.

Each of the above features permanent 4Motion four-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic gearbox. Already you start to see why it commands such high prices.

What’s good about the VW Amarok V6 Highline?

Looks are always subjective, but honestly, is there a more handsome truck on the market? And while it can’t quite match the Navara’s sharp handling, in every other respect the Amarok Highline’s driving experience is practically sublime.

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The engine has so much torque it’s almost silly. The suspension is quite soft, so it can speedboat a bit if you really gun it – pointing its nose to the sky as you hurry to meet motorway speeds down a slip road – but it’s unlikely you’ll ever find yourself wishing it had more performance.

More than this, that softish suspension delivers a surprisingly comfortable ride – not just for vehicles fitted with old school leaf springs but pickups in general. Some may find it a touch floaty, but for us this suits the Amarok’s generally laidback attitude.

What’s bad about the VW Amarok Highline?

Some moan about the quality of the interior you get for the money – though for us this has significantly improved alongside the introduction of the V6 engines. And besides, we’d happily trade the occasional hard plastic finish for the Amarok’s excellent ergonomics and ease of use.

VW’s infotainment systems always work very well, for example, and the seats are nicely supportive front and rear. Sorry, this is supposed to be bad stuff, isn’t it?

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Ok, well, on the more practical side, it remains disappointing that the VW isn’t able to tow 3.5 tonnes like the class leaders.

Similarly, while the four-wheel drive hardware is more than capable of tackling moderate off-road work, ground clearance is only modest.

Verdict: Should I buy a 224hp Amarok V6 Highline?

We want one. If we could afford one, we’d buy one. The refinement, the ride comfort, the performance and the enormous load area all count in the Amarok’s favour – and aside from needing plenty of room to park, it’s mostly like driving a Golf. Albeit one that could beat the traffic in front by going over it. And the Highline is the cream of the current crop.

VW Amarok V6 Trendline 204hp off-road review

Tested April 2014 by Adam Binnie

  • VW’s V6 Amarok driven in Trendline spec
  • Comes in lower-powered 204hp output
  • Manual gearbox and smaller asking price too

The V6-powered Volkswagen Amarok in its high-spec Aventuraguise makes a strong case for itself as a large-car rival, rather than a commercial vehicle.

In more workaday Trendline, however, it feels much more rugged, offering lower running costs and a less glitzy exterior that seems to suit a loadbed full of sand.

Lower-powered V6 still feels mighty

Volkswagen reckons the new Amarok is more like an SUV than before, with higher-quality materials in the cabin, plus smooth performance and handling.

We can certainly attest to the latter elements; the 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine is a seriously refined and suave bit of kit, having previously seen service in the business-class Audi A6.

The version we drove in Germany came with a manual gearbox and 204hp.The six-speed transmission feels very much like it’s from a VW car rather than a commercial vehicle – with a light action and relatively short throws it is a stark contrast to more industrial rivals like the Isuzu D-Max.

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The automatic gearbox of course wins in overall ease of use but the manual option represents less of a penalty than you’d expect.

Currently this 204hp output is the lowest-powered Amarok – crazy when you consider it’s actually much more potent than anything from the pickup's previous generation. That means it’s plenty fast enough, with an identical 3.1 tonne towing capacity as the 224hp version, and a marginally higher payload of 1,154kg.

Off-road ability unchanged

We’ve already reviewed the Amarok Aventura launch edition and were impressed by its ruggedness, and it’s great to see much of that carries over into this lower-spec version.

The 4Motion system offers permanent four-wheel drive with a 40:60 split on automatic Amaroks and a selectable system for manuals – this is controlled using a panel of switches near the gearshift.

Volkswagen Amarok review (2020) | Parkers (13)

A central Torsen diff shuffles the power around between the front and rear axles and electronic differential locks help maximise traction -a rear mechanical diff remains an option. Clearance angles of 29 degrees at the front and 24 degrees at the rear mean steep inclines of up to 100 per cent can be scaled, even when fully loaded, too.

Verdict: Should I buy a VW Amarok V6 Trendline?

The £26,255 version costs is certainly easier to swallow than the near-£40,000 price tag for the Aventura model we drove previously.*

Mid-spec Trendline doesn’t feel quite a luxurious or quick but it’s still a fair distance ahead of its main rivals in both departments.

*All prices correct at time of writing

VW Amarok V6 Aventura 224hp review: first V6 test

Tested December 2016 by Adam Binnie

  • Facelifted pickup comes with new, 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine
  • Aventura launch edition comes packed with kit, including sat-nav
  • Not cheap but as close to luxury as a pickup gets

Volkswagen reckons its changes to the Amarok are more organ transplant than facelift. It looks broadly similar from the outside but there are big changes under its skin, and particularly beneath the bonnet.

Having previously offered a variety of power outputs from the same 2.0-litre, four-cylinder diesel engine, the VW now boasts a burly 3.0-litre V6.

Changes inside and out for 2016 VW Amarok

This updated model features interior and exterior improvements including a revamped dashboard andinfotainment systemthat makes it more car-like than ever, plus a new front bumper and grille, a third rear brake light, and of course the larger powerplant.

Around the back is the same cargo bay (measuring 1550mm long and 1620mm wide) with enough room between the wheel arches for a Europallet and a lashing ring in each corner.

A gross vehicle weight of 3,290kg means a payload of 1,114kg on this model. The 3,100kg towing capacity lags slightly behind rivals.

New V6 engine details

From launch you’ll be able to pick either 204hpor 224hp with an eight-speed automatic gearbox.

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The top-spec 224hp version we drove has an overboost function, deploying an extra 20hp for up to ten seconds in response to hard acceleration. As such it’s a seriously rapid machine, dispatching 0-62mph in 8.0 seconds, and making light work of overtaking manoeuvres.

More impressive, however, is the sheer in-gear grunt, due to the larger capacity of the engine. It’s less reliant on theturbochargerso boasts 550Nm oftorquefrom a lowly 1,400rpm. Press the accelerator pedal halfway to avoid the gearbox kicking down and the Amarok hauls itself horizonward with impressive urgency and hushed refinement.

Driven like this the VW is quiet and smooth. There’s a bit of diesel clatter at low revs, particularly under partial accelerator load, and it's noisier at the top end. In the mid-range the only noise is a bassy burble from the exhaust and a whistle from the turbocharger.

Luxurious interior and tough off-road ability

VW says the Amarok is largely bought by people who already own one of its cars so it’s no surprise to find it has the same sort of quality, well screwed-together cabin.

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The new-look dashboard is constructed from tough, hard-wearing plastics that have a quality feel and appearance, and our car features a touchscreen with sat-nav, smartphone connectivity, and Car Net – an online service featuring news, traffic and fuel prices,

The 4Motion system delivers permanent four-wheel drive with a 40:60 split on automatic Amaroks. There’s an off-road mode and electronic differential lock to help find grip when the going gets rough, plus an optional mechanical diff if you plan to go into the wilderness.

We drove around a technically tricky and tight off-road course and were impressed by the Amarok’s ability to heave itself out of boggy mud and chassis-twisting ruts.

Verdict: should I buy a VW Amarok V6 Aventura?

It’s hard not to enjoy driving this powerful pickup but you’d need to have a serious think about whether you need such performance from a workhorse like this.

For on-road refinement though it’s hard to fault, and an impressive ability off-road means there’s no compromise in utility.

VW Amarok 2.0-litre Canyon 180hp review

Tested June 2015 by Liam Campbell

Volkswagen Amarok review (2020) | Parkers (16)

  • Special edition VW pickup limited to 350 vehicles
  • Features over £8,500 worth of extra equipment
  • Prices start from £28,990 (ex VAT)*

When the Amarok goes all glitz and glam, it not only turns heads, it creates awe. And that’s exactly what the Canyon does, with its 19-inch Cantera alloy wheels, high-gloss black side styling bars, matt-black roll cover and spot lights.

Attractive interior

We felt there were one or two creature comforts left out of the Canyon that you would have expected with the £28,990 (ex VAT) price tag. This is partly due to the spec being based on the mid-level Trendline, and not the Highline. Electrically adjustable seats and reversing cameras are two such examples, but for the most part, Volkswagen has the main areas covered.

In addition to the radio with MP3 and auxiliary inputs, air-conditioning, cruise control and fog lights included on the Trendline, the Canyon also features sat-nav with a 6.33-inch colour touchscreen, Bluetooth, unique styling bars and heated leather seats.

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What took us most by surprise was the finish; the two tone leather interior with orange stitching gives a stylish and captivating finish to the cab, rarely seen outside of the performance car circle.

On the road

On paper, the 2.0-litre bi-turbo makes for good reading, churning out 180hp and 420Nm of torque, but in reality we found it to be lacklustre when compared to similarly powered pickups, like the 3.0-litre Hilux.

An explanation for this can be found by looking at the torque and power curves. The power and torque reach high peaks, but fall rapidly either side which results in the lethargic performance.

Volkswagen Amarok review (2020) | Parkers (18)

Having said that, the Canyon is a very capable performer on and off the road. The eight-speed automatic transmission is quick and incredibly smooth, and makes light work of stop-and-start city traffic.

The Amarok Canyon also comes with Bluemotion Technology which features low rolling-resistance tyres, a stop-start function and regenerative braking systems. Along with the aerodynamic-boosting cargo cover, this helps the vehicle provide greater economy and lower emissions.


The new Amarok Canyon can be ordered from any of the Volkswagen Van Centres nationwide. A limited number of 350 vehicles have been allocated for the UK; 300 of which are eight-speed automatics and 50 are six-speed manuals. Retail prices start from £28,990 (excluding VAT) for the manual transmission and rise to £30,720 (excluding VAT) for the automatic transmission.*

*All prices correct at the time of writing

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