Review: Volkswagen Amarok Aventura

What’s different about this latest addition to the top Aventura specification in Volkswagen’s Amarok ute range? Not a lot at first glance, until you take a look under the bonnet that is.

When it comes to powertrain availability in your common or garden variety light commercial ute, turbo diesel is the only way to go. Right? Volkswagen New Zealand doesn’t think so, with a new four-cylinder petrol option having been added to the top of their Amarok ute range.

Top-shelf power

The Volkswagen Amarok Aventura Turbo Petrol, to give it its full name, is technically the absolute tip of the top when it comes to the German brand’s five-model range.

That’s presuming you factor in power, as the turbo diesel Amarok Aventura has all the same techno-wizardry, off-road systems, and creature comforts onboard as the new truck; it’s just that the Turbo Petrol adds an extra 38kW to the pot (222kW versus 184kW in the V6 diesel ute).

Of course, the imbalance is righted again to a certain extent when you note that, naturally, the diesel donk is going
to give you weightier torque capabilities over the four-cylinder petrol: 600Nm versus 452Nm. Still, that’s a decent power and torque spread from a four-cylinder.


What does this feel like out on the road? ‘Smooth’ is the word that springs to mind. Between the silky acceleration of the petrol engine responding very crisply to input on the accelerator, and the 10-speed auto transmission (yes, 10 gears), you’re never wanting for a brisk shove along when required. There’s none of the lag that even the most refined turbo diesel utes oft display when pulling away.

With all those cogs to choose from, the transmission can feel a little busy at times, especially on a downhill. But for the most part, it gets out of its own way and provides for long consistent acceleration between shifts. And the diesel rattle (admittedly so much more refined in these latest generation utes than, say, a decade ago) is eliminated in favour of a petrol purr.

Tow terrain

Of course, the Torque deficit does beg the question about towing capability. Volkswagen New Zealand prides itself on delivering every Amarok with a tow bar included in the purchase price (a noble act in this towed toy-loving nation of ours). Wouldn’t the four-cylinder find itself a bit gaspy compared to the V6 diesel when it comes to lugging a tandem trailer filled with stuff?

To be completely transparent, as they say in government departments, we didn’t have the opportunity to tow anything during our brief stint with the Amarok and that would have been beneficial.

Our test ute featured an auto-sliding tonneau cover…

Every Amarok claims a 3500kg braked tow rating, the four-cylinder Turbo Petrol included, and there’s a special ‘trailer’ drive mode, which can be selected too (more on that in a bit). We’ve no doubt the four-cylinder would acquit itself perfectly and comfortably with something on the tow ball over a decent distance, although, it remains to be seen what this would do to the ute’s combined average fuel economy. In saying that, however, perhaps a driver opting for the Turbo Petrol wouldn’t be overly concerned about the fuel bill in the first place.

Off-road rules

There’s also Volkswagen’s proven 4MOTION four-wheel drive system to assist in keeping the ute well-mannered on the road with a load.

Standard across the entire Amarok range, 4MOTION provides for the full monty rough terrain tackle box. Drivers can choose between part-time or selectable 4WD. Part-time includes 2H, 4H, and heavy hitter 4L crawler mode. Available in the two top tier Amaroks — PanAmericana and Aventura — selectable 4WD includes a fourth 4A mode, which detects slippage under the wheels and engages all four wheels automatically.

Extra tech for battling unsealed roads, tracks, and fields is available in the new Turbo Petrol (and all V6 diesel models) in the form of six driving modes. ‘Normal’ and ‘Eco’ are self-explanatory, while ‘Slippery’ is still for paved roads where ice might be lying in wait. ‘Sand’ and ‘Mud/Ruts’ will help keep the vehicle stable and in motion off the sealed stuff, while the aforementioned ‘Cargo/Trailer’ recalibrates gearing for when there’s something of significance on the tow ball or in the wellside cargo tray.

A pretty impressive 800mm wading depth remains the limit for all Amarok variants.

…and a plush marine carpet-style tray liner

Premium with a punch

The new top-of-the-tree Amarok doesn’t deviate from the playbook where its exterior or interior design is concerned. In fact, the only difference between the V6 diesel and Turbo Petrol Aventura models is the latter’s 21-inch alloy wheels (the V6 diesel Aventura receives 20-inch rims).

Such is the lack of difference between the two powertrain options at the top of the range that Volkswagen New Zealand has chosen to go with one-price-suits-all. Like its diesel sibling, the Turbo Petrol Aventura will cost you $93,000 plus on-road costs.

Okay, that’s not an insubstantial sticker price (the base Amarok Life grade ute is $77,500 plus on-road costs), but naturally, you receive the full gamut of shiny stuff as a result.

Premium features include loads of extra chrome outside, including the signature Amarok X-Design bumper in silver. The ute’s standard side steps come with a chrome inlay, while the exterior mirrors, rear bumper, and door handles are all dressed in chrome as well.

Two-tone seat upholstery is a stylish touch

Inside, creature comforts include a heated steering wheel and Harman Kardon sound. Not exclusive to the Turbo Petrol Aventura, but the interior door grabs remain a nice feature, operated by an ergonomically pleasing ‘squeeze’ function. The interior offers up all the roomy comfort you’d want from an XL-sized double cab ute, even in the rear.

The top-of-the-line Aventura features Volkswagen’s full suite of driver assistance and safety tech. Highlights include Advanced Park Assist, Blind Spot Monitoring, Lane Keep Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control, and Autonomous Emergency Braking.

We also found Volkswagen’s Speed Sign Recognition software — which uses the forward-facing camera to detect when the posted speed limit changes — especially handy on a longer run between small towns, where the speed limit varies quite dramatically between rural and urban areas, often before you realise.

Plenty of chrome and 21” alloys denote the Turbo Petrol Amarok Aventura


Yes, turbo-diesel power has long been part of the accepted blueprint when it comes to light commercial utes. The last petrol truck we can think of in this class wore a Toyota badge and didn’t stick around for long in the model mix after
it launched.

But Volkswagen New Zealand has clearly decided there’s a market for a smooth-running petrol four in this country.
With so many similarities otherwise, there isn’t much in it: it’ll come down to your preference for powertrain and that might be an economic decision more than anything else.

The thoroughly updated V6 turbo diesel Amaroks offer a great, gutsy platform for work and play. Perhaps aimed more at ‘play’ than its diesel brethren, the Turbo Petrol Aventura still delivers on the good stuff on- and off-road and, what with its broad sweep of premium fit, finish, and technology, won’t leave you wanting more.

Images by Cameron Officer

Volkswagen Amarok Aventura Turbo Petrol Specifications

Engine2L four-cylinder turbo petrol
Transmission10-speed automatic
Kerb weight2396kg
Gross Vehicle Mass3300kg
Maximum braked towing capacity3500kg
Maximum unbraked towing capacity750kg
Overall height1884mm
Overall length5350mm
Overall width1910mm
Turning circle kerb-to-kerb12.93m
Approach and departure angles30°/26°
Unladen ground clearance217mm
Price$93,000 plus on-road cost

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