Commercial vehicles, and in particular crew cabs that can blur the lines between workhorse and family wagon have come a long way in the last few years. Toyota’s trusty Hilux, Nissan’s Navara and Ford’s Ranger are just some that spring to mind, however our latest test vehicle the Volkswagen Amarok Canyon could be the closest to a real world everyday SUV yet. Dripping in a beautiful orange metallic copper paint we watched as the Canyon was delivered to the office. The bright bodywork with additions of a black roll bar, rooftop light bar and 19-inch wheels certainly make the Canyon stand out. It’s very much an Amarok that has just about all the options ticked and inside the luxuries continue.
Two-tone heated leather seats with orange stitching, a neat three spoke muti-function steering wheel along with a touch screen NAV and entertainment system are just some of the accouterments that await you. Sitting into the cab, the driving position feels good and the height gives you a commanding view of the road and gracious retractable wing mirrors offer fantastic side vision. Sitting on the passenger seat we notice a spec sheet with pricing and thankfully I was sitting down! Priced at a shade over €56,000 the Amarok is not inexpensive considering a base model kicks off at €32,500. With this in mind I set out on a week’s test drive conscious that this is no cheap workhorse. You might be thinking that you could very easily buy a family SUV but if you plan to work the vehicle, then few would let you tow 3,000kg, carry a pallet and lock differentials to get you out of all sorts of difficult terrain.
Our first destination in the Amarok was Virginia in CountyCavan for an agri event, which would give us time to get properly acquainted. The 2.0 litre bi-turbo four-cylinder engine is as quiet as any modern TDi engine fitted to a passenger car. VW don’t skimp on bulkhead soundproofing and it’s very apparent even on cold startup. The 180hp engine is mated to a six speed manual gearbox, which is by far the smoothest and best spaced box I have tested in a crew cab. Some of the aforementioned pick ups have clunky almost van like gearboxes, which leave you under no illusions you are in a pure workhorse. The Amarok feels car-like to drive and out on the motorway it utilises the 420Nm of torque available to pull well through each gear allowing you to touch 100km/h in a shade over 10 seconds. Our first stop coming off the N7 was Parkwest to collect a half pallet of magazines from our distributer Newspread.
The Canyon rear flat bed has a lockable roller shutter to secure items but the pallet requires me to open this before loading. The rear leaf springs drop a shade as the load is applied and we get back on the road with some twisty B roads before we join the M3 for Cavan. The first thing I noticed was the already good handling Amarok got better with weight. That can’t be said for all crew cabs, but with a half pallet of magazines the weight distribution felt perfect and it felt planted on the road. Once on the M3 I did notice a problem though! When you get up around the speed limit the roof bar lights catch the wind and send noise through the cab. Whilst I love the look of the roof lights they make the Amarok sit 2.2 metres tall which rules out multi story car parks and add wind noise. On a plus, I’m sure they’d make navigating dark back roads in the depths of winter joyous.
Aside from the wind noise it was a pleasant trip to Virginia and an enjoyable week of driving with the AmarokCanyon. I got a quick chance to go off road before I dropped it back and it preformed admirably. Even in wet conditions the hill decent control made light work of gravel-strewn drops and the electronic diffs made climbing a doddle. My honest opinion is it would be hard to justify the €56k price tag of the Canyon edition but you won’t find a better crew cab to drive day in day out. My money would go on a black Amarok with a nice set of wheels and chrome roll bar from the options list. With the saving I could buy the wife a Volkswagen Polo!
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