2023 Volkswagen Amarok Style TDI600 Review

The Ford Ranger based Volkswagen Amarok has FINALLY DROPPED! But, at a premium price, can it claim to be the best ute to buy? Let's see!

Matt Brand
Expert reviewer
Updated on
February 9, 2024
Saucey score


  • Premium feeling interior
  • Class leading V6 engine
  • Fantastic body control (for a Ute)


  • Expensive for a Ute
  • Stiff ride
  • Questionable build quality
Car specs

184kW + 600Nm



5 Star ANCAP

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Volkswagen just dropped the hottest mixtape of the year – in the form of the all-new Ford Ranger based Amarok.

Gone is the long-lived first-generation Amarok which launched way back in 2010, which was a favourite of those wanting a premium offering in the segment; an SUV with a tub, if you will.

And while the new Amarok does share a lot with the all-new Ford T6 platformed Ranger, it is significantly different in a few ways.

Interestingly, Volkswagen say that the exterior and interior were designed in almost total isolation to the Ford Ranger development team – and we can believe that, and by the end of this review you probably will too.

Although we have a full comparison between the Volkswagen Amarok and Ford Ranger coming soon, we need to answer the question: is the new VW Amarok worth your hard-earned cash, especially in such a hotly contested segment?

It’s complicated, so let’s get into it!

How much does the Volkswagen Amarok cost?

As far as Utes go, the Volkswagen Amarok is at the top-end of pricing.

But then again, Volkswagen will tell you that it is at the top-end of the class (a claim that’s frankly mostly true).

Today we are testing the Style grade of the Amarok, which is a middle-ranged variant with a relatively hefty price tag.

Here’s the range (note: prices exclude on-roads)

Amarok Core 2.0 TDI405 4Motion:

  • Manual: $50,990
  • Six-speed auto: $52,990
  • Key features: 20 driver-assist systems, nine airbags, LED headlights, 10.1-inch portrait touchscreen, adaptive cruise control, wireless charging, and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity.

Amarok Life 2.0 TDI500 4Motion 10-speed auto: $56,990

  • Key features: Twin-turbo diesel engine, fog lights, auto-lock tailgate, improved driver-assist safety.

Amarok Style:

  • 2.0 TDI500 4Motion 10-speed auto: $66,990
  • 3.0 TDI600 4Motion 10-speed auto: $70,990
  • Key features: Matrix LED headlights, dual-zone climate control, 12-inch touchscreen, optional 3.0L V6 turbo-diesel.

Amarok PanAmericana 3.0 TDI600 10-speed auto: $75,990

  • Key features: Off-road-oriented design, unique front bumper treatments, upgraded leather, dynamic suspension package.

Amarok Aventura:

  • 3.0 TDI600 4Motion 10-speed auto: $79,990
  • 2.3 TSI452 4Motion 10-speed auto: $79,990
  • Key features: 21-inch wheels, luxurious leather interiors, additional chrome detailing, choice of petrol or diesel engine.

It should be noted that while the Amarok range offers an extensive list of features, there are certain features offered by competitors, such as the Ford Ranger, that are missing. These include the overhead auxiliary switchboard for future accessories, a side tub step, outboard dash cupholders, and 4WD-ing data from Wildtrak up.

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What do we think of the exterior looks of the Volkswagen Amarok?

There is no denying the Amarok is a handsome Ute.

Often, because the main buyers of Utes are blokes, the design is hyper masculine. I would describe the Amarok as classy.

Volkswagen say that the Amarok design team was based in Australia, working on the Amarok but in isolation from the Ranger design teams. And yeah, I can believe that. The Amarok and Ranger look wildly different.

For this Style variant and above, you do get matrix-LED lights. They are decently bright but are certainly not as bright as the Ford Ranger it is based on (more on that in our upcoming comparison, stay tuned!)

The side is boxy and utilitarian, with the only let downs being plastic side steps and a lack of toe well like you’ll find on the Ranger. Missed smart ideas like make me think Volkswagen were telling us the truth about isolated designs.

The rear does look very smart, I love those tail-lights and the embossed AMAROK badge into the tailgate. More on that later.

What’s the interior and connectivity like of the Volkswagen Amarok?

If you’re going to be paying more for an Amarok vs an equivalently spec’d Ranger, you’re going to expect a better interior. And in a lot of ways, it certainly is more premium.

The design is totally different to the Ranger, and in a good-way. You have contrasting colour and materials, so it isn’t just a monotone black interior.

The soft touch materials on the dash – important for soaking up road-noise – extend the length of the dashboard, the armrests and other touchpoints.

Not to mention the seats. Now, we do have the $3000 Leather Seat package but it does mean both the driver and passenger seats are electrically adjusting, more importantly, with under-thigh adjustment. This is not present in the Ranger Wildtrak, currently the top-spec until the Platinum arrives later this year.

The seat leather is soft and supple, with Volkswagen claiming they have integrated their own seats into the production line – a claim we can believe.

The other highlights are the 12” digital instrument cluster, which is different from the Ranger. It is extremely high definition, responsive enough and shows plenty of information.

And the steering wheel is also entirely different, with a softer leather and totally VW design. Also a fun fact, the indicator (despite being the exact same physical switch as the Ranger) is on the left… how European.

It certainly is not all roses though.

The ergonomics of the interior are a let down, and the Ranger simply does it better.

For whatever reason, the cupholder have been placed underneath the centre armrest, so grabbing drinks out of them is more difficult then it needs to be.

The gear selector has also been moved to the centre, as has the trailer controls, and that means that when the gear selector is in park it can be difficult to retrieve your phone from the wireless charger.

The 12” infotainment display – which to be fair seems to be faster responding than the Ranger and works flawlessly – has had the climate controls completely placed within the screen. It is one of those unnecessary ‘minimalisms’ takes that does nothing for useability, in fact it just worsens the experience at best and is more dangerous at worst.

Build quality too is questionable. The upper glovebox (it’s a split design) does not fit properly and is raised on one side. There are panel gaps around the interior too, and the centre armrest able to be opened without pulling the locking latch.

Hopefully, these quality issues will be ironed out in the second or third year of production like many cars often are.

Complaints aside, there is no doubt that it is a nicer overall interior space to sit than a Ranger – and more importantly, feels truly European – a feeling you certainly pay for!

There is no doubt, however, that the interior is class leading and sets a new benchmark for Ute interiors.

What about the Back seats of the Volkswagen Amarok?

Like up-front, sitting in the rear seats is a pleasure.

At 5’11” I have plenty of leg-, head- and toe-room. The seats also have extra leg support extending further than Ranger which is great.

I do wish you got more than just a 12v socket in the back. Especially since the ranger gets a USB-C and USB-A port for the rear.

You do have underfloor storage, though curiously VW have placed the tire change kit in the cubbies so that eliminates that space for personal storage.

Minor gripes.

How much can it fit in the tub of the Volkswagen Amarok?

The 2023 Volkswagen Amarok NF has a cargo bed which is designed to fit a pallet between the wheel arches. Depending on the specific model, the cargo bed liner may be bare metal, a plastic tub liner, or a spray-in bed liner.

The Aventura model, which is at the top of the range, includes a roller cover for the cargo bed which is power-operated and can be controlled using the vehicle's key.

The tailgate of the Amarok NF is equipped with a counterweight, which makes it easier to open.

What’s under the bonnet of the Volkswagen Amarok?

Across the VW Amarok range are a choice of 4 engines.

In the 2023 Volkswagen Amarok, a variety of engines are offered, each providing a different level of performance to cater to varying needs and preferences.

The base model is equipped with the TDI405 engine, a 2.0-litre single-turbo four-cylinder diesel engine capable of producing 125kW of power and 405Nm of torque. Power is transferred to the wheels through either a six-speed manual or automatic transmission, complemented by a 4Motion four-wheel drive system with selectable 2H, 4H, and 4L modes.

The TDI500 model steps up the power with a bi-turbo 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel engine that generates 154kW of power and 500Nm of torque. This version is paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission and a selectable four-wheel drive system for enhanced performance.

For those seeking even more power, the TDI600 version features a 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 diesel engine, delivering 184kW of power and 600Nm of torque. This engine is mated with a 10-speed automatic and offers full-time four-wheel drive for maximum traction.

A petrol variant, the TSI452, is also available, featuring a turbocharged 2.3-litre petrol engine that generates 222kW of power and 452Nm of torque. This engine is coupled with a 10-speed automatic and full-time four-wheel drive, offering a performance-oriented alternative to the diesel options.

Regardless of the chosen variant, all Amarok models are equipped with an 80L fuel tank. Importantly, the Amarok does not require AdBlue, a fluid used in some diesel vehicles to reduce emissions. This can simplify maintenance and reduce running costs for owners.

How does the Volkswagen Amarok drive?

We tested the Amarok across a variety of surfaces from Melbourne CBD to rough and tumble rural roads.

Volkswagen say that they have tuned the Amarok to give you confidence behind the wheel through stiffer dampers and quite substantially different suspension tuning.

Unfortunately for us, it means that our biggest takeaway from the Amarok was its firmness. There is no doubt when you turn it around a corner, it is one of the best handling Utes out there. But that does come at the expense of being a stiff ride.

We’ll expand more on this is in our comparison soon, but it is totally different in approach to the Ford Ranger.

The stiffness of the ride, however, does it give it a very euro-feel. Which is clearly the appeal for people willing to fork out the extra cash for an Amarok over the Ranger.

Apart from its stiffness though, the Amarok is a class leader in ride too. The interior experience is quiet, more importantly, the turbo V6 provides a much smoother experience than the previous Amarok.

Although we do miss the outright speed of that outgoing engine, the new Ford V6 is such a solid engine it’s hard to fault it.

Perhaps if you are hoping for good fuel economy, you will be disappointed. On our mix of testing we struggled to maintain 11L/100km, with highway speeds netting around 10L/100km. Not a deal breaker though, that’s clear.

Steering is very heavy for a ute, but that’s apart of its appeal. You get a lot of feedback from the road, so for a big body-on-frame Ute it’s surprisingly nimble.

However, we do implore you to drive the Amarok back-to-back with the Ranger to make sure you prefer the Amarok’s firmer, sharper ride to the softer, more comfort focused Ranger tune.

How does the Volkswagen Amarok perform off-road?

The 2023 Volkswagen Amarok is touted as the most capable version of the truck when it comes to off-road prowess, and based on initial reports, it seems to handle the rough and tumble with aplomb.

While we didn't get the chance to personally test out the Amarok's off-road credentials, it's designed with several features that promise an excellent off-road performance. The digital dashboard clearly communicates all mode shifts, making it easy for drivers to adapt to changing conditions.

Additionally, preset Mud and Ruts or Sand modes are available, simplifying the off-road experience for those less familiar with such terrain.

Despite these assets, it's worth noting that the Amarok doesn't come with the same off-road camera system seen in the Ranger. The forward-facing camera is unable to operate while the vehicle is moving, which could be a drawback on tight trails and over blind crests where this technology can be particularly helpful.

However, Volkswagen emphasizes the Amarok's enhanced off-road specifications as proof of its ability to tackle challenging environments. The truck boasts improved ground clearance of 235mm and a wading depth of 800mm, along with decent approach and departure angles (30 and 25.6 degrees respectively).

These specs, along with the reported ease with which it managed an off-road course during its launch event, suggest that the Amarok can hold its own against other dual-cab rivals when the terrain gets challenging.

Is the Volkswagen Amarok Safe?

The 2023 Volkswagen Amarok NF holds a five-star ANCAP crash-test rating. This result is complemented by its Euro NCAP testing performance in 2023, where it received 86% for adult occupant protection, 93% for child occupant protection, 74% for vulnerable road user protection, and 83% for safety assist. The adult occupant protection score for the Amarok was slightly above what the Ford Ranger received at 84%.

The safety features of the Amarok are comprehensive. One significant addition is the Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) system with forward collision warning. This feature extends its monitoring to include pedestrian, cyclist, and back-over scenarios.

The list of safety features varies with each model grade, but the standard features include lane keeping, lane departure, swerve-steer assist, traffic sign recognition with speed control, multi-collision braking, adaptive cruise control (ACC), a speed limiter, and rear-cross traffic alert with manoeuvre braking. The Amarok Life model also includes a blind-spot monitor and front parking sensors.

Additional safety features are driver fatigue warning, adaptive load control, roll-over mitigation, automatic emergency call-out following airbag deployment, a 360-degree camera, park-assist with front/rear parking sensors, hill-start assist, hill-descent control, and tyre-pressure monitors.

Nine airbags come standard on all models, which include dual frontal, side chest, side head, driver and passenger knee, and front-centre airbags. The Amarok's bonnet design contributes to its vulnerable road user protection score.

All models are also equipped with anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution, brake assist, electronic stability control, and traction controls. For securing child seats, rear-seat outboard ISOFIX latches and strap anchor points are provided.

It should be noted that some features are not included in the Core model. Potential buyers should check the specifications of the model they are interested in to ensure it fulfills their safety requirements.

How much can the Volkswagen Amarok tow?

The braked towing capacity of the new Amarok is 3.5t (3500kg)

How much does the Volkswagen Amarok cost to service?

Volkswagen offers a warranty covering five years with no restriction on kilometres, accompanied by a 24-hour roadside assistance for the first year.

In terms of servicing, Volkswagen has made it clear that for the Amarok, the cost will be $1800 for five years or up to 75,000 kilometres under their prepaid Care Plans. For those planning to avail service from a Volkswagen dealership, it is recommended to consider this option.

Final thoughts - should you buy a Volkswagen Amarok?

There is no doubt that the Volkswagen Amarok sits somewhere at the top of the class. If it edges out over the Ford Ranger though is a question we will need to explore in our upcoming comparison.

Apart from the overly sporty drive and damper tune in our opinion, and the questionable interior build quality (which is usually ironed by year 2 of production), the Amarok certainly provides a premium Ute experience that feels a step up from the previous Amarok.

Whether or not the euro-tax over the Ford Ranger will be up to you, but you can let us know in the comments section below!

Saucey score breakdown

Maintenance Costs and Warranty
Fuel (or EV) Efficiency
Interior Design and Features
Value for Money
Technology and Innovation
Is it fit-for-purpose?
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Matt Brand
Matt Brand, the esteemed car critic from Car Sauce, offers unparalleled expertise on all things automotive. From new car releases to pre-owned options, he provides in-depth analysis and honest evaluations to guide readers through the car-buying process. Join us as he delves into the exciting world of motoring.
Car specs

184kW + 600Nm



5 Star ANCAP

Buy a Car!
No Obligations, Hassle Free.

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