THE Volkswagen Amarok Ultimate 580 is the German brand’s entrant into the fast-growing premium 4x4 dual-cab ute market, up against the Ford Ranger Raptor, Toyota Hilux Rugged X, HSV Colorado SportsCat+ and upcoming Mercedes-Benz X-Class X350d.
The Ultimate 580 is powered by a turbo-diesel V6 that produces 190kW and a heady 580Nm, with VW pitching it as a ‘performance vehicle’. The Amarok was already the most powerful dual-cab ute on the market in its 165kW/550Nm (TDI550) form, and this new engine puts it even further ahead of competitors in the outright grunt stakes.
AT $71,990 the Ultimate 580 sits near the top end of the dual-cab market pricing wise, with only the Ranger Raptor ($74,490) and the upcoming Benz X-Class X350d (expected to be around $80K) for company.
It’s a fair chunk of cash but, as you’d expect, the Ultimate is loaded with a high level of standard equipment – the only option is metallic paint, at $610. On top of that monster V6 engine, other Ultimate 580only kit includes 20-inch alloy wheels, black Nappa leather 14-way electric-adjust seats, a black roof lining and a different styling treatment for the front end.
Even with the boost in outputs the Ultimate 580 requires less diesel than the previous TDI550; VW claims a combined average fuel burn of 8.9L/100km (down from 9L/100km). This is higher than the rest of its class (Raptor uses 8.2L/100km; SportsCat+ 8.7L/100km), but the performance trade-off balances that out.
VW has upped the warranty on new Amaroks to five years and unlimited kilometres, matching others in the segment.
THE ULTIMATE 580 is fully featured and, as mentioned, the metallic paint is the only option. The Bi Xenon headlights are accompanied by LED DRLs, as well as fog lights which include a cornering function to aid illumination at night.
The easy-to-use Discover Media infotainment system features GPS, two SD card slots, App Connect for Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and six speakers. The 6.33inch colour screen is small, though.
The Amarok is one of the few dual-cab utes to run four disc brakes, and is currently the only ute (aside from Mitsubishi’s SuperSelect equipped Triton) that offers constant 4WD on-road – a real boon. More of a boon, though, is the disc brake size being the same across the range, meaning those keen on putting that 580Nm to use off-road can swap the 20-inch hoops for more bushfriendly 17-inch or 18-inch wheels.
Front and rear parking sensors are standard, as is a rear-view camera and a tyre pressure monitoring system.
THE ULTIMATE 580 has a five-star ANCAP safety rating. The driver and front passenger get front and side airbags, but, ridiculously, VW persists with no airbags at all for rear passengers – in stark contrast to the majority of its competitors. For family buyers, this could be a deal breaker.
The Ultimate 580 also does without Auto Emergency Braking, which is standard on some, but not all, competitors. It is here, with the steady increase of automated safety tech, that Amarok is falling behind.
TRUNDLING around town the Ultimate belies its size with impressive manoeuvrability. Get out on the open roads and, for a dual-cab, it goes quickly. The fact you’re driving a 2244kg, high-riding vehicle with inherent body roll is never forgotten, but on a winding road the 4MOTION constant 4WD system’s ability to apply all that grunt to the road, the four-wheel disc brakes’ to rein it all in, and the wellcalibrated eight-speed auto do a decent job of muting those negatives.
With a 0-100km/h claimed time of 7.3 seconds the Ultimate 580 is the quickest in its class, and its roll-on/overtaking acceleration is equally as impressive.
THE AMAROK has always been very capable off-road, even without low-range. Its aggressive torque converter and low first gear, plus traction control and locking diff, ensure it can tackle most off-road tracks drivers will point the wheels towards.
THE AMAROK Ultimate 580 meets the premium performance ute criteria easily, barring that big miss of no rear airbags and lack of up-to-date safety tech. This is balanced out by the increased traction offered by a constant 4WD system, which is excellent, and you do get plenty of bang for your bucks.