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 Range Raptor, Toyota Hilux Rugged X, HSV Colorado SportsCat+ and upcoming Mercedes-Benz X-class X350d.
The Amarok Ultimate 580, as its moniker suggests, is powered by a turbo-diesel V6 engine that produces 190kW of power and a heady 580Nm of torque, with Volkswagen pitching this uber-quick workhorse 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 – available in Ultimate only at this stage – puts it even further ahead its competitors in the outright grunt stakes.
The TDI550 continues as the standard powerplant in all other Amarok V6 models, including the soon-to-arrive base-spec Core V6 (available end of October, with an expected sub-$50k price).
At $71,990, the Volkswagen Amarok Ultimate 580 sits at the top end of the dual-cab market pricing-wise, with only Ford Ranger Raptor ($74,490), and 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 very high level of standard equipment, reflected in the fact the only option is metallic paint, at $610.
On top of that monster V6 engine (unique in this segment until the X350d arrives), other Ultimate 580-only kit includes 20-inch alloy wheels, Nappa leather 14-way electric adjust seats in black, a black roof lining and a different styling treatment for the front end.
Even with the boost in outputs, the Ultimate 580 actually requires less diesel than the previous TDI550; VW claims a combined average fuel consumption figure of 8.9L/100km (down from 9L/100kkm). This is higher than the rest of its class, (Ranger Raptor uses 8.2L/100km; Colorado SportsCat+ 8.7L/100km) but the performance trade-off balances that out.
A slight disappointment is the vehicle’s three-year warranty; Ford’s recently updated Ranger now offers a five-year warranty, as do some others (Isuzu, for example) in this market segment.
The Ultimate 580 is fully featured; metallic paint (including the model-specific Peacock Green) the only option for this model. Headlights are Bi-xenon, accompanied by LED Daylight Run Lights (DRL) and the fog lights include a cornering function to aid night-time illumination.
The easy-to-use DiscoverMedia infotainment system features GPS, two SD card slots, App-Connect (via USB) for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and pumps the tunes via six speakers. The 6.33-inch colour screen, though, is small compared to others in this class.
The Amarok is one of the few dual-cab utes that run four disc brakes (the majority in this class still use drums at the rear), and is currently the only ute (aside from Mitsubishi’s Super-Select equipped Triton) that offers constant four-wheel drive on-road – a real boon.
Front and rear parking sensors are standard, as is a rear-view camera, along with a tyre pressure monitor system.
The Ultimate 580 measures 5254mm long, 2228mm wide (with side mirrors extended) and 1878mm in height. So yeah, it’s big; the largest in this class, in fact, with Ford Ranger only slightly longer (5398mm) but narrower and not as tall.
The rear cargo tray is massive, measuring 1620mm wide (best in class), 1555mm in length and 508mm deep, but with a welcome low loading height for easy accessibility when wrestling gear into it, which is secured via four floor-mounted tie-down points.
The Ultimate 580’s impressive girth accounts for its spacious interior, with the rear seats fitting three burly blokes quite comfortably (again, best in class here), although leg-room is a bit tighter, losing out to class-leader Ford Ranger’s longer cabin.
The Ultimate 580 has a five-star ANCAP safety rating. The driver and front passenger get front and side airbags but, ridiculously, rear passengers get none – a major oversight, and in stark contrast to the majority of its competitors.
For family buyers, this could be a deal-breaker. The Ultimate TDI580 also does without Auto Emergency Braking (AEB) which is, again, a standard feature on some, but not all, competitors. This leaves the Ultimate 580 (and all Amaroks) sitting mid-field in terms of safety.
The driver and front passenger seats offer ample comfort, thanks largely to the 14-way adjustable – and very supportive seats. As mentioned, rear passengers have plenty of room in terms of width, and the seats are well bolstered for plenty of support.
Leg-room, although not class-leading, is still ample for most adults (up to 180cm). The rear seating, as with all dual-cab utes, is more upright than a sedan or wagon, but not uncomfortably so. The dual-zone aircon keeps temps under control, while road- and engine-noise is impressively muted.
Cabin finish, for a top-tier model, is good; only let down slightly by the use of hard plastics in some areas. With its load-carrying DNA and those low-profile tyres on 20-inch wheels, the Amarok rides quite firmly, but is still a step up from most in its class, with the exception of Ford’s Ranger and Benz’s X250d.
ON THE ROAD
Trundling around urban areas, the Ultimate belies its size with impressive manoeuvrability, in part thanks to its light steering. Get out on the open roads and, for a dual-cab ute, it goes - and goes very well.
The fact you’re driving a 2244kg, high-riding vehicle, with its inherent body-roll is never forgotten, but when you’re punting along a winding road, VW’s 4MOTION constant four-wheel drive system’s ability to apply all that grunt to the road, the four-wheel disc brakes’ to reign it all in, and the well-calibrated eight-speed auto, do a decent job of muting those negatives.
The V6 engine’s trick feature is ‘overboost’ that - put simply - offers around a 10-second lift in power output when the accelerator pedal goes past 70 percent of its extension, pushing power output to 200kW for that period.
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 (and class leading). The result is an on-road experience that is, in short, plenty of fun.
The Volkswagen Amarok Ultimate 580 meets the premium performance ute criteria easily, barring that big miss of no rear passenger airbags. The impressive on-road performance is matched by its off-road capability, along with a 3500kg tow rating, meaning it meets all the needs of today’s dual-cab ute buyer, who is after that ‘do everything’ vehicle.
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