Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Motoring Comfort and security in VW’s solid Rok Factfile

Long before our present age of sophisticated car manufacture, it was acceptable to convert a commercial van to domestic use by putting windows and seats in it

Long before our present age of sophisticated car manufacture, it was acceptable to convert a commercial van to domestic use by putting windows and seats in it.

Carmakers, in their constant quest to produce something new or different have put this crude conversion technique with its humble beginnings to good use.

Now you get small vans reborn as compact MPVs (multi-purpose vehicles) and more often as has been the American way for years pick-up trucks reconstituted as SUVs (sports utility vehicles).

There is no denying that these “born-again” vehicles can provide inexpensive access to a type of car that would otherwise be out of the reach of the pocket of many motorists. Indeed, some of the best mobility vehicles for the disabled are clever and useful conversions.

Yet somehow some of these vehicles, even for the least sensitive of drivers, remain at heart what they basically always were workaday vans or trucks that have been adapted for private use.

However, this week’s drive, the giant Volkswagen Amarok, could not be accused of being a mere convert to domestic life. In fact, the Amarok is aimed first and foremost I suspect at the commercial end of the market.

The difference when driving the Amarok is that it feels complete: there is no hint of adaptation or conversion because the vehicle has been purpose-built from the ground up to offer both gritty performance as a working vehicle while providing car comfort for the occupants.

The Amarok does not go into the realms of being a luxuriously appointed executive “toy” like some large 4x4s and this we have to be thankful for. Yet for all that it is certainly striking how comfortable a ride the Amarok provides. I have driven the Amarok off-road too, at its launch, and its “go-anywhere” attitude was impressive.

I had the feeling as we cranked down the steepest incline with minimal effort from the powerful two-litre engine that in off-road mode (and mood) this is a vehicle that could climb walls if you let it.

So how did I get on using the Amarok for everyday use: from shopping at the local supermarket to tight-spot parking in town to actually half-filling up its ample load area with domestic rubbish for the tip?

Well, despite my fascination with small hybrids I am still a great fan of large 4x4s, and they do not come much bigger than the Amarok.

So, I enjoyed my time with it and in the passive aggressive attitude on our roads today I felt an overwhelming and comforting sense of security in the “Rok”.

Aptly named, I found myself actually looking down on large 4x4s. And while I do not advocate aggression on the road, I am certainly one of those drivers who on occasion gets a bit too involved at the sight of other drivers’ stupidity. But then don’t we all?

Yet in the Amarok I found that I literally was above all that perceived aggravation and so not only felt comfortable at the wheel but also comfortable in my designated road space.

Parking has to be carefully considered sometimes due to the sheer size of this vehicle but this can be achieved with a little forethought and luck.

But if you do buy an Amarok for your own private use and I would recommend it as one of the best SUVs around then be warned that in the eyes of most council-run tips you are viewed as a “commercial” vehicle.

I have visited our local rural tip in Gloucestershire many times in all kinds of cars but discovered that in a “pick-up” (or a van) I must make a prior appointment. I was not charged (and I know some councils do charge these kind of vehicles) but even as a domestic council taxpayer with a load of domestic rubbish I still had to be booked in. And produce a reference number and photographic ID.

The Amarok for a big vehicle is quite frugal in its fuel consumption: 35.3mpg on the combined cycle with CO2 emissions of 211g/km. It has automatic air con, cruise control, a radio/single CD player with six speakers, heated front seats, Vienna leather upholstery, electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors so if you like your “home” comforts in a car, they are there in abundance.

And if you feel the need to go off-road, take it from me it is an enjoyable experience and should not put you out of that all-important comfort zone.

*Vehicle tested: Volkswagen Amarok Highline 2.0-litre BiTDI 180 PS 4MOTION

*Basic recommended retail price (excl. VAT): £25,425.

On the road, incl. VAT: £31,487.

*Standard features include: ESP (Electronic Stabilisation Programme) incorporating ABS (Anti-lock Braking System), off-road ABS, Brake Assist System (BAS), Traction Control System (TCS), Electronic Differential Lock (EDL), Hill Hold Assist, Hill Descent Control and Trailer Stability Control

*Automatic hazard lights activation under emergency braking

By Nigel Wigmore

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