Road test: Amarok Aventura
We put the Volkswagen Amarok Aventura, the flagship of VW’s new ute range, through its paces at one of Tassie’s most spectacular surf spots, Cloudy Corner on Bruny Island.
Pushing hard through the bends on the windy and bumpy Bruny Island Main Road, I totally forget that I’m driving a dual-cab utility.
On the sealed and gravel sections heading south towards Cloudy Bay, the new VW Amarok Aventura feels like it has more sports-car DNA than any utility I’ve driven before.
We’re heading to the deep south chasing the surf and sun, and a night camping away from it all.
Eager to pull on the wetsuit, I nudge the accelerator a little and the big ute effortlessly takes off. My partner, reading an online review, reminds me that this power might just have something to do with the Aventura’s 2.3- litre TSI petrol engine being sourced from the Ford Mustang.
Dig a little deeper and you’ll find that there’s more Ford in the Amarok than just the engine. Based on the Ranger platform, and sharing many components, you may start asking yourself, ‘Hang on a minute, is this a VW or a Ford?’
But unless you knew (like us), you’d never guess. VW has distinctly styled and equipped the Amarok sufficiently to make it, well, an Amarok.
And the Amarok Aventura really is in a class of its own in Australia. In a sea of diesel utility offerings, the petrol Aventura package stands out for the appeal it will generate with those seeking a luxury sports utility.
Sitting on 21-inch alloys clad in road tyres, the Aventura is VW’s urban-focused top-of-the-range Amarok. Its sibling, the PanAmericana, is similarly luxurious but is set up for getting off-road, with 18-inch alloys, a different suspension set-up and all-steel underbody protection.
Both models will cost just either side of $80,000 on-road, with the Aventura sitting among Australia’s most premium-priced utilities.
The electric blue Aventura stands out when we arrive at the Cloudy Bay carpark. It’s super busy as it’s a spectacular day and the swell is up, but we still attract some admiring glances from surfers heading off to the break.
Retrieving our surf gear from the tray couldn’t be easier thanks to the Aventura’s electric tonneau cover, easily opened with a double click on the key fob. Knowing our camp gear will be safely locked provides some peace of mind while in the water.
After a couple of hours enjoying the left and right-handers among a moderate crowd (around 10!) at one of Tassie’s most spectacular surf spots, we return to the Aventura to dry off and head across the beach to the famed Cloudy Corner campsite.
The big ute’s chrome detailing shimmers in the sun as we arrive back at the carpark. I joke that it looks a bit of a show-off parked among the cluster of slightly agricultural dual cabs.
Edging the Aventura down the ramp onto Cloudy Bay beach, the track disappears under the massive square bonnet. We stop when horizontal again and shift into sand/snow and ‘4A’, or AWD, modes. Since the beach is as smooth as a highway (with a 40km/h speed limit), this mode is all we should need, but it’s good to know there’s low-range 4WD, setting it apart from the old Amarok.
Stopping halfway along the beach, staring out into the Southern Ocean framed by dramatic headlands, we’re overcome by an edge-of-the-world feeling, knowing that the next landfall from here is Antarctica.
With our gaze still half on the view, we strike up a discussion about the Aventura’s interior. The leather seats and their sporty stitching are a winner, as is the extension of this finish to the door trims and dashboard.
We love the portrait-mounted 12-inch touchscreen, mounted centrally in the dash, and its impressive functionality. The Harman Kardon sound system is next level and adds to the overall premium feeling.
We’re less convinced about the cup holders at the back of the centre console, some of the hard plastics in the dash trim and the lack of buttons or dials for the climate control system. Accessing the climate controls through a two-step process in the touchscreen isn’t intuitive and can be distracting.
The absence of a sports mode or paddle gear shifting we also found odd, considering the Aventura is pitched as a sporty road-oriented model. However, we’re hugely impressed with the suite of the latest safety and driving technology built into the Aventura. Intelligent cruise-control, lane keeping and pedestrian detection are features not dreamt of in utility vehicles just a few years ago. There’s airbag safety everywhere, front and rear cameras as well as a 360-degree view and fully automated parking assist. It’s an impressive package, especially when you consider the 5-star safety ANCAP rating the Amarok scored.
We get moving again along the beach, noting VW’s smooth stop-start system. Crossing a creek flowing over the beach, we use only around 200mm of the Amarok’s 800mm wading depth, but it’s still fun.
Arriving at the sheltered Cloudy Corner campsite, we pick a spot among a cluster of small eucalypts and get set up.
The Aventura, with its chrome and bright-blue duco, makes a fitting campsite accompaniment, catching our neighbour’s attention, who comes over to chat about it.
We laugh that if you were heading to a rural red-carpet event, this is the utility you’d want.
Who knows – given Australia’s love of big dual-cab utes, the Aventura might even be seen at glamorous city events too.
Book a test drive of the Volkswagen Amarok Aventura at Jackson Motor Company, Hobart.
Note: RACT Roadside Assistance does not cover vehicle service on beaches.
Body style: Dual-cab utility
Engine consumption: 9.9L/100km (average)
Engine type: 2.3-litre 4-cylinder turbo petrol
Transmission: 10-speed automatic
Drive type: 2WD, 4WD and AWD
Max. power: 222kw
Max. torque: 452Nm
0-100km/h: 8.5 seconds