2022 Volkswagen Amarok W580X review



Sam Purcell

As the Amarok reaches the end of the line, we are being treated with one final Walkinshaw special edition. And it’s aimed more at off-road prowess.

  • Age has not wearied the driving experience
  • That V6 is as good as ever
  • Thoughtful and well-engineered bolt-ons

  • Still no advanced safety or second row airbags
  • Jiggly ride quality on imperfect bitumen
  • Feels expensive at the asking price

There’s no doubting that the 2022 Volkswagen Amarok is an old dog. But that hasn’t stopped it from learning a few tricks, thanks to Volkswagen‘s recent tie-up with Walkinshaw Automotive Group in Australia.

This is the 2022 Volkswagen Amarok W580X, which follows behind the more on-road focussed W580 and W580S models that the German manufacturer has pinned as GT variants of their up-specced and most powerful variant of ute.

Where things like 20-inch wheels, sticky tyres and flash sailplane sports bars were the order of the day for those models, this W580X gets a different treatment. With an aim of improving the off-road ability – but without hampering the on-ride credentials at the same time – Walkinshaw have concocted a combination of suspension tuning, rolling stock changes, and some bolt-on upgrades.

Some of the big ticket items in this case are hiding underneath. You’ll see the 4mm marine-grade aluminium sticking out up front, brandished with the nameplate and protecting the engine, steering, and cooling system. Above that is a small 75 watt light bar, controlled through a switch near the gear shifter inside.

There’s more protection underneath, as well. Stout bash plates for the rear differential and transfer case – right in the middle of the ramp-over angle – are also made from aluminium and sourced from German accessory supplier, Seikel.

Seikel is a name you’ll be hearing a bit about in this case. They are a aftermarket parts and accessories provider for Volkswagen vehicles, and carry a high level of endorsement from the manufacturer.

Also taken from the Seikel catalogue are raised powertrain breathers – for the front and rear differentials, transfer case and gearbox. It’s a small detail, but an important one for those who want to regularly be regularly fording through rivers and driving in muddy conditions.

These changes allow the components to ‘breathe’ through vents mounted high-up in the engine bay, and reduced the chance of water, mud and other crap getting into the oil as components cycle through hot and cold operating conditions.

Something not taken from Seikel – but rather designed and engineered by Walkinshaw – are the rock sliders. The steel tube is electric resistance welded, and the whole assembly is clamped onto the chassis rails. They look strong, although we didn’t get the opportunity to test them out.

Another major component here is the suspension. Dampers – a twin-tube MTV design – have what Walkinshaw an ‘off-road tune’ The rear leaf springs are untouched, while the front end of the suspension also gets a 40mm lift.

MTV stands for ‘Multi Tuned Valve’, and refers to a Monroe design used by a wide variety of car manufacturers.

Wheels are a unique 18-inch forged unit – a very strong and high quality one-piece manufacturing method – and the tyres are a Pirelli All-Terrain Plus in a 265/60 R18 flavour. This works out to be 30.5 inches in diameter, and the wheels are accomodated by extended wheel arches borrowed from the other W580 models.

Inside is probably the least exciting part of this W580X. Not because it’s bad, mind you. It’s more the fact that this Amarok has been around a long time, and nothing substantial has really changed in this case.

Front seats are heated, and the headrests get Walkinshaw embroidery. Standard fare ‘Art Velour’ seat trimming was upgraded in our case to 14-way electric ‘ErgoComfort’ seats, which are awesome. These are my favourite seats in any four-wheel-drive ute, with the Ranger Raptor’s pews coming in a close second place.

Otherwise, the interior of the Amarok is an oldie, but a goodie. Build quality feels top-notch, which shouldn’t be surprising considering how many years they have had to hone the craft. One can sense the extra little bit of width available here, in comparison to other utes. Comfort is in good supply, and visibility is also very nice.

In the second row, the seating position is noticeably upright through the backrest, and the seat squab is slightly narrow. One sits comfortably enough in here, but newer iterations of the four-wheel-drive ute (the Isuzu D-Max in particular) offers a superior experience in the cheap seats.

And I don’t know about you, but I reckon those cup holders down on the floor in the middle of the second row are a bit of a false start.

2022 Volkswagen Amarok W580X
Tray dimensions1555mm X 1222mm

Infotainment and Connectivity

Here is another big indicator for the Amarok’s overall age. Infotainment wars are moving forward at a giddying pace, and what Volkswagen currently offers up feels particularly small. You’ll notice with some other details – like the design of the native navigation maps – that these are some old bones.

Our testers were fitted with the slightly larger ‘Discover Media’ system, which measures in at 6.5-inches. It’s meagre by contemporary standards, but has good inclusions like wired Apple CarPlay, wired Android Auto and native navigation.

Considering the kind of digital acreage is available on the next-generation Ford Ranger, there is a chance that the upcoming Volkswagen Amarok will almost double what is currently on offer here in terms of size. We aren’t sure what will happen yet, but will know more after the global unveiling on Thursday July 7, 2022.

In front of the driver is an equally old-fashioned multi-function display, which runs through the usual gamut of information. Fuel consumption seems to reset after every drive, but the digital speed readout is a handy feature.

Yes, there’s a five-star ANCAP safety rating for the current Volkswagen Amarok. But it doesn’t hold much water these days, because that rating is as old as the car: twelve years.

Safety has come a long way in those years, and the current Amarok is one of the few models left on the Australian market without =autonomous emergency braking (AEB). But wait, there’s more. Or less, actually.

The Amarok is also missing adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assistance, blind spot monitoring and any low-speed accident mitigation.

And of course, it still lacks airbags for second row occupants.

2022 Volkswagen Amarok W580X
ANCAP ratingFive stars (tested 2011)
Safety reportLink to ANCAP report

With a starting price of $78,890 plus on-road costs, let’s look at the competition.

Nissan’s Navara Pro-4X Warrior has a starting price that is noticeably cheaper at $69,990 before on-road costs. It’s got things like a winch compatible bullbar and more heavily revised suspension, but cannot match the Amarok for under-bonnet brawn.

And neither can the Ford Ranger, at least until the next-generation model turns up. The next generation Raptor is sure to reset performance benchmarks for 4×4 utes.

Torque aside, there are two compelling options that compete against the W580X: The outgoing Ranger FX4 Max feels like strong value at $66,190 plus on-road costs, quite a saving over the W580X. Even the heavily re-engineered Ford Ranger Raptor, which might not tow or haul loads to the same degree, but has some serious chassis and suspension firepower, has a starting price of $79,390 plus on-road costs.

That hardest part will be finding a departing ranger as dealer stock dwindles ahead of the new model.

Considering the Amarok Highline can be had with 580Nm tune for $63,490 plus on-road costs, going to the W580X represents a $15,400 jump in asking price for the addition of protection, suspension, aesthetics, lighting, wheels, tyres and interior.

There is no doubt that many will like the set-and-forget nature of this W580X, along with straight inclusion of changes under Volkswagen’s five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty. And of course those who are keen enthusiasts of the Amarok nameplate will likely be lining up for the W580X already.

However, there is an argument to be had for sourcing your own gear, and potentially getting something of similar quality and performance. Australia is ground zero for aftermarket four-wheel drive accessories, and the Amarok has garnered a cult following of enthusiasts, products and businesses since going on sale in 2011.

At a glance2022 Volkswagen Amarok W580X
WarrantyFive years / unlimited km
Service intervals12 months or 20,000km
Servicing costs$2295 (3 years), $3875 (5 years)

While we weren’t able to get an accurate fuel consumption figure during this road test, previous experience in a V6-powered Amarok indicates that the claim of 9.5 litres per 100 kilometres (on the combined cycle) isn’t too far off the money. We’d expect to use around 10.5L/100km, but this will also depend on how much you’re enjoying that V6.

Servicing works out to be relatively expensive for the Amarok, costing $2295 for the first three years, and $3875 for five. Each of the first five services visits are set at: $559, $830, $906, $830 and $750.

Fuel UseageFuel Stats
Fuel cons. (claimed)9.5L/100km
Fuel cons. (on test)Not recorded
Fuel typeDiesel
Fuel tank size80L

Despite the passing of years, the Amarok is still one of the best utes to pilot through twisting and undulating country roads. It feels balanced, responsive and rewarding, something that most other utes cannot get anywhere near.

Considering this is a design that dates back to 2011, and many new competitors have since come forward during recent years, you need to take your hat off to the initial engineering and development that went into the base platform. It has stood the test of time, and really now sings with a smooth and torquey diesel V6 under the bonnet.

However, I do feel like this is a little bit of a missed opportunity for Volkswagen – and Walkinshaw – to really differentiate the Amarok with a more unique character. Let me explain.

Ford has done an impressive job of fundamentally changing the nature of the Ranger with it’s hardcore Raptor model. And in doing so, the Raptor has been able to evolve the four-wheel drive ute segment into something completely different.

While it’s not the same level of significant eningeering changes, the Ranger FX4 Max does something similar with Fox-branded suspension and off-road tyres.

Similarly, the Nissan Navara Warrior – co-developed by Premcar in Australia – feels like a Raptor-lite with it’s softer spring rates and supple damping.

This kind of tuning allows the utes to waft and gently bobble over rough surfaces, and gives more smooth and forgiving ride on dirt and bitumen alike.

The Walkinshaw-fettled Amarok is a little different. Damping has been increased in this case, which is aimed at better dealing with the bigger hits and bumps that come from off-road driving.

This is no doubt beneficial in some cases, especially if you’re planning on loading up and towing. However, it also gives the W580X a firmer and more jiggly ride quality on imperfect bitumen roads.

Walkinshaw engineers told us at the launch that they didn’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. By improving off-road capability, they wanted to maintain the high levels of on-road driving ability and demeanour that the Amarok.

And on that front, they have succeded. Firmer ride quality aside, the Amarok W580X still feels confident and well-balanced through corners. Steering is nicely weighted and communicative, and the Pirelli all-terrain tyres hold up their end of the bargain well.

And of course, one does not get tired of the 3.0-litre V6 under the bonnet. Our test cars were all fitted with the optional Seikel snorkel, whose backwards-facing, ram-style inlet makes some raucous noises under load. The V6 is evidently able to suck in large volumes of air, and the racket being made at the driver’s A-pillar will be either delightful, or disastrously droning.

Running through an eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox, the V6 is smooth and responsive, providing ample shove at any speeds. And while our test driving didn’t provide a great opportunity for an accurate fuel economy figure, we can’t see why the W580X would be markedly different from other 580Nm Amarok versions.

Dirt road driving saw the suspension and chassis of the Amarok W580X at its best, soaking up imperfections and potholes with more composure than the blacktop. For a confident and comfortable dirt-road tourer, one would need to do well to better this Amarok.

In terms of off-road capability and competence, our test drive was too tame to fully experience what the Amarok W580X should offer. On the face of it, however, we can safely assume that it will be quite good.

Without the goodies that come with the ‘X’ treatment, we already know the Amarok is a good off-road operator. I’ve got my own reservations about a four-wheel-drive without a low-range transfer case, but there is no denying that the Amarok can do some impressive things off-road.

Instead of using deep gearing, it leans on the torque converter and smart traction control tuning to limit wheel slip and get torque to the wheels with grip.

When you combine better all-terrain tyres and solid protection where it’s needed – always a good idea for those venturing to go off-road – the Amarok W580X will up the ante. Sill protection is a big deal especially, and while we didn’t get to test out the rock sliders on any shelves or ruts, they look to be well designed and stoutly mounted onto the chassis.

Key details2022 Volkswagen Amarok W580X
Engine3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel
Power190kW @ 3250 – 4500rpm
Torque580Nm @ 1400 – 3000rpm
Drive typeAll-wheel wheel drive
TransmissionEight-speed torque converter automatic
Power to weight ratio83kW/t
Weight (kerb)2285kg
Tow rating3500kg braked, 750kg unbraked
Turning circle12.45m

Safety and technology aside, the Volkswagen Amarok has stood the test of time impressively well. That potent diesel V6 has lost none of it’s appeal since first arriving back in 2017, and it still drives up with the best of them across the board.

And while the W580X does include some smart and thoughtful additions for those wanting to go off-road, it comes a fairly hefty price. The more pragmatic amongst us would likely consider an Amarok TDI580 Highline (or even a 550Nm Core model), and go down their own journey of accessories and modifications through the aftermarket.

But with that said, this Amarok W580X will hit the nail on the head for many Australian buyers. And don’t forget, that the door is quickly closing on this generation Amarok.

You will need to overlook the dearth of safety equipment and modern technology, but you’ll gain one of the the sweetest powertrains to ever go into a four-wheel drive ute.

Ratings Breakdown

7.3/ 10

Interior Comfort & Packaging

Infotainment & Connectivity

Sam Purcell

Sam Purcell has been writing about cars, four-wheel driving and camping since 2013, and obsessed with anything that goes brum-brum longer than he can remember. Sam joined the team at CarAdvice/Drive as the off-road Editor in 2018, after cutting his teeth at Unsealed 4X4 and Pat Callinan’s 4X4 Adventures.

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