Wolf whistle

ACCORDING to Wikipedia, amarok means wolf to an Eskimo, but applied to the tail of this new Volkswagen it felt more like a pussycat.

A surprisingly gentle feline, in fact, until provoked into action by a rutted incline so steep you’d need crampons to climb on foot.

Back on a firmer footing, the VW Amarok became almost car-like in its comfort, betraying its carry-all role in life only on the bigger bumps.

Most of the time this big double cab pick-up behaves more like a Golf than a go anywhere load lugger that doubles as weekend family transport.

Built in Argentina and on sale around the world, the Amarok really does move the game on in a part of the mobility market noted more for old fashioned virtues like toughness than for style and clever engineering.

Even so, Volkswagen has kept an old fashioned rear suspension set up and a ladder frame chassis, like its rivals, because they’ve proved the toughest solution to carrying loads just about anywhere.

But under the bonnet you’ll find a smaller diesel than favoured by rivals, with the unit in the test car using two turbochargers to keep power flowing at both low and higher revs.

The result is a vehicle that will give the opposition sleepless nights on running costs, while letting the Amarok feel lively when pushed into an on-road role. All-wheel drive, selectable from the driver’s seat, means the Amarok laughs off the rough stuff too.

But the biggest surprise of all is the way you don’t feel you’re slipping back two decades as you slide into the front seats. Tough and easily wipeable the insides of the Amarok’s rivals may be, but you’d never confuse them for a modern car.

Well, sitting behind the leather clad steering wheel of the test car and easing off the (leather covered) handbrake and selecting first from the (you’ve guessed) leather wrapped gearlever, you could be sitting in a Golf.

The double cab will take five adults in comfort, with the rear bench folding flat for extra carrying capacity when not needed for human transport. The load area out the back is big enough for a Euro pallet to fit sideways, should the need arise.

There are three trim levels on offer and two versions of the 2.0 litre diesel engine; the test car was a mid-range Trendline with the more powerful option under the bonnet. It returned 33mpg on my morning’s drive around Northamptonshire.

The Startline has rubber flooring, electric windows and Climatic semi-automatic air conditioning; the Trendline interior adds floor carpet, automatic air conditioning, leather-covered steering wheel and trip computer and multifunction display; while Highline models includes leather upholstery and heated front seats.

Prices range from £16,995 to £21,575 excluding VAT and it will be between an owner and his accountant to decide if that tax applies.