The Country's Jamie Mackay tests the burly Volkswagen Amarok Sportline
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The team at The Country has enjoyed a seven-year partnership with Volkswagen New Zealand and, far from having the seven year itch, we're itching to keep it going. Especially when it means we can drive around the country in a brand spanking new Amarok V6 Sportline.
Having said that, it's really a royal "we" because it's me who gets to drive the best all-wheel drive, double cab ute on the market.
On occasions, I'm happy enough to share the keys with my executive producer Rowena Duncum, but I flat out refuse to let our wayward millennial apprentice Sam "Lashes" Casey behind the wheel. He struggles to handle a Lime scooter.
Besides, with all due respect to Lashes, I think he'd be well out of his league with this beast - a V6, 3-litre, turbo-charged diesel, 190 kw powerhouse, with a 3.5 tonne towing capacity. Amaroks are, after all, not for the timid or the faint-hearted.
Over the past seven years I've had the good fortune to drive a Touareg (my absolute fave SUV), a Tiguan (great round town vehicle) and even had a spin in a super-zippy VW Golf.
But hand on heart, my heart now belongs to the Amarok, because a double cab ute gives you the best of both worlds, regardless of whether you're a townie or a cocky, or somewhere in between like me.
After all if I'm going to run a radio show for farmers I might as well drive something that they would also love to drive.
Moving to an Amarok has almost made my trailer redundant. When I'm on the road I can fit my golf clubs and mountain bike in there, no problems. And when I'm pretending to be a farmer, there's heaps of space for my native tree seedlings, planting spade and fencing gear. And all that tray space does not come at the expense of cabin room.
Let's face it, for all intents and purposes, the Amarok is a like having an off road Touareg...but a slightly more rugged version.
Wellington | Alicetown
$1,282.62 p/w $5,130.48 p/m
What the Amarok brings is a level of sophistication to the everyday Ute. Something for those that enjoy the understated yet finer things out there, but still have the power to take on the pack when they want to.
The Sportline is now the stepping stone into the V6 category that comes with a whopping 580nm of torque as standard across the Volkswagen V6 Amarok range.
Finally, to add some balance, if I do have a criticism of the Amarok, it's that it goes too fast! It handles like its upmarket stable mate, the Touareg, on the open highway.
The computerised road-hugging permanent 4MOTION 4WD wheel drive system means you can go around corners with speed, sometimes without even realising it.
And when it comes to the straight bits of the road, unless you remember to click on cruise control, you're staring down the barrel of a speeding ticket. After all, these things were designed for the German autobahns!
On reflection, that's a bit of a First World problem. And I guess I'll just have to take one for The Country team and suffer through it.