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New Ford Ranger V’s Volkswagen Amarok Review:

Our test cars: Volkswagen Amarok Trendline 2.0L Twin Turbo TD 
New Ford Ranger Wildtrak 3.2TD

Let me first say there’s no such thing as a bad pick up truck, I mean non. Only, that some are better than others, often in different area’s. 
We (4x4 Accessories & Tyres) have had double cab pick up trucks for over 10 years now, I’ve lost count but we’ve had well over twenty of them, not only do we sell accessories for them, we develop accessories, trial fit & test them. Some of the cars we’ve kept for up to 70- 80,000 miles and as long as six years. We have two trailers also and do occasional towing. 

We are asked every day by visiting customers to our showroom & fitting centre. "Which is best? What they are like? How’s the fuel consumption?" and so on.  
We’ve never been asked as much since the VW’s arrival in May 2011, every 5th person at least must ask, or did do initially anyway. Whilst others struggled to buy an Amarok we made two phone calls, quickly located a mid spec car and a week later the car arrived at Carlisle ready for collection.
On my first drive I pulled onto the M6, which is I guess less than 5 miles from the VW garage, my colleague who drove me to Carlisle quickly overtook me as we pulled onto the motorway as did a stream of other cars, this doesn’t normally happen, whilst I don’t go overly quick I normally keep up with traffic at circa 80mph on motorways with ease. I looked down at the Amarok’s speedo to see I was doing a mere 65mph, I dropped it into 4th and pressed the accelator deeper than is the norm. I find in most cars I can easily judge speed without looking at the speedo and can tell easily when an engines been over revved by engine noise alone. Whilst been careful not to be overly demanding on the Amarok’s new engine 65mph seemed somewhat slow for that amount of engine noise. I drove back below 70mph and thought a few miles would soon have her loosened up and ready for my daily 80mph motorway commute. Well it hasn’t. 
All that’s happened is I’ve adopted a new driving style, driving the car harder and been less sympathetic to it’s lack lustre performance. Now, I’m not saying the Amarok is a bad car, far from it, in the main its very good as you’d expect from a VW –Right ?? Although an inspection to the underside revealed little is made where you’d expect it, ie: Germany….. We saw stickers made in Mexico…..Made in Argentina but the "made in Germany" ones evaded us. 
The quote ‘sounds just like a VW’ when closing the door doesn’t apply here…. No, our Trani van doors sound better constructed and better engineered and close with a less tinny sound than the VW’s.
Our car returned it’s best ever fuel figure of 32.75mpg although this was when the motorway was restricted to 50mph though most days 55mph was achievable on average. Other niggles include a rattley drivers door when cornering hard which is worst on left hand corners at speed or over tracks/fields etc….. Once you’ve closed it three times you realise that’s the German engineering, still its VW’s first attempt since the Caddy of old. Door cards and the dash is cheap feeling and sounding and the clock binnacle surround is more akin to a van, in-fact their own T5 transporters is far better looking, they should have used that.
The car was tested and tested over and over by VW’s dedicated team for pulling cars to bits, still there’s room for improvement. I know of one other early car that leaks at the window seals when jet washed though another customer told me they had developed a new seal that could be fitted to resolve this.
Another niggle is the annoying traction control that cuts in when going over hill crest’s, its far far too sensitive. Your driving along nicely and all of a sudden the throttles taken off you, if you drive it really hard its not as bad but when I say hard I mean ‘license loosing’ hard so that’s not a option. The engine sounds rattley in the 2.0ltr and that’s with circa 5,000 miles on it, what will it sound like at 80,000 I wonder? Really a 2.5ltr would have been a better size for this car and would have allowed it to work less hard instead of having it’s neck wrung everytime it’s driven. I dread to think I was towing 2+ ton up a motorway incline, I could see nothing above 4th gear occurring and the 60mph limit been difficult to break even if you wanted to. 

It’s early days though and hopefully improvements are being made to sort the niggles, though we haven’t heard of a much needed bigger lump under the bonnet. Oh… and our mid spec Amarok didn’t even come with blue tooth !! So there’s no way that’s practical in this century….Even a tiny £8k city car has that as standard! The cloth Trendline seats don’t wear well at all, ours has snags in the cloth already in all seat positions, our 3 year old Navara (our last car that had cloth) didn’t even have one. 

On the upside, the Amarok handles great, it holds the road well and corners superbly. The front end is lovely, very very pretty, it has loads of kerb appeal and for the first few weeks turned heads wherever it went. 32 ish MPG isn’t so bad but I’d like to meet the man that can get 37 MPG in the real world. The residuals should be excellent come trade in time but that could be down to badge snobbery.  

Overall: 7/10

New Ranger: Bad point first (Niggles really)

Silly sat nav operation.
Stupid position of Trip/MPG reset.
Ridiculous plastic sports roll bar on top model (Wildtrack)
No drivers vanity mirror
Great 5 cylinder engine on the 3.2 model 
Lovely meaty sound.
Masses of kerb appeal.
Excellent value.
Loads of kit

The New Ranger has come on leaps and bounds, it’s totally unrecognisable against the outgoing Ranger, the new car is a world apart. Designed in Australia, built in South Africa (Thailand for other markets) the Ozzie’s certainly know there stuff. The car is well put together, the build appears very solid, there are no squeaks or rattles and the car feels very tight to drive. Our manual car goes very well, it’s probably also well suited to an auto box as there’s masses of torque on the 3.2 model. 
Fuel is returning circa 30MPG .
The interior build is excellent, it feels much better quality than the VW’s and spec on the Ford easily trumps the VW’s. It has a useful under seat storage compartment to the rear bench and leg room is improved over the outgoing model. Seats are very comfortable and supportive. After a recent 4hr drive I jumped straight out, no stretching or stiffness. The 3.2 lump pulls like a train, we’ve yet to tow with it but have a towbar ready and don’t doubt it’ll perform well due to huge torque. It’s also has a massive towing weight advantage over the VW. Really it’s a great all new pick-up, the Ozzie Ford designers & engineers have taken a new look at pick-ups and it shows. It’s wolf dressed as a wolf, great for leisure users and for serious work alike. The VW being a sheep dressed as a wolf.

As I said at the start, there’s no such thing as a bad pick-up anymore, but for us the choice is a no brainer….. The Amarok doesn’t clock-up many miles since the Ranger arrived, it sits looking very pretty in our car park and that just about says it all.  

Overall: 9/10

Ps: Why don’t all these car makers have TomTom design their sat nav’s for them, no-one else’s come close and I wish both would loose the ‘hill start feature’ (anti roll back) it’s for dummies that shouldn’t be on the road, it sticks requiring more gas to move off on hills and can’t do clutch wear any favours, there are far more useful things that could be fitted instead.

VW Amarok Accessories

New Ford Ranger Accessories

Since writing the article the Amarok has been in for its first service, MPG has improved greatly returning 33-34MPG and a new driver's door seal is due to be fitted under warranty to hopefully cure the rattling door. Production of European bound cars has also moved to Hannover so this should hopefully further improve the quality. First cars have started arriving already. We also heard a rumour that a bigger engine may be in the pipe line!

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4x4 Accessories and Tyres, Meridian Park Leeming Bar, North Yorkshire, DL7 9UJ UK