Steering Column 12.06.09


Volkswagen has tightened up a bit on the detail of an all new pick-up truck it’s planning to start building next year. It’ll be available as a four-wheel-drive double-cab pickup with five seats, or as a single cab later on.

VW says it’ll have a powerful but efficient common rail turbo diesel engine which “will achieve class leading fuel consumption and emissions” which will be nice, though the class isn’t famous for being particularly good in this field to begin with so the bar isn’t particularly high.

The big news so far as the company is concerned is the name it’s settled on. It’ll be called the Amarok which, we are informed, means “wolf” in the language of the Inuit people of Northern Canada and Greenland. Apparently it also means “he loves stones” in South America, though that may be an accidental piece of collateral marketing coincidence.

Production will be based at Pacheco near Buenos Aires in Argentina so perhaps predictably, it’ll be launched first in South America early next year. It’ll spread up into Central America by spring and cross the Atlantic and Pacific into Russia, Europe and Africa on one side and Australia on the other. UK launch dates will be announced next year.

Change Rover

Prices have been announced for the new “2010 model year” Range Rover, which will actually be available from the middle of next month. The numbers have gone up to cover the cost of the extra techy kit they’re now dripping with more than ever.

There’ll be three specification levels starting with the one badged “Vogue”, rising through the “Vogue SE” to the confusingly monikered Autobiography (what?).

Equipped with a 3.6-litre TDV8 diesel engine and with a price tag swinging to the tune of £64,695 you couldn’t ever call the Vogue the “cheap” version and as such it’s got plenty of equipment as standard.

The SE has bigger alloy wheels but also extra kit including clever lights that shine round corners, a faggot of timber built into the interior and a few cows’ worth of leather on the seats and trim. It’ll cost £70,995.

The Autobiography (nope, it still looks wrong) gets “sparkle finish alloy wheels” as part of a jazzed up exterior, an entire herd’s worth of hide lining the doors and roof and, er, other stuff.

Topping off the tree is the Autobiography (God help us) with the massive five-litre supercharged V8 petrol engine which is yours for a fiver under £80,000.

A cool 1.5 grand

Who’d have thought it? As the summer sun comes out and turns our car interiors into mini ovens, Toyota has used a bit of lateral thinking and decided to use the heat of the sun to cool its Prius. Yep, cool it.

A Solar Pack option that costs £1,450 uses solar panels built into the sliding sunroof to power an electric air circulation fan that whirs away independently while your car is parked idly by the side of the road.

Toyota says it’ll drop the temperature from 80 to 45 degrees C, but I suspect it means Fahrenheit.

It also has a key-fob operated remote air conditioning control that you can blip three minutes before getting into the car so the interior is lightly frosted before you have to get in.

Mike Grundon


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