Steering Column

Amarok on the horizon

Volkswagen has released the first official pictures of its next addition to the four-wheel-drive family.

The pick-up truck will be known as the Amarok and it looks very similar to the concept vehicle that toured the motor shows last year, toned down only slightly for the real world, so it’s going to be a style winner.

Production begins soon in Argentina where it will be first launched. It will arrive in Europe next summer but we won’t see it on UK forecourts till next September.

From launch it will be a double-cab truck with comfy seats in a cabin that will take up to five people. A single-cab with a conventional two seat layout will arrive in 2011.

There will be a range of options available from a basic, rugged model for people who need a tough vehicle to lug sheep up hills or chainsaws through forests, to a trendy beast for those who want to look tough too.

We’re told it will be “designed to tackle the toughest off-road terrain” and so will come with either two-wheel-drive, selectable four-wheel-drive or full time four-wheel-drive using VW’s proven 4MOTION system. It looks like the push-button selectable drive is the one for maximum off-road ability, kitted out as it is with a transfer box for low-range gearing.

The power will come from two two-litre turbodiesel engines turning out 121bhp and 161bhp. That will be fed through six-speed manual gearboxes.

VW also say they will be the cleanest 4WD pick-ups on the market, with an indicator light that comes on in the dash to advise drivers when to change gear for maximum fuel economy.

As for the looks, well they’re suitably tough and squared off, unlike so many pick-ups on the road today that are all curves and swoops. The front end has that serious-looking scowl you find on the latest Golf and even the Transporter van … and I like it.

No holes in Polo

More good news for Volkswagen – the new Polo hatchback has been named the 2010 Car of the Year by an international panel of motoring journalists.

One of the UK judges, Steve Cropley of Autocar magazine, described it as “very complete and very refined”.

The 59 judges every year choose the most outstanding new car to go on sale in the previous 12 months. This year they decided small and economical cars were the best of the crop. They all voted twice – once to select a short-list of seven cars and again to choose the winner.

This year it was an extraordinarily close competition. The Polo only beat the number two car by a handful of points. The Toyota iQ was only beaten into second place on the vote of the very last judge.

On down the shortlist, in descending order, were the new new Vauxhall Astra, the Skoda Yeti, the Mercedes-Benz E-class, the Peugeot 3008 and the Citroen C3 Picasso.

Winning the award is a recognised accolade that has an important effect on consumer confidence and, subsequently, sales.

Seeing stars

And finally, the new Vauxhall Astra and the Mazda3 have both been awarded the Euro NCAP five-star safety award following crash tests by Europe’s leading safety assessment body.

The series of controlled and monitored collisions are designed to gauge four key aspects of the car’s design: adult protection, child safety, pedestrian protection and safety assisting equipment.

Mike Grundon


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