After a fair while of intense speculation, Jeep have officially revealed their Wrangler-esque pick-up, a.k.a. the Gladiator – and it will be coming to Europe in 2020.

The jaw-dropping design features the instantly recognisable front end of the newly released JL Wrangler paired with a five-foot truck bed. This means the frame is 31” longer than the Wrangler and has over 19” more in the wheelbase. It also promises to be an incredibly capable off-road pick-up, featuring the Command-Trac and Rock-Trac off-road systems, rides on third-generation Dana 44 axles, has front and rear axle lockers and a limited-slip diff. Top-spec models will also have an electronic sway-bar disconnect.

Gladiators will come ready for a day’s graft, with skid plates and rear tow hooks as standard. The Rubicon spec will also have a heavy-duty steel rear bumper and will pose the option of a winch prepared counterpart at the front. The ground clearance comes is at 11”, and the approach, departure and breakover angles are 43.6°, 20.3° and 26° respectively. Standard wading depth is quoted at 30” and the Gladiator has a towing capacity of 3,470kg and 726kg payload.

The body-on-frame design rides on a five-link coil suspension system, with lightweight materials used to keep down weight and boost economy. Aluminium is used for the doors and their hinges, the bonnet, wheel arches, fold-down windscreen frame and the tailgate. In another attempt to keep kerb weight down, the Gladiator’s track and stabiliser bars are hollow, and the engine mounts and steering gear are, too, made of aluminium.

Taking lead from the new Wrangler, the Gladiator will feature a bed load of safety tech, with a grand total of 80 active and passive features – the headline gear being a front facing off-road camera. There’s also blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, electronic stability control and electronic roll mitigation.

Jeeps fourth-generation Uconnect infotainment system is available via three different screens, measuring either 5”, 7” or 8” – the latter two are also available with satellite navigation. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also up for grabs with the bigger screens.

Two engine choices will be offered with the Gladiator, with the 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 unit available at launch and a 3.0-litre EcoDiesel V6 coming shortly afterwards. The petrol version kicks out 285bhp and 260lbf.ft and will feature stop-start functionality as standard. The unit is ideal for truck life, as it’s designed to have a broad torque band that really comes into its own lower down. Once the diesel option hits the streets, punters will be able to have a more economical variant that combines 260lbf.ft and 442lbf.ft – also with stop-start abilities and paired with an eight-speed automatic gearbox as standard, unlike the petrol which has the six-speed stick as stock.

News on the pricing and more detailed UK specs will come closer to the launch, but with the new Wrangler being more expensive than many predicted the Gladiator might be a pricey option when it finally arrives.

American electric vehicle start-up Rivian have revealed a pick-up due to begin production in 2020, that if the figures are to be believed, will send shockwaves not only across the pick-up market, but the EV sector, too.

The R1T was revealed at the LA Auto Show, and the Michigan manufacturers claim the ‘Electric Adventure Vehicle’ will be a proper off-roader and work truck with a possible range north of the 400-mile mark.

Conceived with a double wishbone setup at the front and a multi-link layout at the rear, the R1T also has a low centre of gravity with the batteries and drive train all habituated below the height of the wheels. Yes, that read batteries – plural. Four of them, located each at a wheel and offering 2581lbf.ft of torque and 197bhp. PER WHEEL. That’s a total output of a useful 826lbf.ft and over 700bhp which equates to a three second 0-60 time, up to 100mph below seven seconds and a range of over 400 miles.

That isn’t strictly true, as there are plans for three different battery configurations, and not all of them have these insane figures. But they’re still very impressive in isolation. The smaller 105kWh pack offers less torque and power than the two bigger ones, and also has slower sprint scores. It’ll supply 413lbf.ft and 402bhp in total to the gearbox, with a range of 230-miles. The quickest 135 kWh configuration produces 754bhp, and the ground-shattering afore mentioned torque and sprint figures. This motor will have a range of over 300-miles, but if you want to get the top range 400-miler, you’ll need to opt for the 180kWh, 700bhp version. For those extra hundred miles, you’ll have to settle for wallowing to 60mph in 3.2 seconds. Oh so leisurely…

All batteries will provide an equal towing capacity of 5,000kg, aka five-tonnes, have a wading depth of a metre and will also top out at 125mph. Using an air suspension set up, there are four ride-height settings: park at 7.9-inches; Aero at 9.4-inches; Standard at 11 and off-road at 14.2-inches. This off-road setting produces an approach angle of 34°, departure of 30° and breakover of 26°.

Storage is also comprehensive in the R1T a load bed measuring 1.4 by 1.39-metres with the tailgate up, or 2.1 by 1.39-metres with it down. There is also a 330-litre frunk, 200 more litres in the rear bin, 350-litres in the gear tunnel below the cabin and 95-litres storage below the seats in 105 and 135kWh models. The 135kWh model has also been quoted an 800kg payload.

Rivian have already opened orders for the R1T, with the top two models available at launch and the base version coming a year later.

Mitsubishi have revealed the new L200, which will hit the market in Thailand on 17th November.

The new version of the pick-up that is celebrating its 40th anniversary has been updated and now incorporates the new generation Dynamic Shield front styling.

Tweaks to the interior are said to have made the truck more ‘modern and robust’ in feel, with frames surrounding the switch panel and air outlets, plus soft pad materials and stitching on the floor, armrests and handbrake.

New L200s will come with either adaptive Super-Select 4WD or Easy-Select 4WD which simplifies the manual switching between drive modes for varying road surfaces. Both feature an off-road mode with settings for gravel, mud or snow, sand and rocks – all in low-range, of course. Hill-descent control will be fitted, too.

Safety features on the new L200 consist of Forward Collision Mitigation, Blind Spot Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Ultrasonic Misacceleration Mitigation System.

Larger front discs and callipers have been added in the updates, and rear dampers have been enlarged and accommodate more damping oil, giving a more planted ride. The gearbox has also switched to a six-speed automatic, up on the current five-notcher.

Following it’s release in Thailand later this month, the updated L200 is set to be rolled out sequentially in the company’s markets around the world, and eventually being available in 150 countries world wide.

We’ll get more information on the European spec truck in the run up to its release on the continent at the end of summer in 2019.

The VW one-tonner is already one of the more luxurious offerings within the current pick-up market, but with the new Aventura special edition, it just got a bit fancier.

Powered by the most powerful 254bhp V6 in the range, the Aventura runs with the eight-speed DSG gearbox, permanent all-wheel drive and features an overboost function which temporarily ups power to 268bhp.

The interior features the Discover Media Navigation system, and the Aventura is fitted with other extra gadgets to make the driver’s life easier. The Lights and Vision package installs automatic headlights and separate daytime running lights that feature a coming home function along with automatic windscreen wipers.

Seating comes in the form of Volkswagen’s ErgoComfort seats. These come wrapped in Nappa leather and are 14-way adjustable. The same leather also adorns the steering wheel which boasts controls for the multimedia system and houses paddle shifts to manually control the transmission.

Paint options are either Ravenna Blue or Indium Grey – both of which can be specified in a matte finish. If you do choose to go matte, the Aventura comes with a 24% saving on the usual price for the procedure, at £2,335 pre VAT. The wheels are 20″ Talca alloys and the exterior is fitted with a body-coloured sports bar, chrome plated side bars, under-body cladding, power folding mirrors and a protective coating for the truck bed – to which you can add Mountain top roll covers for £1387.50 plus VAT.

The Aventura Amarok is on sale now, with pre tax prices starting at £39,960 at your nearest VW CV centre.

The Toyota Hilux is turning 50 and what better way to celebrate the occasion than with the unveiling of a new Hilux.

Okay, so this isn’t a new Hilux as such, instead it’s a special edition version designed specifically to celebrate 50 years of one of the most iconic vehicles ever made.

Christened as the Hilux Invincible 50, this joint venture between Toyota and Arctic Trucks builds upon a regular Invincible-spec double-cab Hilux and maximises the attitude you would expect from a rough-and-ready Hilux pick-up. And the result is one tasty truck.

Over the last 50 years, the Hilux has been put through some gruelling paces, having conquered both Poles, driven up the side of an erupting volcano, been submerged in the sea – funny, but all that links to the exploits of three guys on a TV programme called TOP GEAR.

Some epic moments then over the last 50 years, so naturally you would expect this new and exclusive special edition Hilux to be just as epic…

Well, just 50 people in the UK will be able to become the judge of that. Each Invincible 50 will have a numbered commemorative plaque and even the new 16 x 7.5 ET05 rims, complete with a satin black finish and machined lip, will let people know this is no ordinary Hilux.

While the Hilux may have been to every corner of the globe, on each corner of this limited-run vehicle, you’ll find 265/75R16 KO2 all-terrains from BFGoodrich and a performance suspension setup engineered by Arctic Trucks and Bilstein.

Those new boots and suspenders mean there’s more ground clearance to play with, in total the Invincible 50 sits 40mm higher at the front and the 20mm at the rear, improving articulation and those all-important approach and departure angles for when you find yourself in the rough.

The Invincible 50 mimics other offerings from Arctic Trucks with its inflated arches giving it the sort of presence only the Hulk can better. A sports bar – not the kind you get drunk in – sits on the rear overlooking the load bed, laying the perfect place in which to strap a set of powerful Vision X lights.

There’s other, less blindingly obvious tweaks here, too, like the Arctic Trucks mudflaps, a tailgate carrying the old-school Toyota decal and in front of it, a bed liner treated with Line-X for an extra durable workspace. Invincible 50 badging, crafted in chrome, has been machine-gunned about the vehicle and you can have your Invincible 50 in the choice of black.

It’s likely these special edition Invincible 50s will sell out quickly, and you can order yours now with deliveries taking place throughout December and into early 2019. There’s no word on the price just yet, but expect to pay a premium for the privilege of owning such a rare – and wonderful – truck.

It’s not often that a suspension lift catches your eye. They’re so commonplace in the world of off-roading that we’re no longer surprised. But then something like Sean Bloodworth’s Ford Ranger comes along and simply refuses to be overlooked.

 We all know the story of Doctor Frankenstein and his monster.Trying to create life, going where nobody has gone before and not knowing what will happen, the have-a-go creator succeeds in his experiment… but with dire consequences.

Happily, this story doesn’t have dire consequences. But it does have a cool truck, which is much better.The similarities to Victor and his monster are there, but there isn’t necessarily an antagonist or anti-hero involved. Despite its extreme finishing point – a pick-up lifted by 10” – the tale of Sean Bloodworth’s Ford Ranger started like any other rebuild.

‘I had no intention of modifying the Ranger when I bought it,’ says Sean. ‘I just wanted something more capable than my Navara, because I enjoy going off-road.’

And as you may be able to tell, there’s a story behind the Navara’s dismissal.

‘I took it to a pay and play centre, and a guy showed me around to start with, he actually said to me not to do the see-saw because it’s for modified vehicles.’ No prizes for guessing where this is going…

‘The first run I didn’t give it quite enough and I slid back down,’ continues Sean. ‘So, the second time I really gave it some, covering the wife in mud in the process, and smashed down the other side.’

Although he knew it had taken a hit, Sean drove home – and then even went out again – before returning to an oil slick on his drive which started the alarm bells.

‘It was then that I had a proper look and the front axle had gone through the sump. After that, I realised I needed something more capable if I was going to take it off-road.’ The guy who told him not to mess with the see-saw might take issue with the logic of this, as might the guy from Nissan, but Sean is the customer and you know what that means.

So, as is often the case in the current off-road market, Sean went for a Ranger. To be specific, a 2012 Ford Ranger, making it one of the early examples of the current model. Which, you may recall, he didn’t plan on modifying at all.

‘I saw a pick-up in 4×4, I think it was a Mitsubishi, and it had a decent lift on it. I remember thinking “why can’t I do that?” It was my first project that was a truck, but when I was younger I worked on Minis and modified them, turned them into racers. I’ve played about with Escorts and stuff, too.’

Even with his previous experience modifying vehicles, this was a starkly different challenge to anything Sean had encountered before. From reading the article on what may or may not have been an L200, the next year was spent researching what parts would be required and would work together.

‘Including the research, the process of getting the Ranger from standard to the full lift took about a year. Most of that was the research because the parts I used weren’t common, but the build itself, fitted around work, took about five days I’d say.

‘There was a degree of trial and error,’ adds Sean. ‘But now I’ve done it, I’d say that it would be three days’ work.’

Without jumping ahead too far, that raises a question that may well be best answered now.

Having got back into the mind-set that comes with the modification process, Sean got the taste for more. And, given that he’d built up a network of contacts during the research and acquisition of the specialist parts, has decided to start his own business doing so. Working as an aircraft fitter, paired with his newfound system, Sean knows what he’s doing and is ready to market this lift kit.

‘I’ve never had a business before so there’s not too much of a plan. I’m just thinking on my feet with it, really. I suppose it’s a bolt-on-lift- conversion-kit, service,’ he jokes.

As you’d expect, the process wasn’t simple and, understandably, Dr Frankenstein won’t be revealing exactly what he used to spark his monster into life. Commercial confidentiality, and all that.

With the axles dropped off and the shocks removed, Sean lifted the rear using blocks and shackles. The crossmember had to be removed, too, which was a daunting thing to have to do.

‘The point of no return was when I cut the bracket for the crossmember,’ Sean recalls. I was essentially cutting the chassis up. I fitted a new one – and a diff drop bracket – before fitting the new axle. It turned out to be the wrong way around, but I noticed and sorted it before moving on.’

From here, more trial and error ensued with the fitment of the front diff.Time was spent perfecting the angle, to ensure that the UJ and CV joints didn’t end up being overworked. After the angle of the diff was finalised, it was a case of bolting everything back on with the new shocks and springs.

‘It was a bit worrying when I put the wheels back on,’ admits Sean.‘When I put them on with the bigger tyres it made the vehicle too high to take off the axle stands using the trolley jack!’

After the suspension was complete, attention turned to the finer details of the lift, and bringing the monster truck to life.

‘After changing the suspension, the front and back brake hoses were lengthened, and I played around getting it to sit level,’ Sean explains.‘The shocks at the front are height adjustable, so that was fairly easy to complete.’

Another fairly easy change Sean made to the Ranger was also one of the most impressive to look at. Having got the final lift of 10” completed, new custom wheelarch extensions were added to compensate for the 35” BFGoodrich All-Terrains. Sean also added a Truckman Sports canopy and roll bar, and adjusted the lower drive ratios.

‘One of the hardest parts was adjusting the lower drive ratios so the speedo showed the speed correctly with the bigger wheels,’ Sean recalls.‘It did show 30 when you were doing 25, and it was a bit pessimistic when you were going faster – but it’s spot on now.’

With the Ranger lifted by 10” – five from the springs and shocks, two from the shackles and three of rubber for good measure – it was time for Sean to stretch the legs of his monster. The moment of truth. Had all of the work been worth it, or had the lift ruined the ride of a perfectly good Ranger?

‘The real revelation of the whole process was getting in it and driving it for the first time. You can actually throw it about and it corners really well. It’s well planted for something of its height. I’d say it handles better than when it was standard – there’s less roll and it’s smoother.’

Sean stopped and took stock once the job was done, and thought about what to do next.

This resulted in a trip to Ecotech Performance in Buckley, North Wales, where he had the beast chipped, upping the power of the 3.2 TDCi engine to 240bhp and 413lbf.ft. Now confident that the project was complete, Sean stopped to assess the situation once again. Having sourced the parts for the one-of-a-kind lift, making contacts in the process, he found his research had paid off as it resulted in a thoroughly kick-ass, road-going monster truck.

‘I’d taken the Ranger off-road a few times before the lift,’ says Sean.‘But afterwards, when I thought about selling it and making a business of it, I decided not to take it off-road again.’

Since completing the build, Sean’s Ranger caught the lustful eye of an onlooker and he has parted ways with his creation – thus making way for the next build.

‘I thoroughly enjoyed the whole process, including the research for all of the parts. It took about a year, but that was only because it was the first time I had done it and I had to find out what to do. Now It’s just a case of getting the parts and then fitting them to a truck, so when I’ve got the parts it should be three days’ worth of work.’

With this experience under his belt, Sean has been able to figure out what to charge people who want him to build him a Ranger like the one in these pictures.

‘I’ve got my price list, which will vary from £5800 to about £6500, depending on exactly what the customer wants. It doesn’t have to
be a 10” lift like this Ranger – there’s scope for whatever the customer wants, and the price list accommodates that.’

Unlike Frankenstein’s monster, Sean’s creation isn’t a psychotic beast. Rather the opposite,
in fact. His work on the truck has laid the foundations for a new business – one which means that you, too, could be driving around in a Ranger like (almost) no other.

Like what you see? To enquire about a lift for your own vehicle, pay a visit to Sean’s website – it’s at www.hi-rise-trucks.co.uk

We photographed Sean’s Ranger at Parkwood Off- Road Centre’s legendary off-road site in Tong, on the outskirts of Bradford. It’s one of the best in the entire country, and it’s open every month for playdays; you’ll find the company at www.parkwood4x4.co.uk

Further details of the Ranger Raptor have been revealed on Ford Performance’s Australia website, offering a deeper insight into the specs of the hotly anticipated super-truck than when the truck was revealed in August.

The engine will b a 2.0-litre twin-turbo diesel unit that gives 210bhp and 3868lbf.ft – we knew this before, but now Ford have released figures that are important to practical pick-up drivers.

At 758kg the payload comes in lighter than hoped, as does the braked towing capacity which falls short at 2,500kg. This may not be the end of the world for those who wouldn’t be using their Raptor as a workhorse, but it’s a big blow for those who would.

Dimensions of the truck bed have been revealed, too. With a length of 1743mm and a width of 1560mm, the size of the bed isn’t a worry. In the middle, between the wheelhouses, it is narrower – 1139mm – and the width of the tailgate opening is 1485mm.

In terms of economy, the Ranger Raptor is quoted a combined 34.4mpg and 212g/km for CO2 emissions.

With release set for next year, we are still waiting on pricing for the first Ford Raptor to be sold in Europe.

 

 

Isuzu has announced a range of updates to its high-selling D-Max pick-up. Effective from 1 October, the vehicle gains improvements to its suspension, cabin quality and safety tech, as well as a minor increase in payload and a set of new colour options.

The headline story for commercial users and off-road enthusiasts alike will be the move from five-piece to three-piece leaf packs for the rear springs on double-cab models. The result of this is an improvement in ride comfort and reduction in cabin noise, helping enhance the truck’s overall refinement.

This comes with no penalty in terms of overall strength and durability, as the new springs are made from a higher grade of steel. Indeed, the newer material has a higher hydrogen resistance, meaning it will resist corrosion for longer. Towing ability remains unchanged, meanwhile, and a 10kg reduction in kerb weight means a concomitant increase in payload.

On the subject of towing, the D-Max now gains Trailer Sway Control. This uses sensors to detect the onset of trailer swing and reduce speed if sway is identified. Speed is controlled by reducing engine torque and braking automatically. All of thishappens without any input from the driver, however the vehicle’s brake lights will still illuminate to warn following traffic even though the pedal hasn’t been touched.

Inside, the D-Max gains new soft-touch padding on its armrests, binnacle and cubby box lid. This aids the feeling of perceived quality, as does gloss black trim on the window switches, air vents and glove box. These features become part of the spec on all premium versions of the vehicle, as does a new D-Max badge on the glovebox cover.

Moving to the outside, you get the choice of three new paint colours – Spinel Red, Sapphire Blue and Galena Grey. The range-topping Blade model, meanwhile, becomes available in four colours, with the addition of Obsidian Grey and Spinel Red on top of its existing palette.

The D-Max starts at £16,799 CVOTR for the 4×2 Single Cab model, climbing to £29,799 CVOTR for the top of the range Blade with the optional automatic gearbox. The 1.9-litre Euro 6 diesel engine is retained from the previous model year, as are a 3500kg towing weight and 125,000 mile / 5-year warranty.

Today Ford have announced that the first ever Ranger Raptor will be coming to Europe – and will be on sale by mid-2019.

With the Ranger only becoming more popular in Europe, Ford have developed a truck that many spannermen have spent hours in the workshop building themselves.

Ford’s other Raptor – of the F-150 variety – doesn’t have much of a presence in Europe, but the popularity of the Ranger has lead the way for a Raptor with more European proportions.

Chief among the technical specification is the 210bhp, 2.0-litre bi-turbo diesel EcoBlue unit with 368lbf.ft to boot and comes paired to Ford’s 10-speed automatic transmission.

The baby Raptor’s chassis is strengthened by low-alloy steel and Fox shock absorbers feature position sensitive damping. These offer higher damping forces when off-road, but soften up for comfort and handling on smoother, more even surfaces. Aluminium control arms support these at the front, whilst the rear setup is a new and bespoke coil-over system that minimises lateral movement. Brakes are 332mm ventilated discs all-round, that’re 32mm wide at the front and 24mm at the back.

BFGoodrich All-Terrains  – in 285/70 R17 guise – adorn the 17-inch alloys and are custom made for the Ranger Raptor.

An F-150 Raptor-inspired grille adorns the front end, and flared composite wheel arches allow for further suspension travel and larger tyres. Underbody protection, rock-deflecting side-steps and a ruggedised front bumper prepare the Ranger for off-road mayhem – and make it look awesome.

The Raptor features all of the features and interior tech from the standard Ranger – but does have added driving modes: Normal; Sport; Grass/Gravel/Snow; Mud/Sand; Rock and Baja mode. Most interesting of those is the last – tailored for, you guessed it, dune bashing.

Next summer is quite far away, especially given that we’ve been dreaming of this for years. Try watching the video below – we find it helps.

There was a lot of hype surrounding the arrival of the new Amarok at the start of this year. VW’s double-cab had already gained a lot of admirers despite having the smallest engine on the market (a 2.0 TDI), but now here it was being reinvented with a 3.0 V6 TDI that was one of the biggest.

The engine was always going to be the biggest talking point with the revised Amarok. It’s available with three different power outputs… or at least it will be once the launch process is fully complete.

That’s because you can currently get it in 224 and 204bhp form, in each case with an eight-speed auto box as standard. Later this year, VW   says, the 204bhp unit will gain a manual gearbox as standard. 

At the same time, there’ll also be a 163bhp version of the engine; this too will be manual as standard. The range will also be expanded to include a Startline model specced with fleet and business customers in mind.

 

For now, however, we have a range of three. The Trendline is comfortably specced, while the Highline adds some bling and luxury. You might also still get one of the Aventura launch models, but the 224 Highline tested here is the range-topper going forward.

Our test vehicle had optional brown leather, but even without this the feeling of quality in its cabin is obvious from the word go. The dash is all hard plastic, but the standard of build is very good and the centre console is rock solid.

The seats don’t have lumbar adjustment, however. We found ourselves shuffling around in them after an hour behind the wheel when we first drove the Amarok last winter; this time, long journeys on the motorway proved that it’s a comfortable enough place to sit, but we still found ourselves reaching in vain for a lumbar lever after a while on board.

The Amarok is not alone in lacking this apparently obvious feature, but a more surprising black mark is the lack of decently proportioned stowage space up front. The cubby, glovebox and door pockets are all small and awkward to get into, so you’re likely to end up leaving things like your shades, keys and wallet in the bin and cup holders in the centre console.

Most seriously, however, we were disappointed by the lack of knee room in the back seats. We commented last time that you’d struggle to get four tall adults on board without at least one or two of them having something to grumble about; this time, we found that a five-year-old couldn’t get into his car seat without the driver (who stands at 6’1”) having to slide forward and hunch up.

The back of the rear bench does at least drop forward to create a flat platform. Whether this is really better in practice than just putting things on the seats is open to question, but it’s there.

Also there are hidden stowage bins under the front seats, which might help save you from having to take small items with you when you leave the vehicle parked up. But when it comes to practicality, obviously in a pick-up it’s all about the rear bed, and this has a tough plastic liner with four lashing rings proud of it, as well as a 12-volt socket in the side of the bed.

Thus provisioned, the Amarok is well equipped for a duty of work, and our test vehicle also had a rigid flat deck to keep things secure. The tailgate locks, too (using a key, rather than as part of the central locking circuit), and you can spec the vehicle without a rear bumper to let it drop fully down and sit vertically, allowing you to reverse right up to loading bays.

As is often the case with pick-ups, there are areas in which the Amarok frustrates us. Its dash looks outstanding, and it’s as well made as it is thought out – but if you have any sort of need for proper rear seat space, you’ll come up against a serious obstacle.

A car would need to be pretty heavy to have 224bhp and not feel at least reasonably fast. The Amarok is indeed pretty heavy, but it does still feel usefully brisk by pick-up standards – even if the gearbox takes a fair bit of winding up when left in auto mode.

It does change gear smartly when you start working the paddles behind the steering wheel, however. All the same, with so many ratios to deal with it’s a lot more relaxing to leave it in auto and just live with the rise and fall of the revs.

While the auto unit is genuinely sophisticated, we do find ourselves looking forward to the day when the Amarok gains a manual. Even though it will be limited to less powerful versions of the same engine, we have little doubt that they’ll be more enjoyable to drive and quicker from A to B in the hands of a typical pick-up driver.

Talking of A-to-B pace, the Amarok’s steering takes a lot of getting used to before you can handle it with confidence. It’s nice and light around town, but gains more weight than is necessary at speed – so much so that at first, you might find yourself thinking something is jamming it. We really did find it that unnatural. The extra weight seems to be trying to make up for a lack of feel, too.

Our previous experience with the Amarok was in a version with 19” alloys and 255/55 tyres, so we were hoping the 225/60R18s on this model would allow a gentler ride. Not that we found it harsh previously, but there were some jitters from the suspension which upset its poise at times.

Happily, there was no sign of that this time. The Amarok still feels heavy over speed bumps and so on, but while the impacts certainly come through they do so without upsetting its composure, and its suspension settles straight back down – even when running unladen.

We also noticed a complete lack of vibration through the vehicle’s drivetrain and pedal box. That’s a particular boost to its refinement, which is generally as high (by pick-up standards) as its cabin quality would have you expect.

All the same, the entry-level Amarok will come on 16” rims – and we can’t help thinking about how much fun it would be with a manual box and a set of 265/75R16s. That’s a reference to the tarmac, but it also rings every bit as true off-road – not least because manual models have low box, but autos do not.

For many (and we’d be among them), this would be an absolute deal-breaker on the Amarok tested here. While you can’t yet get one with the correct equipment for proper all-round use, however, models with the auto box do have an Off-Road button which brings hill descent control into play and modifies the behaviour of the ABS to suit loose ground.

This is certainly necessary with no low range, but to be fair on the Amarok it’s almost unbelievably agile, and tractable, in really tight conditions. The auto box works well enough when used manually, and at these speeds the steering is lovely and light, so the physical effort required to drive it is low, but we found it quite mentally tiring to be constantly working the paddles on terrain where we’d being leaving a manual in low first or second and letting it find its way.

Once again, then, we think the arrival of the manual box will be the making of this Amarok. It does great things with big alloys, low-profile road tyres and a gearbox we wouldn’t choose – so with proper tyres and a manual with low box behind it, we expect the vehicle to demonstrate just how good this engine is capable of making it.

Volkswagen’s options list includes a locking rear diff, too, as well as heavy-duty underbody protection. And of course the aftermarket is right across the sort of accessories it takes to bring out the best in a good truck. Wait a little longer, then, and the Amarok has the potential to become the best off-roader in the one-tonne market. For now, while it’s very good, that’s despite itself – this is a tale of massive potential waiting to be realised.

The Amarok tested here lists at £30,495 – that’s £37,627 on the road if you pay your VAT, and the options on this truck would kick the latter figure up to £39,805. We were critical of the vehicle’s high price when we drove the Aventura model at launch; to be fair, VW is not alone in flirting with the £40k barrier for its top trucks, but it still concerns us that at that sort of money, flaws like the lack of rear knee room become harder to forgive.

You do of course get plenty of kit for your money. And the Amarok has a level of build quality that instils great confidence in it as a product – though we’d expect it to have a warranty which at least matches the best on the market, and 36 months or 60,000 miles is trounced by the 60 months and 100,000 miles for which Nissan will look after you if you buy a Navara.

The good news is that once the Amarok range is complete, you’ll be able to buy one for a lot less than this. And, in our view, it will be the right one. Combine a manual box with a more modest spec level and, having worked the discount game, you should be in the best model for less than £30k. At which point, we think the pick-up market may well have its first five-star truck.

First featured in 4×4, December 2017 issue.