Farmer leaning on Amarok Ute

Behind the Wheel withThe Country’ radio host Jamie Mackay

My relationshipwithVolkswagen dates back a decade to 2014, when we ran a wonderful joint promotion around a Springbok Test at the Cake Tin. From literally hundreds of entries, we picked four farmers from the North Island, and four from the South, chucked them in brand-spanking new Volkswagen Amarok's and told them to drive to Wellington.

We all arrived in time for the Test Match, and as an added-bonus we got to rub shoulderswith Richie McCaw at the after-match function! In my thirty years in radio, it would have to rate as third-best radio promo I’ve run. Giving away a $46,000 trip for two to the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England and Wales was a cracking promotion. But giving away a $60,000 Amarok, in that same year, really took at the cake!

Unfortunately, I’m not giving away anAmarok today. But I am giving away some insights into New Zealand’s best four-wheel drive ute for farmers, tradies, townies and everyday Kiwis who just want to explore the great outdoors.

I’ve been fortunate enough to drive all sorts of  Volkswagenvehicles over the past decade. I was particularly fond of the Touareg SUV, but I’ve really found my happy place in anAmarok. I call it myTouareg with a tray on the back.

The tray and canopy cover are perfect for the things I like to do – like playing golf and planting native trees at my Southland duckpond and wetland block. I can fit four sets of golf clubs and trundlers in there or, alternatively, my tree-planting spade, pruners, work gear and a hundred or more native seedlings. Plus, I’ve always enjoyed the power and handling of the V6, 3 litreAmarok. It is the King of the Jungle of Utes!

So, it waswith some intrigue and apprehension that I tookdelivery of the new Style model. It’s the 2-litre, twin turbowith 154 kW instead of the 3 litre PanAmericana model (first world problem, I know). But I needn’t have worried. The Style has all the power and get-up-and-go you’d ever need.Volkswagen has positioned this model in the sweet spot between the premium comfort that we all appreciate and a reliable and capableworkhorse that can be put to the task on any farm, building site or 4-wheel drive rally.

Its price point has also hit the sweet spotmaking it a competitive option on themarket for Ute buyers. When it comes to bang-for-bucks, it’s hard togo past the Style.

Like all the newgenerationAmarok’s, which hit themarket mid-last year to much fanfare, the Style has new technology to burn. My two favourite features are the digital cockpit (including the 12-inch “idiot-proof” infotainment touch screen) and the adaptive cruisecontrol, emergency braking and lane keep assist (great for keeping me on the straight and narrow).

Then there’s the 3.5 tonne towing capacity and anincreased wheelbase - for even better handling and stability. Not to mention selectable driving modes such as “trailer” or “slippery”, for adjusting the torque and suspension when the task requires. The other differences I’ve noted are, as you’d expect, the improved fuel economy and lighter handlingwith a better turning lock.

In summary, I give the new generation Amarok the big performance and technology tick. I stand 100% behind mine. Unless, of course, my wife is backing the beast of the garage!