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October 27, 2011
VW Amarok Ultimate twin-cab ute
Engine: Inline four-cylinder, 2.0 litre bi-turbo diesel
engine, 120kW, 400Nm of torque
Test vehicle RRP: $58,980
Reviewer: SGT Andrew Hetherington
BIG utes. There's
plenty of vari-
ations of them
around and VW
has now entered
market with the
Climbing into the driver's seat for the first time
feels like you are sitting in the front of a Bushmaster or
a monster truck -- it's really that big.
Perched high on leather pews, occupants look down
on most other drivers, including those driving other
utes.Once you get used to the seemingly gigantic dimen-
sions you begin to think of what you can achieve with
this long, wide, quad-wheel, load-carrying device,
capable of travelling on a multitude of road surfaces,
to different environments with ease, even though it
It's a capable and comfortable around-town vehicle
and highway cruiser despite its dimensions.
It has a handy 2800kg towing capacity assisted by
a phenomenal 400Nm of torque available from 1800-
2500rpm, and has a 2.5sqm tray size to carry your
groceries, lawn mower, bar fridge and camping gear all
As you'd expect from VW, the Amarok has all the
standard safety features, including off-road anti-lock
With the Ultimate model, as the name suggests,
people who can afford the price tag get alloy wheels
(the test vehicle had huge 19-inch versions), leather
seats as an option, stainless steel sports bars in the back
tray area and stainless steel side steps.
There's a lot to like about the twin-cab Amarok
including its car-like ride, luxuries such as power win-
dows and rear-window privacy glass.
Its medium-to-large carrying and towing capacity,
powerful diesel engine, multi-function centre console
display, comprehensive trip computer, three handy
12-volt power adapter sockets and child seat restraint
points on the back of the second row of seats make it a
serious alternative ute to what Toyota, Ford and Holden
have on offer.
However, there were a couple of things which left
my head shaking, including a lack of steering wheel-
mounted stereo and cruise control buttons, and the
concept of leather seats in a ute.
Also, being only available in Australia in a six-
speed manual would deter some from opening their
If you can afford the near $60,000 price tag for a ute
which makes you feel two feet taller than anyone else
around you, the Amarok might just be suitable for you.
It is a well-designed and reliable piece of German
engineering, even though it's built in Argentina.
KIA Optima Platinum four-door sedan
Engine: 2.4l inline four-cylinder engine, produc-
ing 148kW power and 250Nm of torque
Test vehicle RRP: $36,990 before on roads
Reviewer: SGT Andrew Hetherington
THE Optima Platinum was the third KIA
I've driven in the past two months and is a
modern-looking, internally spacious sedan,
which easily accommodates four adults in
From behind the wheel, piloting the
Optima was easy and comfortable. In the front
there was enough technology contained in the
dash to keep any technophile happy.
Features include a dual-zone climate con-
trol with a rear cabin vent, seven-speaker MP3
and iPod-compatible six-disc CD changer
stereo, Bluetooth connectivity, steering-wheel
transmission paddle shifters, steering-wheel-
mounted cruise control and stereo buttons, an
electrically powered panoramic sunroof and a
smart key, which lets you start the car by push-
ing a button.
Safety's also a standout feature in the
Optima. There are several airbags, anti-lock
brakes, electronic stability control, daytime
running lights, high intensity discharge xenon
headlights, a colour screen located in the inter-
nal rear view mirror, which gives a video pic-
ture for drivers while reversing, and cornering
lights mounted below headlights which turn in
the direction of the steering wheel.
The 2.4l engine works well within its limits
but, when pushed, becomes raspy and raucous,
still, it doesn't take long to find its comfort
zone. This doesn't mean the Optima is a bad
car, it could just do with a more refined and
powerful engine to make the whole driving
experience more composed. One of KIA's die-
sel engines might be suitable.
Overall, the Optima offers great value for
money, is packed with heaps of gadgets and
is a comfortable drive and ride for a family of
Safety a standout feature
GOOD EFFORT: (Above) The KIA Optima
Platinum sedan and, below, the VW Amarok
Ultimate twin cab ute.
Photos: SGT Andrew Hetherington
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