The Volkswagen Amarok is unique in this company, which comprises conventional dual-range utes with part-time 4WD systems. The Amarok, on the other hand, has permanent four-wheel drive with a torque-sensing or Torsen differential, which sends the drive to the front or rear as it detects slip. It doesn’t have low range but does offer a locking a rear diff and hill-descent control. The Volkswagen is powered by a three-litre V6 turbo-diesel that puts out 165kW of power and a hefty 550Nm of torque, making it the gruntiest vehicle in our comparison. It also has a sophisticated eight-speed automatic gearbox. On the road the Amarok is a very comfortable cruiser with a suspension system well-matched front to rear. The interior of the VW is well thought out, comfortable and convenient. But even though it is comfortable, the Amarok came out on top in both our towing and load-hauling tests.The VW also didn’t disappoint our judges in the off-road section, handling all aspects of our tests well. Although it didn’t triumph in the off-road section it didn’t come last either, and we thought it would confidently go where most owners of four-wheel drive utes would want to go. The Amarok scored poorly in only one aspect of our testing, and that was its total cost of ownership. It was the most expensive of the group to buy and it wasn’t the cheapest to service, but overall it did score the highest on our test with 46 points out of a possible 56 – three points clear of the seond-placed Ford Ranger. There is, however, one area where the Volkswagen fell down badly, and that was in rear-seat safety.The Amarok was the only vehicle on test that didn’t offer side-curtain airbags in the rear, which should be noted by all prospective Amarok buyers, and family buyers in particular. .