Well, you have asked for it and we thought it was about time we delivered. We receive countless emails and messages on social media, asking for a more detailed look at the Volkswagen Amarok our publisher has been driving for close to a year now. When Pat made the move from driving Nissan Patrols to the new-kid-on-the-block dual cab some people were left scratching their heads.
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“After driving a GU Patrol all over the country for close to seven years, I just wanted to try something different,” says Pat. “The first trip in the new utes was across the Simpson Desert towing camper trailers. I wanted to see very early on in the piece how tough the VWs were, and man am I impressed.” So impressed, that the vehicles which were originally going to remain rather stock, have been extremely well-kitted out.
I was lucky enough to find the keys to Pat’s daily drive poorly hidden on his desk (you’re going to have to try harder mate) and spent a few days on the NSW coast all in the name of testing. It must be said, while he might have trouble keeping staff away from his vehicles, Pat sure knows how to set a four-wheel drive up for extended travel. Let’s take a closer look at this very special Volkswagen.
“I actually have two Amaroks,” Pat mentions. “One is an auto which I have kept relatively stock, and my crew drive it while we are out filming my TV show Pat Callinan’s 4X4 Adventures. My main vehicle is a manual Amarok with low-range gearing, that has been considerably more modified. I just can’t help myself,” he says with a grin.
The vehicles are 2014 models, and have been in service for close to a year. Now, a year of ownership isn’t terribly long if you’re an average four wheel drive owner. However a year of ownership around this office includes more off-roading than some people would do in their lifetime. “Between myself, Unsealed 4X4 journalists and my film crew, these trucks are heading bush at least once a week,” Pat explains.
“We’re at the stage that we need to think about employing a car detailer full-time– the Amaroks see more dirt and mud than a Surry Hills beauty therapist.”
As is a sign of the times, Volkswagen have included a relatively small 2.0L diesel engine, however the bi-turbo setup takes care of the old adage about needing cubic capacity to make decent power. If you haven’t driven an Amarok, it must be said that these things hoot along.
There are also the standard off-road-friendly inclusions, such as a factory-fitted rear diff lock and ABS tuned specifically for off-road conditions. As mentioned, the crew vehicle is fitted with an automatic gearbox, but technically doesn’t have low-range 4WD. What it does have though, is a very clever 8-speed gearbox, which essentially provides a gear for all situations.
Drive one of these vehicles on-road, and the first thing you will notice is how car-like they are. Read any review of the Amarok, and the one thing every off-road journalist in Australia will agree on is how comfortable they are. “In modifying this vehicle it was imperative to retain the good-natured handling,” says Pat.
We spend loads of time driving on-road as well AS OFF-ROAD, and considering how often I tow, comfort was a major deciding factor in giving the nod to THE Amarok.”
For the most part, the vehicle modifications have been handled by the extremely capable hands at ARB Moorebank in Sydney. This includes fitting the 30mm raised Old Man Emu suspension, which Pat is convinced rides better than any leaf sprung setup he has ever driven. They also installed and colour-coded the ARB bull bar, brush bars and side steps. The team at ARB hadn’t worked on many Amaroks, so this vehicle was in many ways a test mule for them. Not that you would be able to tell.
The same team also installed the Redarc gauges, a rear drawer system, mounted an ARB air compressor for tyre inflation duties and cut into the brand new guards to install the Safari Snorkel. An ARB canopy keeps the tray covered, and also provided the perfect platform to mount a Tradesman roof rack and side awning.
The interior has been left largely stock; however our local auto-electrician S&K Autos handled any extra 12V wiring. This includes installing a few extra 12V sockets and USB charging points. Speaking of 12V gadgetry, Pat has wisely installed a Redarc Tow Pro Elite electronic trailer brake system. This truck tows… a lot!
Originally, the Amarok was running the stock alloy wheels with a set of General Grabber All-Terrains, but with the Sydney 4WD Show fast approaching (and now come and gone) we stayed back late one night, and bolted up a larger set of General Grabber SRLs stretched onto CSA Raptor wheels.
Which really gave a huge boost to the looks department. While we were already putting in a bit of O.T. Pat asked this ‘ere journo to fabricate a stainless steel table to protect the rear tailgate. “We also use this as a table for lunch breaks, and the camera guys can lay their gear out on it at the end of a day shooting to edit on the road,” Pat mentions.
Well, if you haven’t heard of Pat Callinan, you have either been living under a rock, don’t own a TV or can’t read. Pat has been producing his own televison show on Network 10 for over eight years now, and has covered pretty much every square inch of this wide brown land. Season eight of the show has just begun airing on TV, so to see how the Amaroks are performing in the field, be sure to check it out.
The first trip out was through the Simpson Desert and Birdsville to see Jimmy Barnes perform at the Big Red Bash – quite the baptism of fire. Since then, the Amarok has been through some of Pat’s favourite parts of the country, including the Blue Mountains, Fraser Island the NSW North Coast, just to mention a few destinations. And nothing has gone wrong, bar a set of mudflaps that decided they wanted to stay in the Simpson Desert a little longer than the vehicle. Pretty impressive if you ask us!
Words by Evan Spence, photography by Brett Hemmings and Tommy Salmon