While BMW was busy waxing their bobsleds at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, the engineering team at Volkswagen was making history by crossing the treacherous glacier-covered Sredinny Range as part of a Polar Expedition to promote the Olympics. Three specially outfitted Volkswagen Amarok Pickups carrying a total of nine passengers made the 9,942-mile, 66-day trip from Moscow to the city of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky on the Kamchatka Peninsula. The team gained entry into the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest off-road journey through a single country. They were the first people to do so.
The Volkswagen Amarok, possibly the toughest pickup that Americans have never heard of, has been in production since 2010. The only modifications to the Polar Expedition variants of the production Amarok Pickups, currently being sold in South America, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Russia, and Europe, were long-travel heavy-duty shocks and huge tires with deep ridges to navigate the extreme amounts of snow and ice expected when driving over a glacier. The only modifications to the body of the Amarok were the addition of a safety roll cage and cutting of the fender wells to accommodate the jumbo tires. The trucks were also outfitted with GPS navigation due to the fact that there were no existing roads through this vast frozen wilderness.
The four-wheel drive Polar Expedition Amaroks were powered by regular production twin-turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder diesel engines featuring direct fuel injection technology. Turbocharged direct injection (TDI) fuel delivery systems are extremely reliable and provide excellent fuel efficiency with optimum horsepower and torque. The high torque rating of the diesel engines is ideal for off-roading where high rates of speed are not required; only plenty of torque to push over and through anything that is in your path.
As you can see the Amarok pickup looks cool. It is not currently available in the U.S. but I believe that off-road and sport truck enthusiasts alike would find it quite interesting. As of this writing, the Amarok is being produced solely in General Pachecho, Argentina. Annual production figures are approximately 90,000-units and the Volkswagen Group has plans to begin production in Hanover, Germany to meet consumer demand in the European market.
It is offered in three trim levels. The Base model is a stripped down work truck, the Trendline adds body-colored bumpers, power accessories, a CD-player, air conditioning, and larger wheels. The Highline version adds chrome exterior accents, 18-inch tires and aluminum wheels, leather seating, and automatic climate control. Chassis variations include a single cab or four-door pickup and a five-to-seven passenger SUV, as well.
All variants are available with two engine options. Both are 2.0-liter TDI diesels. The entry level engine is equipped with a single turbocharger and generates 138-hp and 250 lb.-ft. of torque, while the top-tier motor is outfitted with a twin-turbocharger and puts out 177-hp and 309 lb.-ft. of torque. Rear-wheel drive is standard but 4Motion on-demand four-wheel drive and 4Motion all-time all-wheel drive are also viable options. Transmission choices include an eight-speed automatic and a six-speed manual.