Right, before any of you ask: yes, I’ve bought some Ray-Ban Aviators. And yes, I’ve bought a new trucker baseball cap. Because this is my new long-termer. It’s a Volkswagen Amarok and I’m playing up to as many pick-up truck stereotypes as I can. Yee-haw.
In all seriousness though, why an Amarok? Well, I want to examine a recent trend that’s increasingly seen people opt for a pick-up as a lifestyle vehicle, rather than as a working truck. I don’t own a landscape gardening company or transport pallets and shovels between work sites, but more and more manufacturers are starting to cater for the general public, offering trucks with mod-cons and luxury features, as an alternative to an SUV.
If you’re a business user, you can take advantage of some distinctly preferable Benefit-in-Kind tax rates on trucks compared to cars. Unlike the sliding scale of tax for cars, which varies depending on their CO2 emissions, the rate for pick-ups is fixed. All of this means that the modern pick-up truck is considerably more comfortable and desirable than those of a decade or so ago. I mean, even Mercedes-Benz do one now. I want to find out what benefits come with owning a big truck, and what the drawbacks are too.
I’ve gone for the Highline trim level of Amarok, and under the bonnet is a 224 horsepower, 3.0-litre diesel V6. It’s got four-wheel drive and an eight-speed gearbox. I’ve opted for what I think is the best colour – Ravenna Blue – and I’ve opted to spend a bit extra on lashings of chrome, because let’s face it, a dirty great, metallic blue pick-up truck isn’t exactly subtle. I’m embracing the brashness. So, I’ve added the chrome styling pack for just over £1,100, and I’ve spent around £1,200 on the ergoComfort front seats, which adjust in 14 different ways. All electrically, of course.
Other major options I’ve specced include the Navigation Tech Pack (£1,146), which includes the Discover Media navigation system, controlled via a touchscreen in the centre, as well as multi-function display between the speedo and rev counter, and some power folding wing mirrors. Bearing in the mind the size of the truck, I suspect those will be useful, and I hope the navi system brings the infotainment options up to SUV levels. It’s got Apple CarPlay and everything.
I’ve also gone for some front fog lights (£84), and a protective coating for the loading deck (£810) to stop it getting chewed up by whatever I end up throwing into it. Oh, and a towbar (£348). I’m not planning to tow anything, but I suspect having one will keep resale values up. And maybe I can use it for a bike rack in the future.