GUIDE

Volkswagen Amarok 2.0L

The tuner’s guide

WORDS BY MARTIN DONNON, PHOTOS BY ARNOLD ARCHIVE

The Volkswagen Amarok burst onto the Australian 4X4 Ute scene in 2011 with massive fan-fair and a fair bit of scepticism, too. Combining the Volkswagen Group’s traits of high-quality interior fit-and-finish with decades of leading-edge diesel design, the well-priced Amarok should have been a no-brainer ... and indeed after a time it was.

Biggest surprise and fuel for the initial sceptics was Volkswagen’s choice of an eight-speed automatic transmission which lacked traditional low-range gearing, combined with a full-time All-Wheel Drive system known as 4-Motion. Add to this a bi-turbo engine which at the time was a 4X4 ute first, and there were plenty of raised eyebrows. Questions of ongoing capability and reliability in ‘serious’ environments were common. It was only the manual Amarok that offered low-range (and currently its only the four cylinder that has the manual low-range option) – a manual V6 will be available on the entry-level Core from December.

We now know that those early fears amounted to nothing. The Amarok has cemented itself as a durable and capable workhorse and 4X4 that can tackle almost anything thrown at it. As such there is a massive and thriving tuning market to support the Amarok, and to get the real nitty-gritty we spoke to one of Australia’s most well-respected Amarok specialists, Steve Houghton from Coolum Motors/CRD Tech.

The Amarok 2.0 has proven itself as a reliable motor in the bush, and you can get strong performance out of them with just a few tweaks

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@directionplus.AU

FLASH TUNING AND ESTIMATED POWER INCREASE
Depending on who you choose for a Flash tune the cost can be anywhere between $1150 and $1600 – but don’t base your decision on price. While results can vary Steve was able to tell us that a properly tuned 2.0 Amarok will start off with 85kW of power at all four wheels (remember wheel power reads lower than manufacturer power) totally stock and improve to 110kW when tuned. That’s a 30% power gain, and when combined with another 60-70Nm of torque down low a tuned Amarok is an impressive thing to drive.

Have a look at the dyno printout we have included here to get a feel for when and where the power and torque gains happen, and you can begin to understand why one of the first mods any budding Amarok enthusiast will be carrying out is a tune.

Note: These figures will change when going to the later MY13 Amarok 2.0 with the CSHA engine (versus earlier CDCA) having a slightly larger turbo arrangement and larger injectors. Add another 10kW or so if you have the later Amarok.

“2L Amaroks as a rule don’t suffer with premature DPF problems of constant limp modes and blockages that seem to affect some other brands of vehicle. Nothing lasts forever though and still expect your 2L Amarok DPF to degenerate over time.”

PLUG-IN CHIPS
There are a lot of different plug-in Chip solutions for the Amarok, but only the more sophisticated examples will deliver both consistent and reliable results. Have a look around and speak to various suppliers if a Chip is in your cross-hairs.

EXHAUST UPGRADES
All Amaroks are DPF (Diesel Particulate Filter) equipped, so the gains of fitting a larger exhaust system are not huge. Steve recommends one of the many 3-inch systems that are available as being able to add another few kilowatts and newton-metres, but they really aren’t mandatory unless part of a larger performance ‘package’.

On a bright note, Steve was quick to point out that Amaroks as a rule don’t suffer with the DPF problems of constant limp modes and blockages that seem to affect some other brands of vehicle (Toyota we’re looking at you). The best approach here being, ‘if it’s not busted then don’t fix it’ when it comes to Amarok exhausts.

INTERCOOLER UPGRADES
Unique to Amarok is the placement of the intercooler between the air-conditioner condenser unit and the vehicle radiator. On first glance, you wouldn’t think this arrangement would work very well at all, but real-world data suggests that it is as effective as traditional forms of in-front placement.

Steve invested the time in the early days though working with Aussie cooling specialist PWR to develop a straight-fit solution that can drop temps as much as 13-degrees Celsius at full-noise and add up to 20Nm changing nothing else. Intercooler upgrades can always add a little on a dyno run, but their real repeatable results are out on the road under real-world conditions, which is why Steve recommends upgrading intercoolers as part of any serious performance application.

TURBOCHARGER UPGRADES 
Steve has put plenty of time into researching and developing a turbocharger upgrade for the factory bi-turbo system, and very early on learned the best approach is to only change the bigger of the two turbochargers via the machining and fitment of a larger billet compressor wheel to increase airflow rates, and thus power and torque.

Apparently, if the smaller of the turbochargers is modified it creates problems in the ‘overlap’ which can lead to torque holes in the vehicles curve, which can then be felt as dead-spots when driving on the road. When modified with Steve’s approach expect up to another 20kW at the tyres, and indeed another 30-40Nm which will take the 2.0 litre Amarok into V6 territory.

OTHER BITS AND PIECES
The most common supporting accessory that should be added to the Amarok in Steve’s opinion is a Catch Can. Having trialled and tested most everything on the market Steve has settled on the Process West TERRATUFF SEPR8R unit which takes the oil and moisture out on the Amarok intake charge via its unique filtration system.

When quizzed on whether to change or modify the airbox on the Amarok Steve reckon there is very little if anything to be had. Add a snorkel for sure if you want to splash around in deeper water but changing filter construction and material doesn’t amount to any kind of gain that you can see or feel.

There is however some gain to be had in adding a silicone or aluminium intake hose (of which many exist in the aftermarket). The reason for this is in extremely hot conditions the factory rubber hose can suck flat, and when it does the engine output will suffer, and in extreme cases quite literally ‘cut-out’.

Speaking of hot and potentially dusty conditions it may also pay to have a look at one of the ‘dust kits’ that exist to protect the serpentine belts, as when a serpentine gets shredded there is a strong chance it can end up in your timing belt with a whole heap of mechanical carnage ensuing.

AND THE GOOD NEWS 
If you do decide to tweak your Amarok for better performance (and of course you pick the right quality parts and tuner for the job) then don’t be worried about turning your pride and joy into a hand-grenade. The bottom line is that Amaroks are tough and reliable. The engines are strong, and the auto ZF 8 Speed automatic transmission is capable of handling anything that 2.0 engine can throw at it (essentially, it’s the same piece as in the V6).

About the only problematic part of the Amarok 2.0 according to Steve is the EGR cooler splitting in the later cars which can potentially introduce coolant into the oil and give some not so pleasant lubrication (or lack of) results.

GUIDE

Volkswagen Amarok 2.0L

The Volkswagen Amarok burst onto the Australian 4X4 Ute scene in 2011 with massive fan-fair and a fair bit of scepticism, too. Combining the Volkswagen Group’s traits of high-quality interior fit-and-finish with decades of leading-edge diesel design, the well-priced Amarok should have been a no-brainer ... and indeed after a time it was.

Biggest surprise and fuel for the initial sceptics was Volkswagen’s choice of an eight-speed automatic transmission which lacked traditional low-range gearing, combined with a full-time All-Wheel Drive system known as 4-Motion. Add to this a bi-turbo engine which at the time was a 4X4 ute first, and there were plenty of raised eyebrows. Questions of ongoing capability and reliability in ‘serious’ environments were common. It was only the manual Amarok that offered low-range (and currently its only the four cylinder that has the manual low-range option) – a manual V6 will be available on the entry-level Core from December.

We now know that those early fears amounted to nothing. The Amarok has cemented itself as a durable and capable workhorse and 4X4 that can tackle almost anything thrown at it. As such there is a massive and thriving tuning market to support the Amarok, and to get the real nitty-gritty we spoke to one of Australia’s most well-respected Amarok specialists, Steve Houghton from Coolum Motors/CRD Tech.

The tuner’s guide

WORDS BY MARTIN DONNON, PHOTOS BY ARNOLD ARCHIVE

The Amarok 2.0 has proven itself as a reliable motor in the bush, and you can get strong performance out of them with just a few tweaks

@directionplus.AU
ADVERTISEMENT
SCROLL TO CONTINUE

FLASH TUNING AND ESTIMATED POWER INCREASE
Depending on who you choose for a Flash tune the cost can be anywhere between $1150 and $1600 – but don’t base your decision on price. While results can vary Steve was able to tell us that a properly tuned 2.0 Amarok will start off with 85kW of power at all four wheels (remember wheel power reads lower than manufacturer power) totally stock and improve to 110kW when tuned. That’s a 30% power gain, and when combined with another 60-70Nm of torque down low a tuned Amarok is an impressive thing to drive.

Have a look at the dyno printout we have included here to get a feel for when and where the power and torque gains happen, and you can begin to understand why one of the first mods any budding Amarok enthusiast will be carrying out is a tune.

Note: These figures will change when going to the later MY13 Amarok 2.0 with the CSHA engine (versus earlier CDCA) having a slightly larger turbo arrangement and larger injectors. Add another 10kW or so if you have the later Amarok.

“2L Amaroks as a rule don’t suffer with premature DPF problems of constant limp modes and blockages that seem to affect some other brands of vehicle. Nothing lasts forever though and still expect your 2L Amarok DPF to degenerate over time.”

ADVERTISEMENT
SCROLL TO CONTINUE

PLUG-IN CHIPS
There are a lot of different plug-in Chip solutions for the Amarok, but only the more sophisticated examples will deliver both consistent and reliable results. Have a look around and speak to various suppliers if a Chip is in your cross-hairs.

EXHAUST UPGRADES
All Amaroks are DPF (Diesel Particulate Filter) equipped, so the gains of fitting a larger exhaust system are not huge. Steve recommends one of the many 3-inch systems that are available as being able to add another few kilowatts and newton-metres, but they really aren’t mandatory unless part of a larger performance ‘package’.

On a bright note, Steve was quick to point out that Amaroks as a rule don’t suffer with the DPF problems of constant limp modes and blockages that seem to affect some other brands of vehicle (Toyota we’re looking at you). The best approach here being, ‘if it’s not busted then don’t fix it’ when it comes to Amarok exhausts.

INTERCOOLER UPGRADES
Unique to Amarok is the placement of the intercooler between the air-conditioner condenser unit and the vehicle radiator. On first glance, you wouldn’t think this arrangement would work very well at all, but real-world data suggests that it is as effective as traditional forms of in-front placement.

Steve invested the time in the early days though working with Aussie cooling specialist PWR to develop a straight-fit solution that can drop temps as much as 13-degrees Celsius at full-noise and add up to 20Nm changing nothing else. Intercooler upgrades can always add a little on a dyno run, but their real repeatable results are out on the road under real-world conditions, which is why Steve recommends upgrading intercoolers as part of any serious performance application.

TURBOCHARGER UPGRADES 
Steve has put plenty of time into researching and developing a turbocharger upgrade for the factory bi-turbo system, and very early on learned the best approach is to only change the bigger of the two turbochargers via the machining and fitment of a larger billet compressor wheel to increase airflow rates, and thus power and torque.

Apparently, if the smaller of the turbochargers is modified it creates problems in the ‘overlap’ which can lead to torque holes in the vehicles curve, which can then be felt as dead-spots when driving on the road. When modified with Steve’s approach expect up to another 20kW at the tyres, and indeed another 30-40Nm which will take the 2.0 litre Amarok into V6 territory.

OTHER BITS AND PIECES
The most common supporting accessory that should be added to the Amarok in Steve’s opinion is a Catch Can. Having trialled and tested most everything on the market Steve has settled on the Process West TERRATUFF SEPR8R unit which takes the oil and moisture out on the Amarok intake charge via its unique filtration system.

When quizzed on whether to change or modify the airbox on the Amarok Steve reckon there is very little if anything to be had. Add a snorkel for sure if you want to splash around in deeper water but changing filter construction and material doesn’t amount to any kind of gain that you can see or feel.

There is however some gain to be had in adding a silicone or aluminium intake hose (of which many exist in the aftermarket). The reason for this is in extremely hot conditions the factory rubber hose can suck flat, and when it does the engine output will suffer, and in extreme cases quite literally ‘cut-out’.

Speaking of hot and potentially dusty conditions it may also pay to have a look at one of the ‘dust kits’ that exist to protect the serpentine belts, as when a serpentine gets shredded there is a strong chance it can end up in your timing belt with a whole heap of mechanical carnage ensuing.

AND THE GOOD NEWS 
If you do decide to tweak your Amarok for better performance (and of course you pick the right quality parts and tuner for the job) then don’t be worried about turning your pride and joy into a hand-grenade. The bottom line is that Amaroks are tough and reliable. The engines are strong, and the auto ZF 8 Speed automatic transmission is capable of handling anything that 2.0 engine can throw at it (essentially, it’s the same piece as in the V6).

About the only problematic part of the Amarok 2.0 according to Steve is the EGR cooler splitting in the later cars which can potentially introduce coolant into the oil and give some not so pleasant lubrication (or lack of) results.

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