Article from Which Car.
With a stretched wheelbase, more than 200kW at the wheels and a sweet canopy set-up, this Amarok is ready to tour.
Some people just want to do things differently, be that for the challenge, to stand out from the crowd or just because they don’t like more mainstream offerings available. Ken Miller is one of those people that really just wanted to try something a bit different for his next 4×4 project.
After previously owning a 200 Series Cruiser, Ford Ranger, a chopped dual-cab GQ Patrol and a wild LS3-powered GU Patrol (among other fourbies), the VW Amarok seems like a bit of an ‘out there’ choice, but in Ken’s own words, it’s perfect for his needs. So much so, this is actually his second Amarok. It’s safe to say he’s impressed with the platform, even though he’d love to build a Ram 2500 as a dream tourer, if someone was to make a decent offer on his Amarok … just saying.
When asked why he decided to start with an Amarok, Ken had this to say: “The Amarok is capable, comfortable and it’s just a bit different in Australia to see one so modified.
“I’m rapt with how the build turned out; it makes both short- and long-distance travel nothing but easy and enjoyable.
“I like to be different and don’t like to follow the crowd; I had been liaising with Jake from Tactical Tourers in regard to building me something special, something we could comfortably tour in, carry our boat, tow our van and most importantly, something we could live out of for a day at the beach or a month on the road.”
Now while that seems like an almost impossible task, it goes to show that if you plan right and involve the right people, you can create amazing vehicles that are built with an end goal in mind. The results certainly speak for themselves.
As we all know, every project has its challenges, and Ken’s Amarok is no different. When we asked him about any issues he experienced, it seems like things went as well as possible.
“The main thing to overcome was weight. I was very mindful of what I was adding to the vehicle, and keeping it under the upgraded 3500kg GVM,” Ken says.
“The Concept Canopy is an all-alloy construction, and offers high quality in my opinion, yet is still light. The 350mm chassis extension helps here, as it changes the driving experience, and distributes the weight so much better. It’s a pleasure to drive, and I actually use it as a daily driver and open road cruiser.”
350mm was added to Ken’s Amarok, which also allowed for a 3500kg GVM upgrade. Ken also has the chassis braced, and a custom tail-shaft made up to handle the extra length, weight and power of the custom VW.
The wheelbase extension was handled by the skilled team at Creative Conversions, who Ken says did a great job of the process. While 350mm might not seem like a lot, it makes a huge difference to the way the vehicle drives and handles weight without being a monster on the tracks.
The V6 Amarok is no slouch performance-wise from the factory, but we all know it’s possible to make a good thing even better. Ken paid a visit to Steve at Coolum Motors who has made a name for himself tuning Amaroks (and all diesel 4x4s) with great success.
And the results? Well, how does 201kW of power and 750Nm of torque at the wheels sound? Yeah, pretty sweet if you ask us. Best of all, post tune, the V6 is sipping just 11L/100km, a seriously impressive result.
This power number was achieved with a custom dyno tune, as well as a suite of custom performance parts to make the most of the tune. Starting with a 3.5-inch turbo-back exhaust system to expel waste gases, custom-made out of stainless steel specifically for Ken’s Rok. Getting air in to the V6 is a four-inch Elite Exhausts stainless-steel snorkel with a black seamless finish. One would imagine you’d hear Ken’s air intake before you could see the vehicle, and there’s nothing bad about that.
To remove any lag from the Amarok’s throttle, Ken also added a Torqit throttle controller, which is handy both on- and off-road. While the tools were out, Ken also opted for a Wagner upgraded intercooler kit that has significantly reduced intake temps over the stock VW unit.
After adding a two-inch Outback Armour suspension kit with aftermarket upper control arms, and raising the Amarok a further two inches via a body lift kit, there was plenty of space for larger rubber. Ken has chosen to run the increasingly popular 295x70R17 sized rubber, in the form of Nitto Ridge Grapplers. These have been fitted to XD Heist alloy wheels; six in total counting the two spares Ken carries on the back of the canopy.
So far, this set-up has proven to be super reliable, although Ken admits to carrying a spare (unused) CV joint in the event something goes bang. With the weight of the additional accessories and canopy, Ken has also opted to fit a pair of Airbag Man airbags, with in-cab control. This allows him to tailor the spring rate and ride height of the Amarok, depending on the load he’s carrying.
Starting at the front of Ken’s Amarok, he fitted a Rhino 4×4 bar and one of their 12,000lb winches with synthetic rope. Stock Amarok headlights could at best be described as crap (sorry, but you know it’s true). As such, Ken has thrown the Stedi catalogue at his vehicle, with their HID replacement headlight bulb upgrade, as well as a roof-mounted LED light bar, and a smaller light bar mounted to the front bar.
On the roof of his Amarok, Ken decided on a Rhino-Rack platform, and has added more lighting with a few well-placed Stedi work lights for camp lighting. There are also two awnings bolted to the rack: a Darche 270-degree unit as well as a Rhino-Rack Sunseeker for ultimate coverage when the weather turns sour.
Even though this Amarok drinks so little diesel, Ken had a 140L Long Ranger fuel tank installed, giving him a massive boost in touring range. Considering he no longer has to stop that often for fuel, he decided to upgrade the front seats with comfy leather items, which also look mint in the interior. Other cabin upgrades include, a custom roof console, Redarc Tow-Pro Elite, GME XRS Connect UHF, LED interior lighting, and upgraded speakers with sound deadening in the doors.
The main talking point of this Amarok would have to be the Concept Canopies chassis-mounted alloy canopy. Complete with boat loader and roof-mounted winch for easy loading of the tinny. Inside the canopy, you’ll find a Travel Buddy pie oven, Cel-Fi mobile booster, multiple charging outlets and a twin ARB compressor with hose reel.
The 12V systems are important to get right in any touring 4×4, and Ken has taken no chances, fitting a range of Enerdrive gear including 200amp of lithium battery charged via an Enerdrive charger and 300W of solar when parked up at camp. There’s also a 1000W Enerdrive inverter to power 240V gear, and let’s not forget two fridges to keep food and drinks cool while out exploring. Ken has his priorities in life sorted it seems.