Flatbed trucks always have names like speciality condoms – Titan, Hilux, Trojan – and the Amarok Aventura took this one step further (I’m a rock, I’m a roll, I’m adventura! I’m your worst nightmare and your wildest dream). But it was a sensitive vehicle with a highly responsive automatic gearbox. In sports mode, it sounded like it was having a panic attack, which made me think masculinity exacts its own heavy price; but how handy it was never to have to think, “Will this fit in my car?” Everything fits in this car. It was a constant battle between civic duty and fun-seeking, as children asked to be ferried about on the flatbed and I had to say no.
You couldn’t forget you weren’t driving a regular car, but at speed it never laboured or showed its bulk. The question is: who would need it? While there are sweet touches – a lid over the back that you can pull closed with a rope and pretend you’re in The Grapes Of Wrath; six decent speakers for the transmission of bluegrass – unless you often need to transport bulky items the weight makes you long for a fitting purpose, as if you had a border collie and no sheep.
At 40k, it’s expensive for freelance construction workers (corporate builders have their own wheels, so you can curse them by name as they turn left on your cycling ass). I could see it for a gentleman gardener, except they always have a Volvo with vegetation growing on it, like the Finn Family Moomintroll. It would be great for a prospector gang, roaming a lawless landscape, unlikely to be chastised for not wearing a seatbelt. A family on the run could fit five in the cabin, all their possessions in a waterproof environment, and escape arrest with a not-bad-at-all acceleration and a top speed of nearly 120mph. If we’re entering a gig economy in which everyone spends part of their life as a delivery driver, that would work. A ski instructor or anyone carrying stuff up mountains would appreciate cornering that is agile yet stable. People who love driving around Scotland in icy conditions, rescuing less competent people who have driven into ditches, would appreciate the permanent four-wheel drive. And if the back was long enough for a horse – someone with a horse.
These are niche categories, but the car industry holds the old-fashioned yet proper view that not everything has to appeal to everybody. The Amarok does a specialist thing; it’s slightly awesome and slightly mystifying, as large things often are.