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VW and Walkinshaw set to ‘go again’

New Amarok has performance potential “above and beyond” current range

5 May 2023

VOLKSWAGEN and Australian go-fast workshop Walkinshaw Performance are set to start fresh with a new take on the new-generation Amarok ute.


The 2023 VW Amarok range has just launched with five variants, including two versions that could essentially be seen as like-for-like replacements of the existing road-focused W580S (Amarok Aventura) and the W580X off-road hero model (Amarok Panamericana).


The Aventura is offered with the choice of the Ford Mustang-derived 2.3-litre turbocharged petrol four-cylinder engine (222kW/452Nm) and is also available with the Ford-sourced 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6 (184kW/600Nm), which is standard in the rugged Panamericana model.


However, despite those two models offering plenty of performance for their respective fields, Volkswagen Australia’s commercial vehicles director, Ryan Davies, told GoAuto that there is room for more performance in the VW ute range.


“We’ve proven that we like to go down the performance-oriented on-road path, with W580S,” he said.


“That leaned into the characteristics of what the existing Amarok was, and also leveraged the expertise of Walkinshaw, and we think there is still room to do that with this new car, above and beyond what we’ve already got.


“We’ve done some initial thinking with Walkinshaw, and we haven’t signed off on a program yet, but… (customers should expect something in) about two-and-a-half to three years. Both parties are keen to go again, so to speak.


“We want to go bigger and better, realistically that would be ideal. We’ve got a couple of different options to be able to do that. But the options of having an off-road, more hardcore off-road model, is also there.


“And whether we do a camper version as well, that’s another possibility. We just have to tackle them one by one,” he added.


While Mr Davies would not divulge too much in the way of details about the new hot ute models, he did indicate that nothing is off the table in terms of powertrain options – be it petrol or diesel.


“We haven’t really pinned ourselves to one or the other, yet we’d like to see what we can get out of both,” he said.


The topic of a camper-spec version makes sense for the VW commercial vehicles line-up, since that part of the German brand manages the adventure-focused derivatives such as the Caddy Beach, California camper, and Crafter camper.


Mr Davies indicated that, while the brand will offer an unprecedented array of off-road accessory items for the new-generation Amarok, it is hard to offer the right vehicle for everyone’s needs as a standalone option.


“The off-road sector is an interesting one – people’s interests are so bespoke, you might not hit the mark. It’s a bit riskier than doing what we did with 580S, because people want different things,” he said.


Some of the items set to be offered by VW for the second-gen Amarok include a roof-top tent, canopy options, roof bars and platforms, different tray covering options and tub liners, a cargo slider, auxiliary battery kit, snorkel, lift kit, wheel and tyre packages and more.


“The benefit of having Volkswagen’s genuine accessories is that from a finance perspective you can load that into the price of the car and they are considered like an option, so you don’t have, let’s say, a $70,000 car and $20,000 worth of options you can’t finance. So we’re able to treat that differently,” Mr Davies told GoAuto.


Volkswagen Australia national manager for marketing and product, Nathan Johnson, said there was a lot of input from the brand’s Australian design team when the new Amarok was being developed alongside Ford as part of the collaboration between the two companies.


“There was a huge focus put on this, there were a lot of tough meetings about what is to be included and what’s not,” he said.


“But we’re glad that from launch, we’ll have a long list that meets the Australian requirements from an on-road driving performance perspective, a styling perspective, but also to take the vehicle to the next level with off-road components like lift-kits and so on.


“As time progresses, we will be introducing more and more to our genuine accessory program, which will really help elevate the whole dealership experience for our customers but also for our dealers as well and give them more confidence when they’re selling these cars as well.”


The mechanically related Ford Ranger offers a similar spectrum of accessory items, and aftermarket accessory manufacturers are already at work to offer alternatives for picky purchasers.


Volkswagen is set to conduct a second launch event for the entry-level Amarok Core and Life models, where it will showcase several the aforementioned accessory items to media and dealers.


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