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Volkswagen bolsters V6 Amarok tow rating

Power plus: Despite holding a horsepower advantage over rivals, Volkswagen Australia is hinting at a higher performance version.

VW Australia lifts tow rating of V6 Amarok, considering performance version

5 Feb 2018

VOLKSWAGEN Australia has lifted the towing capacity across its flagship Amarok V6 dual-cab ute line up, raising the limit from 3000kg to 3500kg.

The increase - which is paired with a lift in the V6 Amarok’s gross combined mass weight from 5550kg to 6000kg – has been achieved via changes to the rear bar of the Amarok, and puts it in line with rivals like the Ford Ranger, Isuzu D-Max and Toyota HiLux.

Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles national marketing manager Nick Reid said the boost in towing capacity made it a more desirable offering for those in the market for such a vehicle.

“It also means that we’re above the Mitsubishi Triton which is 3.1 tonnes (3100kg) and the Toyota HiLux SR5 which is 3200kg,” Mr Reid told GoAuto at the Bathurst 12 Hour last weekend, adding that it is important that customers understand what their gross vehicle mass is.

“People who are actually towing 3500kg are usually pretty aware of what they’re towing. The best selling caravan from (caravan brand) Jayco, for example, is 2.5 tonnes.”

Mr Reid said that V6 Amarok customers were starting to ask about a higher towing limit for the 165kW, 550Nm V6-powered ute.

“Now that we’ve got that really powerful engine, it’s caught the attention of towers who are looking for an alternative to what they were driving previously and looking to the ute segment for towing.”

The changes do not apply to the four-cylinder version of the Amarok, which keeps its 3000kg tow rating.

The V6 range currently stands at three – the Sportline, Highline and Ultimate – but the local importer is still negotiating with head office over the availability of an entry-level Core version, which has been the subject of discussion since 2016.

“We are in negotiations we the factory at the moment about how we push down with the range to create a more tradie-focused version,” said Mr Reid, who acknowledged that discussions had been in play for some time.

“We have been working on it for a while,” he said. “The Australian market is unique in that it’s a capacity-driven market (for Amarok), so we’re aligning with other markets that aren’t as capacity-driven. Looking at the UK, they were apprehensive about the V6, but it’s been extremely popular there, and exceeded their expectations by a long shot.

“The acceptance of the V6 model is growing, and that will help our case.”

Mr Reid suggested, however, that strong sales of the V6 Amarok in the UK helps when it comes to negotiations.

Mr Reid also confirmed that the company has discussed the release of a more sport-orientated model to go up against the likes of the incoming Ford Ranger Raptor and HSV’s Colorado SportCat.

He did not deny that the Wolfsburg badge – used on cars like the Golf R – is under consideration.

“Definitely,” he said, when asked if a Wolfsburg-badged Amarok was under consideration. “We’ve always offered special edition models like the Canyon, the Dark Label and the Atacama. We’ve got a Dark Label coming soon, which is a new take on the Dark Label and looks really sharp and unique, and we’re looking at how we can take that further over the mid- and long term.

“We’re also looking at how we maintain our power leadership in the segment that we have at the moment. We have no intention of giving that up.”

The new Dark Label is expected to fall between the Highline and the Ultimate in specification, with larger rims and a new decal set amongst its specs.

Mr Reid said that the track version of the Amarok – which posted a sub- three-minute lap time during a display at the Bathurst 12 Hour had generated a surprising amount of interest.

“We really shouldn’t be that surprised, though, given that one in five or six vehicles sold in Australia is a pick-up,” he said. “Not everyone uses them for off-road or commercial work. We can even look at the uptake of the 20-inch wheel version on the Ultimate to show that people aren’t looking to go four-wheel-driving. They’re looking at more sporty, on-road features.”

Volkswagen ran its apprentice-built Amarok Ultimate at Mt Panorama in conjunction with the Bathurst 12 Hour, where it posted a 2min 57sec lap time on Saturday in the hands of racer Renato Loberto.

A new version is still at least two to three years away, and even though Mr Reid was unable to offer any insights into the second-generation car, he acknowledged that safety and driver aid upgrades to the Amarok are being discussed.

“If you look at the noise in the segment at the moment, with Mercedes-Benz entering the market and other European brands all getting in, it’s something we’re looking at,” he added. “If you want to sell volume, you have to be in that segment.”

VW sold 606 Amarok 4x4s in December, finishing the year 22 per cent up from 2016 with 8722 sales, versus the category-leading Ford Ranger, which sold 36,932 for the year.

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