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VW Amarok SUV in development

Hit for 6: The refreshed version of the Amarok arrives in V6 guise later in the year and is expected to have a positive impact on sales.

Work picks up on SUV version of Volkswagen’s Amarok ute

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Volkswagen logo17 Aug 2016

VOLKSWAGEN is developing an SUV version of its Amarok ute that could come to market as a rival for large capable off-roaders such as the Ford Everest and Toyota Prado.

While the German giant had plans for a wagon version of the Amarok at the beginning of the ute development stage several years ago, the model was put on ice, but that looks set to change.

Volkswagen Group Australia director of commercial vehicles Carlos Santos said development work on an Amarok-based SUV had recommenced, suggesting the rugged wagon still has a future in the line-up.

“There is some very serious development happening at the moment for an SUV based on Amarok, which would be quite a large passenger vehicle-type setup,” he told journalists in Melbourne this week.

“It’s not confirmed and it’s been going on since the start of Amarok but they have just started to reignite discussion again.”

Mr Santos said the introduction of the Volkswagen Group V6 TDI engine to the refreshed Amarok range could improve the chances of an SUV version being built and sold globally.

“Obviously with this V6 engine, that is an engine that is able to be sold in the US potentially,” he said.

“It would never get into the States with current 2.0-litre (four-cylinder diesel). But the V6 is an engine we know from (Porsche) Cayenne, from (Audi) Q7, from Touareg so it’s a well-proven, very known engine that is currently sold.”

If an Amarok-based SUV surfaces, its main rivals would be other ute-based SUVs including the Toyota Fortuner, Ford Everest, Mitsubishi Pajero Sport, Holden Trailblazer and Isuzu MU-X, as well as other large and rugged off-roaders like the Toyota Prado, Jeep Grand Cherokee and Mitsubishi Pajero.

GoAuto understands that the next-generation Amarok is due in 2019 and given the lengthy development period and the fact that the current ute is nearing the end of its product life-cycle, it is more likely that an Amarok-based SUV would surface in next-gen guise.

The Amarok-based SUV is not the only large SUV Volkswagen is working on, with the third-generation five-seat Touareg in development as well as a US-focused seven-seat SUV likely to be based on the 2013 CrossBlue concept.

GoAuto believes that there is no relationship between the Amarok and the seven-seat SUV being developed for the US.

Volkswagen will launch the refreshed Amarok V6 TDI ute in Australia in November.

Initially, this will be supplied from Hanover, Germany before production of the V6 version ramps up in Pacheco, Argentina early next year when sourcing will switch. The facelifted 2.0-litre four-cylinder version will have an official Australian launch in March next year.

The beefy 3.0-litre TDI V6 pumps out 165kW/550Nm – the only six-cylinder diesel in its class – can be matched with an eight-speed automatic transmission and 4Motion four-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive.

A number of variants are likely to be offered with the V6 including a special launch edition dubbed Aventura that will top the range.

With the combination of the new V6 and a much more passenger car-like cabin, there is significant pre-launch interest in the updated ute, according to Mr Santos.

“We are well and truly oversubscribed on what supply we have coming this year,” he said. “It’s a nice problem to have.

“We are probably not getting the number (supply) we would want to get this year. We haven’t done anything to promote it yet. There has been some press about the car.

“There are over 2000 real leads asking for test drives on the car and right now it looks like we are getting about 300 cars this year.”

Mr Santos said while he is expecting Amarok sales to improve with the new model, it is unlikely that Volkswagen would be up there with the best sellers in the pick-up segment.

“Top five probably means about 18,000 a year. I don’t think we are quite there,” he said.

“I think the volume opportunity is probably somewhere between 10-12,000 for that car. That still puts us in position seven or maybe six. Certainly not top five. To get to top five you really need a bottom end car, like a workhorse cheaper entrant.

“We are never going to be the cheapest, we can’t afford to be the cheapest. And I don’t think that is where we want to play either. I don’t think we need to be number five and get 18-20,000 utes a year, although it would be nice. But the reality is I think … if we really do it well and have the right dealer network and get servicing and everything working, I think it is probably 10-12,000 a year.”

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