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Driven: Volkswagen lands power punch with Amarok

Volkswagen breaks $70,000 barrier with 190kW/580Nm Amarok TDI580 Ultimate pick-up

26 Sep 2018

VOLKSWAGEN Commercial Vehicles Australia’s most expensive and most powerful Amarok dual-cab pick-up yet, the $71,990 (before on-road costs) TDI580 Ultimate, undercuts two of its key rivals in price while also beating them in the power and torque stakes.
Available on restricted supply, the TDI580 Ultimate is $3500 dearer than its TDI550 predecessor but cheaper than the $74,990 Ford Ranger Raptor and $79,415 Mercedes-Benz X350d Power that punch out 157kW/500Nm and 190kW/550Nm respectively.
The Ultimate ups its performance ante with a revised 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 diesel engine, dubbed TDI580, that pumps out 190kW of power from 3250 to 4500rpm and 580Nm of torque from 1400 to 3000rpm – an improvement of 25kW/30Nm over the TDI550.
The TDI580 can increase its maximum power to 200kW (+10kW) from 3500 to 4000rpm via an overboost function that is fully activated in third and fourth gear when the accelerator is depressed by 70 per cent or more. It is available for up to 10 seconds between 50 and 120km/h, while peak torque stretches to 3250rpm.
To achieve these higher outputs, new pistons and injectors have been fitted to the turbo-diesel unit, while its Engine Control Unit (ECU) has been retuned.
As a result, the Ultimate can now sprint from standstill to 100km/h in 7.3 seconds – 0.6s quicker than before – while the Ranger Raptor and X350d Power take 10.5s and 7.5s respectively to reach triple digits.
The Ultimate’s claimed fuel consumption on the combined cycle test drops from 9.0 litres per 100 kilometres with the Euro5-compliant TDI550 to 8.9L/100km with the Euro6-standard TDI580, while its tested carbon dioxide emissions are now two grams per kilometre lower, at 234g/km.
Speaking to GoAuto this week at the Amarok TDI580 Ultimate national media launch in the Yarra Valley, Victoria, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles Australia director Carlos Santos revealed that supply of the new model will be limited this year.
“Lots of dealers have already sold most of their allocation for the first couple of months,” he said. “We were going to get 400 (units, but) we’re going to get less now because of shipping delays out of Germany.
“That’s slowed our number down. So, I’m a bit nervous about not getting enough … I think it’ll be around three-something. It’s hard to tell. It’s all about timing.
“Hopefully we can get them here, because I think that we’ll sell most of them. When you first launch it, that’s when all the people flock to the top end.”
As reported, TDI550 variants account for 70 per cent of Amarok sales in Australia, with four-cylinder versions commanding the remaining 30 per cent.
With the addition of the TDI580 Ultimate, Mr Santos explained that the V6’s slice is expected to increase to more than 80 per cent when supply frees up next year.
“Ultimate traditionally has been about 10 per cent of (V6 volume),” he said. “If we sell 10,000 (Amaroks) a year, 7000 of them will be V6, so about 700.
“I’d be more than happy with that (next year). I think that’s a good number. I don’t think you want to flood the market with something like that. I think you need to keep it, not exclusive, but certainly you don’t want to go too hard.
“It’s better to protect it, have it at the right price without an oversupply, because I think it’s pretty special. There’s not much like it in the market.”
When questioned if some Amarok buyers might take issue with the Ultimate’s new $70,000-plus pricetag, Mr Santos indicated that more TDI580 variants are on their way, albeit in a limited-run capacity.
“I think we’ve got an option for people that don’t want to spend that,” he said. “I’m planning a couple of special editions in (the TDI580 Ultimate), probably next year, where we might have some slightly lower-spec versions of that, but with some design elements that are pretty cool.
“I think we’ll get the people that want that car. I think it’s quite well-priced for what it is.”
Mr Santos added that a second full-time TDI580 variant will be considered in the future, with it likely to be positioned above the TDI550 Highline, which sits one step below the TDI580 Ultimate and checks in at $60,490.
“I think we’ll look at what that could be,” he said. “It’s probably something between Highline and Ultimate. The price allows a bit of a gap there, so I think there’s a limited edition like we’ve done in the past with Dark Labels and Canyons.
“Longer term, maybe we roll that (TDI580) engine into a Highline, but then I’d want to keep the separation somehow. It’d still go up in price.”
Just like the TDI550, the TDI580 pairs Volkswagen’s full-time 4Motion all-wheel-drive system with an eight-speed torque-convertor automatic transmission from automotive supplier ZF.
Other upgrades for the Ultimate include one-size-larger 20-inch Talca alloy wheels (previously a $990 option), a silver front skid plate, a 580 tailgate badge, a black interior roofliner and the exclusive availability of Peacock Green metallic paint as a $610 option alongside eight carry-over colours.
Standard equipment continues to extend to bi-Xenon headlights, LED daytime running lights, front foglights with cornering functionality, four-wheel disc brakes, power-folding side mirrors, a UV-resistant spray-on tub liner, a stainless-less sports bar, illuminated stainless-steel side steps, front and rear parking sensors, a reversing camera and tyre pressure monitoring.
Inside, Nappa leather upholstery, 14-way power-adjustable front seats with heating functionality, a leather-trimmed multi-function steering wheel with paddle shifters, a 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system, satellite navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support, a colour multi-function display, alloy sports pedals, carpet floor mats and dual-zone climate control feature.
Braked towing capacity remains at 3500kg, while gross combination mass (GCM) continues to be 6000kg.
Sales of the Amarok have held steady this year, with 6058 examples sold to the end of August – a 0.1 per cent decrease over the 6066 deliveries made during the same period in 2017.
As such, the Amarok is ninth in the ute segment, trailing the Toyota HiLux (34,424 units), Ford Ranger (28,571), Mitsubishi Triton (16,985), Holden Colorado (12,504) and Isuzu D-Max (11,900), among others.

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