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Volkswagen’s Ranger wagon rival on hold

No go: Volkswagen has ruled out an SUV wagon derivative of the Amarok ute - at least for the time being.

VW pours cold water on SUV Amarok version to compete with Ford's Ranger-based wagon

Volkswagen logo16 Mar 2012

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS in SPAIN

VOLKSWAGEN will not introduce an Amarok-based seven-seat SUV to rival the rugged Ranger-based SUV that Ford Australia is believed to be developing – at least not in the near future.

Speaking to GoAuto at the international launch of single-cab and ZF eight-speed automatic versions of the Amarok near Malaga in Spain this week, project development engineer Karsten Wohler revealed there is no wagon program in the pipeline at this point.

“We are not pursing such a vehicle,” he said. “And there are no plans to do so.”

With more engine and commercial vehicle variants of the Amarok on the way to expand the Amarok’s global reach, it appears the German giant does not have the time or resources to forge into yet more new territory with a seven-seater SUV derivative.

However, another senior Volkswagen AG source said did not rule out a Toyota Prado-style wagon based on the Amarok one-tonne pick-up, since planning for the current model’s successor has already begun in earnest and Wolfsburg product gurus were now investigating “all possibilities”, including a off-road oriented passenger wagon to compliment the more luxurious Touareg.

While the Amarok is a trailblazer for Europe’s largest car-maker in the burgeoning one-tonne pick-up market, an SUV version would represent its first direct competitor for models like the T6 Ranger-based SUV and a conceptually similar wagon version of Holden’s upcoming Colorado, as well as Mitsubishi’s Triton-based Challenger and Nissan’s Navara-based Pathfinder, which will be replaced a more road-friendly model riding on a car-like unitary chassis next year.

The next-generation Amarok ute might have to be on sale sooner rather than later due to the vast amount of work needed for the current pick-up to meet the more stringent Euro 6 emissions requirements due in place by 2016, which could necessitate the use of lighter materials and more efficient diesel and petrol engines.

Asked what competitors Volkswagen had benchmarked when developing the existing Amarok during the late 2000s, Mr Wohler said the current Toyota HiLux was chosen for its robustness and durability, while Nissan’s D40 Navara was used as an example of “convenience and value for money”.

As a result of the comparisons, Volkswagen says the Amarok has been designed for an operating life of more than 300,000km, thanks in part to the fitment of special turbo vane technology for the diesel engines and extensive gravel-road durability work.

“The commercial vehicle life cycle needs to be longer than that of a normal passenger car,” said Mr Wohler, who revealed that Wolfsburg will in the coming weeks take delivery of a new Ranger – which has emerged as one of the Amarok’s fiercest new competitors since launch - for a complete engineering shakedown.

“We hear the Ranger is a worthy competitor to the Amarok,” Mr Wohler said. “But we have read many of the early reports from your colleagues… and believe the Amarok is already more than a match for the Ranger.”

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