How Volkswagen and Walkinshaw's 'grand touring' ute is taking shape

The Volkswagen Amarok W580 is not far from Australian showrooms. Before it arrives, Walkinshaw talked us through its development.

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Scott Collie
Scott Collie
Deputy Editor
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The Volkswagen Amarok W580 is on track to arrive in showrooms in May 2021.

A tie-up between Walkinshaw in Clayton, Victoria, and Volkswagen Australia, the Amarok W580 and Amarok W580S will arrive in local showrooms in May.

When it touches down, Volkswagen says the W580 will offer more of a road-focused, grand touring focus than the range of off-road special editions rolling forth from its rivals.

“We know that some of the core attributes, the core strengths of the Amarok itself, are its torquey V6 diesel engine and composed chassis” Nicholas Reid, national marketing and product manager for Volkswagen Commercial, told media.

“Why not take it to another level?”

The team working on the project has pedigree. Before they were working on dual-cab utes, most of the team was involved in developing hot Holdens for HSV – including the meanest sedan Australia has ever seen, the ultra-rare HSV GTSR W1.

It should come as no surprise, then, changes to the W580 extend beyond its tougher new look.

Under the skin it features new twin-tube dampers with a 35mm internal bore, up 3mm on the stock items, and a thicker damper shaft.

Walkinshaw says the larger bore allows for more fluid in the damper, which has allowed it to more precisely tune the way the car behaves over bumps, and the larger shaft makes the damper more durable.

Spring rates remain unchanged, although a lift kit and new rolling stock make for a ride that’s 50mm taller than stock at the front.

Despite the changes, the W580 has the same 3500kg braked towing capacity as the Amarok TDI580 Highline.

The car rides on 20-inch Clayton alloy wheels that are wider than stock for a more aggressive look and “improved balance and grip”.

Volkswagen and Walkinshaw says the revised suspension tune, wheels, and tyres make for a more “sure-footed” ute that “doesn’t feel like a truck”.

“It’s very dynamic in the way that it now drives,” said David Kermond, chassis engineer at Walkinshaw.

“Obviously the donor vehicle allows us to do that because it’s such a good platform to start with. That, coupled with the engine, allows us to highlight those characteristics of the base vehicle.

“It also means that we’ve been able to improve things like steering feel. The linearity from on-centre to off-centre, and off-centre back to on-centre, is really really good.

“It’s a very comfortable car to drive on a freeway or a country b-road, but the moment you get to a tight, twisty road… the car comes alive.”

As for why there’s no more power? Both Walkinshaw and Volkswagen pointed to the fact the Amarok TDI580 is already the fastest dual-cab ute in the land, and questioned the benefit of shaving another few tenths from the 100km/h sprint.

If you are after more punch, the aftermarket is also more than happy to help.

Walkinshaw has fitted a freer-flowing exhaust to the W580, which it says makes for a “nicer overall driving feel through the mid-range” by reducing back pressure.

Production is set to kick off by the end of March, with Walkinshaw having last month completed development testing.

Along with a 3600km towing and off-road torture test through the Australian outback, the Amarok has been put through its paces at the Australian Automotive Research Centre in Anglesea, Victoria.

A testing loop involving everything from bone-shaking cobbles to tight, twisty mountain-style roads was repeated to simulate a lifetime of abuse and stress at the hand of tradies in a hurry.

The AARC’s heat chamber was also called upon to test the cooling efficiency of the W580’s new front end, simulating a car towing its maximum load up a 12 per cent gradient in 38 degree heat.

Annual production capacity is 1200 vehicles, and the deal with Volkswagen will see it building the W580 for two years.

Whether the partnership will continue when the current Amarok is replaced and the new, Ford Ranger-twinned model is released isn’t yet clear.

What is clear is the work being done in Melbourne has caught the eye of Volkswagen Commercial head office in Germany.

A W580 has been shipped to Hanover, although Volkswagen Australia didn’t say exactly why.

Are the engineers in Germany planning to tear the car apart and study its secrets for the next Amarok? We’d say yes…

2021 Volkswagen Amarok W580 pricing

  • 2021 Volkswagen Amarok V6 W580 4×4 auto: $71,990
  • 2021 Volkswagen Amarok V6 W580S 4×4 auto: $79,990

All prices exclude on-road costs.

2021 Volkswagen Amarok W580 standard equipment

The V6 W580 gets:

  • Walkinshaw tuned suspension (incl. front lift)
  • 20 x 9-inch ‘Clayton’ alloy wheels
  • Pirelli scorpion 275/50 R20 tyres
  • Moulded sports bar painted in body colour
  • Unique decals – bonnet & sides
  • Wheel arch extensions
  • Tuned twin exhaust system
  • Walkinshaw grille
  • Interior W580 branding including plaque with build number
  • LED fog lights
  • Unique front grille
  • Unique lower bumper inserts and fog light surrounds
  • Walkinshaw-branded headrests
  • W580 carpet mats
  • Bonnet protector
  • W580 decal pack

The V6 W580S adds:

  • Branded exhaust tips
  • Bonnet decals
  • LED fog lights with cornering function
  • Sail plane with styling bar
  • Front underbody styling element
  • Five-piece protective tub liner
  • Vienne leather interior trim
  • 14-way power-adjustable ErgoComfort front seats
  • Heated front seats
  • Satellite navigation
  • Electric folding side mirrors
  • Colour driver’s multifunction display (MFD)

MORE: Volkswagen Amarok news and reviews

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Scott Collie
Scott Collie
Scott Collie is the Deputy Editor at CarExpert.
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