Volkswagen Australia claims to have taken a pool of lucky Amarok customers on “Australia’s most remote test drive experience”, driving a fleet new dual-cab utes from Broken Hill to Birdsville circuiting the Simpson Desert.

    The fleet of 17 utes undertook the expedition to the Big Red Bash, Australia’s most remote music festival located near the intersection of Queensland, South Australia and the Northern Territory. VW Australia is a main sponsor of the music event.

    Some 4000 kilometres were covered in Australia’s harshest conditions, including an unseasonably wet outback climate which included a series of road closures and recently reopened trails with over 100km of constant mud.

    Starting in Broken Hill, the 17 Amarok TDI600 V6 models navigated the Sturt National Park into regional Queensland, along the Warry Gate Road to Eromanga and then Windorah. The final stretch saw the fleet of Amaroks drive from Windorah to Birdsville.

    Once at the Big Red Bash, Volkswagen opened a remote test drive centre for customers to try out its all-new ute over three days – with the company reporting over 130 test drives conducted in during that period.

    There was even one customer that undertook arguably one of the longest test drives ever, driving one of the vehicles over 2000 kilometres back to Sydney after their own vehicle broke down at the festival.

    “We wanted to show real Australians, families towing caravans and exploring the outback to the fullest, the depth of engineering in our Australian designed second-generation Amarok,” said Nathan Johnson, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles’ national manager for marketing and product.

    “The all-new Amarok is the direct result of taking Australians’ feedback on board and creating a ute born from tough love delivered by our dual-cab ute-loving market – [the Amarok’s] biggest worldwide.”

    Volkswagen Australia launched the new-generation Amarok in May, following four years in development including a significant portion of local engineering and testing – a collaboration between VW’s Melbourne-based team and brand representatives in Hannover, Germany.

    The company’s latest dual-cab ute is also a co-development between itself and Ford, utilising the heavily re-engineered T6 platform from the new Ford Ranger and Everest to create its second-gen pickup.

    Within a couple of months the Amarok already accounts for 2.3 per cent of the 4×4 ute market in Australia, with 2202 vehicles registered to the end of June. However, it’s still barely a patch on the market-leading Ford Ranger 4×4 (23,620 units) and Toyota HiLux 4×4 (21,808 units).

    At the Australian media launch in May, VW’s local team said it expects to sell up to 8000 units of the South African-made (previously Argentina) utility in 2023, with ‘solid supply’ expected to see out the remainder of the year following the initial rush of launch arrivals.

    “What we see in terms of the production out of the factory is good. We would envisage we’ll be able to sell around 8000 this year, and that’s only because that’s what we can get our hands on,” Ryan Davies, VW Commercial boss told CarExpert in May.

    For reference, the Amarok’s best year in Australia was 2018, which saw the company delivered 9290 vehicles to local customers – the brand’s current forecast indicates 2024 could see a new record in the second-gen Amarok’s first full year on sale, should 2023 supply hinder progress beyond the already disclosed 8000 figure for May-December 2023.

    The full local range is now on sale in Australia following the staggered launch of lower-end Core and Life variants, with the line-up kicking off from $52,990 for the Core TDI405 single-turbo diesel, climbing to $79,990 for the flagship Aventura in both TDI600 V6 turbo-diesel and TSI452 four-cylinder turbo petrol guises.

    Birdsville’s Big Red Bash – which celebrated its 10th anniversary this year – ran from 4-6 July, 2023. The show will hit the road and be hosted next by the Broken Hill Mundi Mundi Bash from 17-19 August, headlined by famous local acts including Icehouse, John Williamson, Hoodoo Gurus, Human Nature, Pete Murray, The Angels, Troy Cassar-Daley, Kate Ceberano, Wendy Matthews and more.

    Click the images for the full gallery – trust me, they’re great!

    MORE: Everything Volkswagen Amarok

    James Wong

    James Wong is the Production Editor at CarExpert based in Melbourne, Australia. With experience on both media and manufacturer sides of the industry, James has a specialty for product knowledge which stems from a life-long obsession with cars. James is a Monash University journalism graduate, an avid tennis player, and the proud charity ambassador for Drive Against Depression – an organisation that supports mental wellness through the freedom of driving and the love of cars. He's also the proud father of Freddy, a 2019 Volkswagen Golf GTI .

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