Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles Australia will again turn to local engineering partner, Walkinshaw Group, to develop more capable and tougher-looking derivatives of its still-unrevealed next-generation Amarok dual-cab ute.
With global development partner Ford (the new Amarok is based on the new Ranger) topping off its range with the global Ranger Raptor, it’s imperative that Volkswagen Australia has a similar halo Amarok offering to lure adventure seekers.
Since Australia will be the world’s biggest market for the new Amarok, any more hardcore or sporty vehicle project is arguably best done in this country – in such a way, from VW’s perspective, as to tempt people away from the well-resourced aftermarket.
It also helps the project that Volkswagen will not have access to a version of the Ranger Raptor, with its new twin-turbo petrol V6 engine.
Volkswagen Australia set the template by working with Melbourne-based Walkinshaw group on its W-Series Amaroks, with about 2600 of the WQ580, W580S, and W580X models set to be put together in the southeastern suburbs across the project’s life.
Much like the sell-out-success Nissan Navara Warrior finished locally by Melbourne’s Premcar engineering, the Amarok W-Series utes are factory-backed, and developed and tested as a single cohesive package to a claimed OEM standard.
Based on the diesel V6, they add features from new seats and stickers all the way through to uprated suspension, body protection, rock rails, wheel and tyres, and lighting; are sold in Volkswagen dealers; and keep the normal factory warranty.
“We’re already having conversations with them… we’re definitely investigating a new-generation Walkinshaw replacement [Amarok], we’d be mad not to,” Volkswagen Commercial Australia director Ryan Davies told CarExpert at the W580X launch this week.
“This relationship has been hugely successful, they’re a great partner to deal with, there’s a lot of mutual respect, and I think we can definitely make something the market wants with the new-generation. Partnering with them would help us achieve that.”
The first Walkinshaw Amaroks didn’t appear until 2021, a decade or so into the model’s long life cycle. But Mr Davies said that this time, the new-generation Walkinshaw-tuned Amaroks would appear earlier in the piece – albeit not right away.
“These things take time, we definitely wouldn’t be looking at 2023, probably late 2024 would be the earliest we could consider having something like that in market,” he said.
The second-generation Amarok will make its world debut on July 7 this year, with Australian pricing to be announced soon after. Dealers say they are already taking informal orders before the vehicle has even been revealed in full. Australia deliveries should commence in early 2023.
Walkinshaw Group has diversified greatly since the demise of new hotted-up Holdens, doubling down on its successful racing teams, working with OEMs such as Volkswagen and LDV on pickup tunes, and developing a round-the-clock production line for conversions of Ram trucks, and Chevrolet Silverados and Camaros, to right-hand drive with factory support.
Australia’s peculiar desire for expensive, modified Ranger- and HiLux-sized utes and its respected aftermarket players such as ARB, have led to a burgeoning set of OEM-backed ute modifications engineered here, to be sold at scale.
As well as the Navara Warrior and Amarok W-Series, there’s the Melbourne-modified Toyota HiLux Rogue and Rugged X, the similarly locally-led Mazda BT-50 Thunder, and, while the Ranger Raptor is factory-built in Thailand, it was largely engineered in Australia for the globe.