2023 Volkswagen Amarok unveiled: HiLux rival has more powerful engine and new tech

The previous model was one of the best to drive, but lagged behind in terms of technology and safety. The new version is a big step forward.

Volkswagen has finally unveiled its long-awaited second generation Amarok ute ahead of its local launch early next year.

The new Amarok shares its footing with Australian design and design. Ford Ranger which goes on sale next month but will not have Ford’s powerful 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 petrol engine that makes 292kW and 583Nm.

It will likely offer four engines, three diesels and a petrol. The petrol version is a 222kW 2.3-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine, while at the top of the range is a 184kW 600Nm 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine. That’s slightly less power but more torque than the current 190kW/580Nm V6 engine, which accounts for 90 percent of local sales.

The entry-level 2.0-liter turbodiesel will deliver 125kW, and a 2.0-liter twin-turbo-four (154kW and 500Nm) from the current Ranger will also be offered.

The Amarok was designed and engineered alongside the Ford Ranger in Victoria and for the past three years German designers and stylists have been working at Ford’s design and engineering headquarters in Melbourne.

Ford and the Volkswagen teams were intentionally separated to maximize the difference between the two models.

The new Amarok is 96mm longer than the outgoing model, and the distance between the front and rear wheels has increased by 173mm. This will make the rear passenger compartment more spacious – the previous one was a little cramped.

The Amarok will have a payload of 1.16 tons and can tow up to 3,500 kg. It can accommodate a pallet between the wheel arches, and the fording depth is from 500mm to 800mm.

The roof is designed for a load of 350 kg for setting up a tent, while it will be possible to install a hard top over the tray, turning it into a van.

At this stage, there will be no dedicated passenger station wagon based on the Ford Everest.

It will be available in five models: Amarok, Life, Style, off-road-focused PanAmericana and bituminous Aventura.

Buyers will be able to choose between rear-wheel drive and permanent or plug-in all-wheel drive. Drivers of all-wheel drive models can choose from several off-road driving modes, and the intelligent permanent all-wheel drive system adapts to the prevailing conditions.

The new Amarok will be a huge departure from the current model, which has lagged behind the competition in recent years.

The Amarok has always been one of the best cars to drive, but inside the cabin was dated and safety was second-rate. In particular, the lack of rear airbags limited its appeal to families.

The new model will feature Ford’s digital driver display, a large, tablet-style center touchscreen, and a high-quality audio system. But it will also have physical buttons and knobs for the main controls, which are easier to operate when moving over uneven surfaces. Audio system designed by Harman Kardon.

Albert-Johann Kirzinger, head of design at Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, says the new Amarok has “pure Volkswagen DNA, both inside and out.”

The German brand says the Amarok will have 20 new driver assistance features. These will likely include automatic emergency braking, lane keeping and blind spot assist, radar cruise control and rear cross traffic alert.

The poop will also have rear tray lighting as well as area lighting that illuminates the area around the poop for nighttime operation.

The folding tailgate can be raised and lowered with one hand and also doubles as a workbench with built-in clamps to secure materials to the workbench.

Local leadership is interested in continuing cooperation with Walkinshaw Automotive, which currently has 25 employees and manufactures the W580 Amarok special models at its Clayton plant. Over 1,000 W580s have been sold.

The W580 models have a number of styling, suspension and equipment upgrades, all modified by the firm that used to make hot Holden Commodores.

Ryan Davies, Australian brand director for Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, confirmed that the company is looking to expand the partnership, which has proven “incredibly successful”.

“We need to have a competitive edge with what we have with the new Amarok and partnering with Walkinshaw or someone like that will give us something unique. We are certainly looking at his successor.”

However, the Walkinshaw model will most likely appear later in the model cycle.

The Amarok is vital to the success of the Volkswagen brand in Australia, which is being seriously hampered by a lack of inventory. Sales dropped by more than a third this year.

The Ute is the best-selling vehicle in the Volkswagen lineup, accounting for one in five sales. Australia is the number one market in the world for the Amarok V6.

The new Amarok will be built in South Africa, which means supplies are unlikely to be limited by the same factors as the European plants.

The Ranger platform has been designed for future hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric versions, and Volkswagen is likely to embrace whatever technology is available.

Deliveries of the new Amarok are scheduled for early next year, giving the Ford Ranger a six-month head start.

Originally published as Volkswagen Amarok unveiled: HiLux competitor has a powerful engine and new technologies