Volkswagen Commercial still has a little way to go before its Amarok attains the tough image and “street cred” of rivals such as the HiLux, admits its local boss Carlos Santos.
But with its recent success in moving the range ‘downward’ by offering base entrants such as the properly work-focused Volkswagen Amarok Core, the company is gradually gaining traction among some of the market’s toughest buyers.
This year, Volkswagen has a 5 per cent share of the 160,000-strong Australian ute market, and is up in both 4x2 and 4x4 segments. Much of this is down to its new entry level workhorse variants that target the base Japanese entrants, and appeal to tradies rather than weekend warriors - though half of all sales remain the Highline.
“It’s a hard thing to break into, that’s the Aussie ute market,” said Volkswagen Commercials Australia director Santos. “That’s why HiLux has been so successful, they’ve hung their hat on “unbreakable” for so many years.
“We still have to build that street cred and create that toughness image, which I’m not sure we’ve quite got yet, and that’s why I still think theres so much potential… you’ve got to prove yourself.”
Read our feature here, in which we put the Amarok Core to the test along the Old Telegraph Track.
The only thing that will keep the trajectory moving upwards is time — time for buyers to determine if the Volkswagen can go the distance. Having been around since 2011, many are now returning for another crack.
The range will launch overseas around the middle of next year and in Australia in November 2016.
Upgrades for the 2017 Volkswagen Amarok range will include an overhauled cabin that will bring potentially class-leading infotainment, with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto to feature, alongside new trims and — potentially — some active safety equipment.
However, don’t expect too many changes to the 2.0-litre Biturbo-diesel engine under the bonnet, or any great shake-up to the rugged and boxy styling.
As we know, 2015 was the year of the ute. New-generation versions of the Toyota HiLux, Nissan Navara and Mitsubishi Triton arrived, as did upgrades for the Ranger and BT-50. The Amarok, though, is largely unchanged since 2011.