The 2021 Volkswagen Amarok W580 has joined the growing list of top-end utes, as Australians continue to buy record numbers of workhorses turned into show ponies.
Unlike the Ford Ranger Raptor, Toyota HiLux Rugged X, and Nissan Navara Warrior, the VW Amarok W580 has been designed with a focus on on-road performance, although extra ground clearance and Pirelli Scorpion tyres will also boost its off-road ability.
Although it will be built in limited numbers – and each example will be numbered – the VW Amarok W580 will become a permanent addition to the Volkswagen Australia line-up from April 2021.
The W580 was developed by Walkinshaw Automotive Group using the same engineering team responsible for the Holden Special Vehicles GTS-R W1 supercharged sedan – the fastest and most powerful car to be built in Australia – and the HSV Colorado SportsCat ute.
The first 30 customers who order online will receive an all-expenses-paid “money can’t buy” experience which includes all flights, transfers, meals and accommodation to attend a Walkinshaw factory tour and a Walkinshaw Andretti United track day.
Pricing and further details will be released in December, however dealers have been told there will be two models: a W580 priced about $72,000 and a W580S priced about $80,000.
The VW Amarok W580 – based on the Highline model grade – is shipped to Australia in a partially completed form before it is transformed into a W580 on the same assembly line previously used for the HSV Colorado SportsCat.
Walkinshaw’s engineering team developed a unique suspension, wheel and tyre package for improved on-road performance.
Former Holden Special Vehicles designer Julian Quincey introduced a redesign grille and front bumper inserts, and styled unique 20x9 forged alloy wheels, fender flares and bodywork graphics.
Although there is no extra power from the turbo diesel 3.0-litre V6 (200kW/580Nm), a “tuned” twin exhaust kit has been added. And the vehicle retains its 3500kg towing capacity.
The Walkinshaw assembly line is located in Clayton, south-east of Melbourne, not far from where the Volkswagen Beetle was assembled in kit form in the 1950s and 1960s (and which was later HSV’s home until it moved to a new facility in the same suburb in late 2017).
As a nod to the historical association with the manufacturing suburb, the Australian-designed, forged alloy wheels are called “Clayton”.
The Pirelli Scorpion ATR tyres are 275/50/20 (wider than the Highline’s 255/50/20 rubber).
In a statement, the director of Volkswagen commercial vehicles operations in Australia, Ryan Davies, said the W580 Amarok is designed to be the “GT” of double cab utes.
“We have always known what a powerhouse we have in the Amarok, but have always felt the range needed a proper GT-spec model,” said Mr Davies. “As the originators of the performance ute category, we looked no further than Walkinshaw to achieve this.”
Volkswagen says the Amarok W580 took 12 months to develop and included technical support from Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles head office in Hannover, Germany.
In a statement, designer Julian Quincey said: “The Volkswagen product seems to lend itself to a very high performance GT image. You’ve got that terrific V6 diesel engine with class-leading torque; and it really does deserve a performance flagship in the range.”
The VW Amarok W580 has a wider track thanks to a unique offset in the forged alloy wheels (hence the need to fit wider fender flares), and new “twin tube” suspension which, combined with the larger rolling radius of the tyres, has lifted the nose by 40mm to level out the stance.
The 3.0-litre turbo diesel V6 engine (previously used in the Porsche Cayenne, Audi Q7 and Volkswagen Touareg SUVs) was added to the Amarok ute in 2016 as a flagship model, but has since spread to every model in the range.
In Australia the V6 accounts for the overwhelming majority of sales. The 580Nm version of the TDV6 was added in 2018, initially on the most expensive model, but has since trickled down from the Ultimate to the 580S and, from this month, the Highline model grade. Only the Core and Sportline continue with the 550Nm version of the TDV6.
With the most power and torque in its class – and paired to an eight-speed automatic and constant all-wheel-drive – it is one of the quickest utes in its class.
Other 580Nm versions of the VW Amarok we have tested completed the 0 to 100kmh dash in 7.8 seconds, about the same performance as a Ram 1500 V8. Most diesel double cabs take 10 to 12 seconds to reach the speed limit.