Family-favoured Highline first for V6

Only the best will do for Amarok customers looking to buy into the new V6 engine.

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ONLY the most powerful version and only in the most expensive variant – that’s the keep-it-simple launch strategy Volkswagen New Zealand has determined for the star performer of the incoming updated Amarok landing in November.

Although the new 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel will also issue in 120kW and 150kW formats, the Auckland distributor has signaled it has eyes only for the peak performing edition, with 165kW and 550Nm.

Likewise, though Germany apparently plans to provide a V6 in every Amarok format, and with the rear-drive and manual four-wheel-drive editions in base and mid-level specification, on debut in New Zealand it will restrict to a Highline doublecab with the eight-speed-automatic and permanent four-wheel-drive – a vehicle that in present 2.0-litre format tops the price list at $65,990.

The V6 will carry a premium over the current flagship, which is to be retained – in fact, the current 132kW/420Nm 2.0-litre will remain as a core choice going forward.

 VW NZ commercial division manager John Frear says it is too soon to say how more customers can expect to pay for a V6 Highline over a 2.0-litre. He is also not prepared to comment on whether the current 2.0-litre pricing will continue into the update vehicle.

“I wouldn’t want to comment on pricing. We’re going through the finalisation of that with the factory and I would anticipate that we won’t release pricing before the second half of the year.

However, he conceded: “If you were comparing like for like, then obviously a V6 Highline will cost more than a four-cylinder Highline.”

Frear has also confirmed that a special edition designed for the launch phase, called the Aventura, will also be offered in the initial release period.

“Supply will be very limited and quite tight on that model.”

However, beyond Aventura there could well be other special editions. “They may not be called Aventura but they might also be of the same theme. We want to keep that interest up.”

Some might wonder why VW NZ is not making more of a power play to elevate Amarok’s status at a time when one-tonners are running hot.

In addition to being the sole V6 in a field otherwise populated by a five-cylinder and a wide choice of four-pots, VW’s unit is also set to be the new leader for power and torque, with 18kW more power and a massive 80Nm more torque than the current king-hitting Ranger/BT-50 five-cylinder.

However, a mass attack might still be on the cards – just not initially.

Frear says there might still be latitude in the long-term to provide the engine in other states of tune, and in other models and perhaps even spreading beyond Highline, to the new Comfortline (the new mid-spec trim) if not the Trendline – which, though presently the md-spec version, is to become the entry designation from year-end.

“I guess how we structure the model lineup, at the time of launch, is not necessarily set in stone forever.

“At the moment we are targeting the V6 at the top end of the lineup … at this stage in New Zealand it will come in Highline only and only with the permanent all-wheel-drive.

“We’ve had to make a call as to what do we think is the best engine mix and variants to run with at launch and, as that evolves, we have the options to look at more variants and more engine configurations.”

The new engine will be in tight supply, at least initially, and he says VW NZ is also being guided by current buying trends.

Premium doublecab auto utes already hold No.1 status among one-tonne format choices, so VW is immediately still well positioned to profit handsomely as the current Highline editions are the best-selling Amarok variants.

Thought that many Highlines are being bought primarily for recreation and weekend warrior pursuit is disputed, however.

“I don’t think it’s fair to say that. I don’t think they are bought for purely personal and recreational use. Yes, clearly we have a strong following from the private buyer, and maybe we’re a bit stronger there, but we also attract buyers in that corporate and Government space as well.”

Frear agrees there is potential that the dealers will have pre-sold many V6s even before the first arrives. He says local market reaction to the engine, which was only confirmed at the start of the week, has been very strong.

“I think we will begin pre-sales well in advance of the first vehicles landing and, given that supply will be tight at the time of launch and for the first few months after that, I would not be surprised if we had a very high percentage of pre-sales.”

Whatever the interest, existing Amarok customers – especially those of long standing association - will have priority for purchase.

“Those people who have stood by us over the past five or six years will have preference first and foremost, regardless of whether they are keen on getting a V6 or one of the other new models.”

Despite the addition of a new engine, VW NZ plans to maintain the same count of Amarok variants it has at present.

“Broadly speaking we have the same number of variants, it’s just the make-up of those that will be a bit different.”