VW’s class king 190kW Amarok will likely land in September – and while the grunt is increased, the price might not rise commensurately.
A MORE powerful version of the V6 already now favoured by seven in every 10 Amarok buyers will achieve at least half of future six-cylinder volume, despite being restricted to just one model here.
That comment comes from Kevin Richards, head of VW commercial vehicles in New Zealand, in the wake of overnight confirmation out of Germany that the upgraded version of the model’s 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 diesel engine, pumping out 190kW of power and 580Nm of torque, is in production.
It’s an easy prediction, he acknowledges, given the undeniable popularity of diesel muscle utes here and the fact that the current Amarok Aventura doublecab is already the king-hitter and will stay that way with the new powertrain.
The new mill is expected to be available in New Zealand around September-October and will insert purely into the Aventura here, Richards says.
This update is also an overthrow; it means the Aventura will divest the 165kW (with 180kW on overboost)/550Nm version it presently runs, though this engine will continue in other types, Richards says.
He intends an announcement in respect to how the revised range will look to be made in a couple of weeks.
Even though the 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine that Amarok started out with in 2010 now captures minority interest, there seems to be no intention to divest the entry unit in the two to three years’ before VW is expected to launch an all-new replacement ute.
However, while the four-pot continues to present as a pathfinder for the downsizing trend that other makers are now taking, Richards agrees it’s the ever-increasing enthusiasm Kiwis have for powerful traydecks, mainly as recreational status symbols, that has reinvigorated the Amarok’s standing in utedom.
“The small capacity engine has taken time to get visibility but now other brands, not necessarily German ones, are also involving in developing downsized engines that offer similar improvement on torque, emissions and economy.
“But certainly the V6 aspect, in terms of performance within the segment, is touching the Kiwi psyche. Our sales volumes with the four always tended to be hindered by a mentality of it not being ‘big’ or ‘grunty’ enough … the V6 obviously takes care of that.
“This (new engine) is the next rung up. If you need to prove something to your mates or be the guy with the biggest, baddest ute then, you know, this is it.”
At the same token, the VW way is to let the engine, rather than the styling, do the talking. So, no chance of body kits or, perhaps, even a Raptor-style lift and suspension retune.
“We’re not interested in being too overtly pushy or showy – we’re a bit more conservative in that sense. However, the power message is difficult to ignore.”
First adopters to the new powerbroker engine will have to be quick, as just 50-100 units are expected to land before Christmas, though volume will step up in 2019.
Pricing is set to be announced in a few weeks, however Richards enforces that in discussions with head office his operation is pushing hard to keep the 190kW model in the same ballpark as the current edition, which retails for $85,990.
That tag makes Aventura the most expensive recreational one-tonner on the market, yet it’s a status likely to be handed over to the Mercedes Benz X350d, the topline V6 diesel version of the new X-Class whose New Zealand launch occurs tomorrow, albeit with just the four-cylinder versions expected to be seen.
Richards says the timing of VW’s announcement and the local Mercedes activity is purely co-incidental.
“The timing of our comment was tied to the global news getting out last night; we wanted our message to tie in with that. The X-Class aspect is a nice bonus, I guess.”
The X350d, whose arrival is potentially set to time with the updated Aventura’s, produces the same peak power as the VW rival but has 30Nm less torque.
The only other current contender in this price zone at the moment is the $84,990 Ford Ranger Raptor, which arrives later this year with a 2.0-litre twin turbo four-cylinder diesel making 157kW/500Nm.
The incoming Aventura has the same full-time 4Motion all-wheel-drive system and eight-speed automatic transmission with torque convertor as the current version.
Performance figures are yet to be released, but an improvement over the current edition’s 0-100kmh acceleration time of 7.9 seconds is considered a near certainty.
Unlike the Euro5-compliant TDI550, the TDI580’s tweaked powertrain meets stricter Euro6 standards, meaning improved fuel efficiency and reduced carbon dioxide emissions are also likely.