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2021 Volkswagen Amarok W580 isn't another Ford Ranger Raptor and Toyota HiLux Rugged X rival, it aims for on-road performance

VW put its new Walkinshaw co-developed Amarok W-Series through some tough testing conditions.

Volkswagen’s upcoming high-performance Amarok, the W580, will carve its own road-focussed niche, rather than following the rest of the ute mob which are busy trying to be more hard-core off-road machines, like the Ford Ranger Raptor.

There is obviously demand for such a vehicle as the W580, the product of a VW-Walkinshaw development partnership, because when an online pre-sale for the GT-style ute kicked off at noon on December 3, 2020, the 30 vehicles on offer were sold within five minutes.

The W580 is based on the 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6 580 Highline and, as such, produces 190kW from 3250-4500rpm (200kW on overboost) and 580Nm between 1400-3000rpm, has an eight-speed torque converter automatic transmission, and VW's 4Motion all-wheel-drive system.

It can do the 0-100km/h sprint in a claimed 7.3 seconds.

So, there is no power or torque increase over a standard Highline, and towing capacities remain the same at 750kg (unbraked) and 3500kg (braked).

There will be two variants available - the W580 (with a MSRP of $71,990 before on-road costs) and the W580S ($79,990).

The W580 will have 40mm raised front and rear suspension with multi-tuned valve twin-tube dampers, and be kitted out with 20-inch forged alloy ‘Clayton’ wheels on Pirelli Scorpion ATR tyres (275/50), and styling changes include a new grille and fascia with LED fog lamps, wheelarch extensions, Walkinshaw decals everywhere (bonnet, side, and side of the tub), as well as velour sports seats with Walkinshaw-branded headrests, W580 tailored carpet mats, and numbered plaque.

The W580S gets all of that, as well as a sail-plane styling bar, front under body styling element, five-piece protective tub liner, Vienna leather-appointed upholstery in black and grey, 14-way adjustable Ergo Comfort heated front seats, Discover Media Navigation, LED fog lamps with cornering function, and a tuned twin exhaust with Walkinshaw shield-branded tips.

VW has, for now, seemingly ignored the market’s lucrative trend of car-makers developing utes that are even more off-road effective than they’ve ever been before – or at least the perception of being so – and opting for a ute that performs well on-road.

That’s not to say the W580 sacrifices any of the Amarok’s existing off-road efficacy – VW officials reckon it doesn’t – but the new variant is simply aimed at exhibiting optimum on-road ride and handling, rather than any improvement in off-road capability.

And it’s clear VW has taken real-world testing of their high-performance ute rather seriously, with 15,000km of durability testing alone – think corrugations, big and small, driven in high temps – undertaken over an eight-week period.

VW’s five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty and capped-price service programs apply to the W-Series.

Production is expected to start before the end of March, with vehicles tipped to be in showrooms from April, and VW plans to deliver 1200 units to dealers this year.