So, the next-generation Ford Ranger ute has just been officially teased for the first time, but what’s happening with its Volkswagen Amarok twin? Well, there’s plenty to be excited about on that front, too.
Yep, in case you were unaware, the next-generation Ranger and Amarok are closely related. Of course, the former’s predecessor was co-developed with the previous Mazda BT-50, while the latter’s original model was the result of a rare standalone program.
But now the Ranger and Amarok series have converged, with the resulting next-generation utes sure to shake up the Australian market, in particular. Which brings us to how the Volkswagen will stand out from the Ford crowd. Read on.
When it comes to the platform, there will be next to nothing that separates the Amarok from the Ranger, which goes without saying.
The current Ranger uses Ford’s Australian-developed T6 architecture, a heavily revised version of which will underpin its successor and therefore the next-generation Amarok.
The so-called ‘T6.2’ underpinnings mean both models will use a ladder-frame chassis and be available with rear- and four-wheel-drive systems, a low-range transfer case and a rear differential lock – all necessary ingredients for off-roading prowess.
The second design sketch of the Amarok looks close to production.
Now, styling is where the Amarok will do its best to trick you into thinking it’s not just a Ranger by any other name.
Believe it or not, Volkswagen well and truly beat Ford to the punch when it came to starting a teaser campaign for its next-generation ute, with our first glimpse of the Amarok coming all the way back in March 2020 with the release of a design sketch.
Fast forward to almost exactly a year later and a second design sketch of the Amarok was published, with this particular one looking much more production-ready than the original dual-cab pick-up.
Either way, it’s clear that Volkswagen is trying to distance the Amarok from the Ranger as much as it can, most notably up front, where it appears it will feature a more rugged version of the Touareg large SUV’s fascia.
In March 2021, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles chairman of the management board Carsten Intra declared: “It’s going to be a genuine Volkswagen, too – with clear DNA in both technology and design.”
We’re yet to get a look at the Amarok’s rear end, let alone its interior, but the inference is they will also be clearly differentiated from the Ranger, with the cabin to possibly feature technology that’s unique to Volkswagen – but the shared Ford platform could prevent that.
The next Ford Ranger is expected to be offered with a wide range of engines. (Image credit: William Vicente)
Engines-wise, the Amarok will likely have a lot in common with the Ranger, but that might not be such a bad thing.
After all, the Ranger is expected to be offered with a range of powertrains, including 130kW/420Nm single-turbo and 157kW/500Nm twin-turbo versions of a 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel.
Two V6s are also expected, including a 3.0-litre single-turbo diesel producing about 185kW/600Nm, and a 2.7-litre twin-turbo petrol developing around 230kW/540Nm.
But the big news here for the Ranger – and, therefore, possibly the Amarok – is the eventual addition of a plug-in hybrid that pairs a turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine with at least one electric motor.
Yep, electrification is coming, but that won’t stop many from missing the preceding Amarok’s hard-hitting 200kW/580Nm 3.0-litre single-turbo diesel V6 and well-sorted eight-speed torque-converter automatic.
The current Amarok isn’t available with rear airbags or advanced driver-assist systems.
Again, don’t expect much difference between the Amarok and Ranger here. That said, both models will take a big step up on the safety front – something the former needs a lot more than the latter.
As reported, the current Amarok isn’t available with rear airbags or advanced driver-assist systems, so expect its next-generation model to deliver them.
In fact, for the Amarok and Ranger to be eligible for a coveted five-star ANCAP safety rating under the independent authority’s latest protocol, they would need to have several new features.
The million-dollar question is: how much the next-generation Amarok will cost?
Of course, the million-dollar question is: how much the next-generation Amarok will cost? At this stage, it’s hard to say, but the preceding model is currently priced from $44,590 to $79,990 plus on-road costs in Australia.
That said, the Amarok is currently unavailable with rear-wheel drive, a single-cab body-style or a cab-chassis configuration from factory locally, so there’s a good chance Volkswagen will be able to significantly lower its starting price – even with more standard equipment fitted.
We now know the Ranger will be revealed by the end of 2021, with its Australian launch to take place in 2022, so where does that leave the Amarok?
Well, the Amarok’s big debut is expected to follow in the months afterwards, while its local release has been locked in for 2023, with it all but confirmed to be sourced from Ford’s Silverton factory in South Africa, although its Rayong plant in Thailand is also a possibility.