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If you know your utes, you’ll know the new-generation Ford Ranger and second-gen VW Amarok are going to share plenty of stuff. They won’t, however, share flagship models, with the Blue Oval ute scoring the Raptor treatment, and VW going without.
But don't bet on VW leaving Ford and its warmed-up Ranger Raptor alone to hog the super-ute spotlight, as Volkswagen Commercial vehicles Australia director, Ryan Davies, said the idea of a speedy version of the new Amarok isn’t something that’s new to the German company.
So, will there be a new high-grade model to tackle the 2023 Ford Ranger Raptor? It’s likely. Very likely. But not with a petrol engine like the twin-turbo V6 in the new Raptor. Instead, you can expect a diesel V6 powerhouse from VW.
“We hadn’t thought of that!” laughed Mr Davies at the suggestion of a Raptor rival. However, he made it clear that Ford’s move to offer its flagship ute with petrol-power only could alienate some buyers, as diesel is the in-demand fuel type in the ute market.
“In that, there is an opportunity for us to do something that will meet the market of the Australian buyer,” he said of a diesel V6 Raptor rival, stating that the market share for Amarok is currently 85 per cent for the V6 and 15 per cent for the four-cylinder.
However, what is currently still unclear is whether Volkswagen slots in its own oil-burning V6 engine, or simply makes use of the engine available in higher grades of the new-gen Ranger and Everest.
For reference, the current VW-built Amarok V6 makes use of a 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6 that punches out as much as 190kW/580Nm, while the incoming Ford ute and SUV siblings can be optioned with an identically sized engine delivering 184kW/600Nm.
As a reminder, the 2022 Ford Ranger Raptor is powered by a 3.0-litre twin-turbo-petrol V6 with 292kW/583Nm on tap, and is only able to tow up to 2.5 tonnes, whereas diesel V6-equipped models are rated to tow up to 3.5 tonnes.
VW then, is likely to offer up this Ford-sourced diesel engine in higher grades of the Amarok and could use it as a basis to build their Ranger Raptor rival, which would give the two flagship utes enough differentiation and target constrasting customers.
Mr Davies also made it clear that Australia has a fair bit of pulling power in the negotiations for what the next-gen Amarok will look like, being that Australia is the biggest-selling market for the ute globally.
He also said that the partnership with Ford is something that won’t be hidden, but that VW will forge its own path in both style and substance, not to mention powertrains in some instances, too.
“Of course the partnership with Ford will be something we talk about. Ford has already talked about it in the press already, but if you’re going to partner with someone, it’s always good to take two of the best cars in the market and put them together,” he said.
“There’ll be a lot of the same underpinnings, but a lot of the DNA will still be Volkswagen. The styling, the design - it’s Volkswagen to the core. The interior will be appreciated for what Volkswagens are usually appreciated for, especially the quality. It’ll be different [inside].”
Could it be, then, that the VW version might follow an inhouse recipe, as has the current model based on the tie-up with Walkinshaw Automotive? The W580 and soon-to-launch farewell to the first-gen Amarok, the off-road focused W580X, could offer an interesting alternative to consider for the German brand.
“It’s too early to announce [anything relating to a second-gen Amarok partnership with Walkinshaw],” said Mr Davies.
“We’re still in the throes of finding out what it might look like in the new generation model, and we haven’t come to any conclusion on that yet. But given the runaway success of the current one, it’s definitely an option that we’re seriously considering and we want to explore to continue to give us a unique edge in the ute market.”