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Volkswagen sets its sights on Ford Ranger Raptor with proper off-road Amarok 580 in the works with Walkinshaw

Walkinshaw set to send off current-generation Amarok with a Raptor rival.

At the launch of Volkswagen’s Amarok W580, a new collaboration with local tuning outfit Walkinshaw, the brand alluded to further projects in the works, including an off-road version of the current ute.

Volkswagen’s commercial division representatives said the two brands were already in talks for what’s next, and the brand is keen for “something with a bit more of an off-road focus”. The project is said to be “locked in in the next few weeks” as time is running out before the current-generation Amarok reaches the end of production.

If the just-launched W580 is anything to go by, we can expect a totally revised suspension tune, wider wheelarches, and a bespoke wheel and tyre combination. As the Amarok is already the leading vehicle in the turbo-diesel ute power front (190kW/580Nm), the decision was made by both brands not to complicate the project by tuning the engine. Priority was also given to maintaining the Amarok’s 3500kg towing capacity.

The Amarok will also keep its permanent 4Motion all-wheel-drive system and locking rear differential, instead of the more widely accepted mechanical and manually selectable mechanical low-range transmission.

The more road-focused W580 wears a before on-road cost of $71,990 for the base-spec car, or $79,990 for the halo W580S specification. We wouldn’t be surprised to see a more off-road focused variant have a price to the high-end of this, or perhaps even higher.

Aside from the fast-selling Raptor ($77,690), off-road oriented rivals in the space include the Mazda BT-50 Thunder ($68,990) Toyota HiLux Rugged X ($64,490), and the soon-to-be-replaced Nissan Navara N-Trek Warrior ($65,990).

Volkswagen and Walkinshaw confirmed that over the course of the W580 project there is capacity to build several thousand units by its end date of “late next year” but the brand is even discussing the possibility of a Walkinshaw collaboration on the next-generation ute (which will share a platform with the next Ranger), or even on other VW commercial products.

The next-generation Amarok, due as far out as 2023, is not only being developed with “Australia as a priority” but also with a local engineering team, which the brand said was eye opening for its engineers to see how utes were used in Australia compared to Europe.