With car-based utes having literally disappeared from the Australian landscape, Aussies’ love for the 4X4 is as hot as it has been for years.
And with the collaboration of Walkinshaw Automotive Group, former parent company of Holden Special Vehicles (HSV), this new Volkswagen Amarok W580 is about to wow Aussies even more than its beloved counterparts.
Check out this in-depth review from Car Sales.
The new Volkswagen Amarok is only just around the corner, but before its introduction, Volkswagen Australia is ready to send off the outgoing version with a bang. This is the new Volkswagen Amarok W580. It’s a brand new collaboration between Volkswagen Australia and the legendary tuner Walkinshaw. This is described as a GT utility, so I wanna find out exactly what that means.
Coming from the same engineering and design specialist that delivered the now discontinued HSV Colorado SportsCat and the legendary HSV GTSR W1, the new Volkswagen Amarok W580 built on the garden variety Amarok TDI580 Highline using components from local and international suppliers.
Walkinshaw worked with VW in Australia and Hanover throughout the W580’s development. Unlike the Ford Ranger Raptor or even the Nissan Navara N-Trek Warrior, the W580 chases on-road performance over off-road capability. The W580 commands a $10,000 premium over its donor car while the sportier W580S tested here, lands at a hefty $80,000 before on-road costs. Changes to the W580 over the donor vehicle include new shock absorbers at all four corners, a wider track, these flared guards, alloy wheels with these Pirelli Scorpion ATR tyres, a new front-end design and a front suspension lift.
Over and above the W580, the S adds a sailplane rear, side exhaust outlets, a Vienna leather upholstery with 14-way front adjustment and seat warmers and other visual cues. Powering both models is a 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel, which is unchanged from the garden variety Amarok TDI580. It’s matched standard with an eight-speed automatic transmission and a 4×4 system with a torsen differential. Brake towing capacity remains at three-and-a-half tonnes as does a familiar 500 millimetre water-wading depth.
Now, if you’re being cynical, you could easily write off the W580 and W580S as a simple sticker pack. But as we’ve seen the equipment list here is extensive, and more than that, it had to go through a thorough development and testing process, around 20,000 kilometres logged here in Australia, and even more than that, the entire process had to be signed off by Volkswagen’s officials in Hanover, Germany. Volkswagen says its focus was on producing the most dynamic dual-cab, one-tonne ute in the segment. As such, the W580 keeps the original front and rear springs, but replaces the mono-tube dampers with a twin-tube damper setup. The wider track and new Pirelli Scorpion ATR tires are also key. There’s certainly more of a sporting premise to the W580 than its donor vehicle. That means a little bit more prominent jiggling through the car over minor bumps, but equally a truck that sits flatter through the corners and feels more confident through changes in direction.
Ultimately, the W580 doesn’t feel like a sports truck, and it probably doesn’t need to either. You still have to retain all of its payload, its three-and-a-half tonne towing capacity, and the fact that it is a work vehicle, but one that can tackle roads a little more confidently than before. Although the W580’s diesel engine is carry-over, the truth is it has never really wanted for more power.
An official 7.3-second, nought-to-100 time and peak torque materialising from 1400 RPM means the Amarok rarely struggles in shifting its 2200 kilogram heft. The diesel engine here as ever is the highlight of the Amarok experience. It’s a real peach, 200 kilowatts, 580 Newton-meters, all channelled to the ground via a really clean-shifting, eight-speed automatic. There’s a little bit of lurch and hesitation upon initial take off, but beyond that, power is linear, accessible and really clean for a diesel as well. There’s a surprising amount of punch on offer here as well. It’s a great reminder that the Amarok is still relevant even though it is now nearing 11 years of age.
In terms of criticisms, for me, the steering rack probably isn’t as fast as you’d really demand for a ute that does boast a broader performance envelope than the regular dual-cab crop. It also lacks the weighting and feeling that you’d really ask for if you do choose to throw the W580 and W580S at a series of corners. While performance is a little bit better, we’re talking about marginal turns here, definitely doesn’t re-write the dual-cab ute formula, but it is a nice balance between performance and comfort. There’s also some key issues that carry over from the Amarok donor car, which is increasingly showing its age ahead of the second-generation model’s arrival. The infotainment and dashboard presentation feels a bit behind, safety is limited with no rear curtain air bags, and a very basic suite of modern driver aids. There are no rear air vents and leg room is down against key rivals.
Equally though, the Amarok is still the only regular dual cab that can squeeze a full-size pallet between its wheel arches and somehow it and the Ranger Raptor are the only offerings to get rear disc brakes in place of drums. Elsewhere, the W580 comes with Volkswagen’s five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty and capped-price servicing. There’s no doubting the W580 does broaden the performance envelope of the Amarok dual-cab ute. It looks great, and we know that the V6 diesel engine is a peach as well. The question here is whether you’d pay $80,000 for the privilege. I tend to think the Ford Range Raptor is a better execution of a high-end dual-cab ute, and it has more off-road capability at the same money. But even more than that, there’s a brand new Amarok on its way in 12 months time.
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