South Africa’s New Bakkie Twins Continue a Good Old Congenital Habit
There’s no denying that the bakkie market is a frighteningly incestuous place. Just a few years ago, Ford had married Mazda to spawn the Ranger and BT-50 twins. Mitsubishi was coupled at the tote with Fiat and Nissan, Mercedes and Renault were all in bed together. Toyota remained fiercely independent and Mitsubishi and Isuzu went it alone and Volkswagen was a bachelor too.
The Jolly Old Incestuous Bakkie World
Roll the calendar forward to right here, right now and all is very different. The Mercedes died and so did the Fiat. Mitsubishi has just jumped into bed with Nissan and we wait with bated breath for that spawn soon. That after Ford and Mazda divorced and Mazda ran off with Isuzu. And now the world waits with bated breath. To witness the lovechild twins Ford and is new mistress, Volkswagen are about to unleash upon us.
Regular readers will be up to speed with the new Ford Ranger, but what of its new stepsister? Well, let us tell you. Volkswagen’s bigger and better South African built second-generation Amarok will get a bold new look and new names. And Ford guts when it goes on sale early next year. Based on the new Ford Ranger and built at Ford’s Silverton, Pretoria factory, the new VW Amarok is the product of that new Volkswagen-Ford alliance on commercial and electric vehicles.
In other words, the all new Volkswagen Amarok is basically a new Ranger. It will share the same Ford chassis, suspension, drivetrains and gearboxes. As well as key elements of the body, cabin, electrionic and digital functions. The Amarok and Ranger are both based on Ford’s heavily revised previous generation Ranger box-section ladder frame steel structure, but modified with input from Volkswagen.
A Stong Ford-Volkwagen Alliance
“The Amarok is a much better bakkie than if Volkswagen did it alone,” Volkswagen Commercial marketing suit Lars Krause suggests. “The same goes for the Ford. “Without our input, the new Ranger wouldn’t be as good as it is. “Our new partnership has allowed us to pool our individual strengths, so beyond the business side of things, the product has also benefited greatly.”
“The success of the Amarok and its continued competitiveness has shown we did it right the first time around. “It is still the benchmark in many areas, and of course, the new partnership with Ford has brought new challenges. “But, together, it has also allowed us to create an even better bakkie.”
The new Amarok is confirmed for Europe in both single and double-cab body styles. It is likely to return to a full range in SA after several years as a double cab only. There also remains the possibility of a cab and a half. Amarok will come with many options aimed to allow prospective buyers to tailor their bakkie to their individual needs. Designed by a 10-man Volkswagen team working out of Ford’s Melbourne, Australian design centre new Amarok will look confident than before.
NEW Amarok Will Look Bolder, More Distinctive
Expect that camouflage to yield a bolder styled, more distinctive front end with a higher leading edge and a more prominent grille for greater visual presence, as our blue render suggests. “We have significantly modified Amarok’s design,” VW commercial design boss Albert Kirzinger promises. “It is now much more expressive.”
Despite sharing the new Ford Ranger’s structure, the new VW Amarok will get its own bodywork including a uniquely-styled bonnet, LED headlamps with Volkswagen’s optional IQ and matrix light functionality, unique front fenders and outer door skins. Wheel arches are also more pronounced than before, there are new LED tail lamps and a new look tailgate with Amarok stamped into the metal.
Wheel options will spread from standard 17-inches up to a 21-inches. Amarok shares its windscreen and glasshouse, roof, mirrors and F-150 derived door handles with the Ranger. An electric roller shutter will be an option. 96 mm longer at 5.35 metres, Amarok is 2 mm taller at 1.88 m, but 34 mm narrower at 1.91 m wide. It rides on a 125 mm longer 3.22 m Ford Ranger wheelbase.
New AmaRok Will Be Better Off Road Too
It rides on a 50 mm longer wheelbase and 50 mm wider track than the old Ranger. By comparison, the 5.33 m Toyota Hilux is 1855 mm wide, 1815 mm tall and rides on a 3085 mm wheelbase. Shorter overhangs front and rear will improve approach and departure angles and off-road ability, while fording depth matches the Ranger’s 800 mm. There’s also more space in the engine bay for the new V6 engine and pepare the Ranger and the Amarok for future propulsion technologies.
VW Amarok will still house a European pallet loaded strapped sideways in its now broader Ranger bay using integrated lashing rings. That after Ford widened the new Ranger’s load bay to accommodate that critical Amarok selling point. Amarok will come in four Volkswagen styling lines: two rugged off-road Life and Style. And two premium street-oriented Panamericana and Aventura packages.
VW has not gone so far as to explain its Amarok engine line-up, suffice to mention that it will include four Ford derived turbodiesels and a petrol lump. Take it with salt that those will be the existing 132 kW 420 Nm 2 litre single and 150 kW 500 Nm biturbo diesels. Biggest news is that 3-litre turbodiesel V6. No further data is available yet, but the 3-litre Powerstroke V6 similar to Land Rover’s turbodiesel bent six produces 186 kW and 600 Nm in the Ford F150. Tantalising.
Powerful New Amarok Engines Suit SA Owners
Engineer Krause suggests that the more powerful engines are highly suited to the typical South African bakkie buyer. Local models may well include older Ford units including a possible workhorse. A rear-wheel drive model and two different four-wheel drive systems are confirmed for Europe. Like the new Ranger, the Amarok’s four-wheel-drive systems will be a traditional transfer case 4×4, or a permanent all-wheel drive set-up, depending engine choice.
New Ranger’s durable petrol and diesel powertrains will lokely also turn Ford’s 10-speed transmission in Amarok. Ranger’s double-wishbone front and solid axle leaf spring rear suspension, now with previous Amarok-like outboard mounted shock absorbers to librate space and cause a more car-like ride than competitors. “The fact that Ford used the Amarok as a benchmark for the Ranger shows just how competitive it is, even at the end of its model cycle,” engineer Krause smiled.
Amarok however benefits a unique steering tune versus the Ranger, while payload is up to a class-lading 1.2 tonnes on certain models with the Ranger’s top of category 3.5 tonne towing capacity achieved across a wider range of models. Amarok’s roof loading capacity is also increased to 350kg
Much of New Amarok is Shard With Ranger
Much of Amarok’s cabin architecture is also shared with the new Ford Ranger, which stretched wheelbase also improves rear seat space. Amarok however gets several Volkswagen novelties including VW’s own multi-function steering wheel, uniquely cushioned seats, switch controls and trims. Top models will get artificial leather upholstery for the dashboard, door cards and and optional 10-way adjustable seats, Harmon Kardon sound system and ambient lighting too
Ford derived 8-inch digital instrumentation and 10.1 or 12-inch infotainment screens get unique Volkswagen graphics. But they will run on Ford’s Sync 4 operating system. Amarok’s Ford sensor-key gets a VW redesigned outer shell. The bakkie also benefits remote over-the-air software upgrades of various systems. The new Amarok will also boast up to 30 driver-assistance systems. Of which more than 20 will be unique to the Volkswagen
Production of the 2023 Volkswagen Amarok is due to start later this year in Ford’s Silverton manufacturing plant in Pretoria, with South African sales expected early in the New Year. The original Amarok will meanwhile continue as is out of Volkswagen’s Pacheco, Argentina plant for sale in South American markets.