New car report; A howling success.
The people at Volkswagen are understandably in an upbeat mood at present, with global sales for the first ten months of 2010 being the highest in Volkswagen's history, and New Zealand's volume being up 24% over 2009.
Springing something of a surprise on attendees at a media launch for their new Touareg earlier this week, Volkswagen's New Zealand distributor, European Motor Distributors rolled out their soon to be released Amarok to be included as part of the drive programme.
Taking its name from the giant wolf in Inuit mythology, Volkswagen is aiming squarely between the eyes of Japanese competitors Toyota, Nissan and the like, with the introduction of their new Ute.
Throughout Volkswagen’s long history, there have been a few pickup trucks in the line-up but they have been either Transporter based or passenger car based. This is the first time for Volkswagen to offer a dedicated pickup truck built on a ladder frame chassis in a similar vein to Japanese Utes which have proven to be so polular in our part of the world.
Volkswagen NZ General Manager Dean Sheed says the Amarok will triple Volkswagen’s Commercial Vehicle sales in New Zealand, which is currently running at around 300 units per year. And already, he has taken deposits from 130 prospective Amarok owners for forward-ordered vehicles, despite delivery being delayed until February 2011 due to overwhelming international demand.
Double Cab manual for now; Single Cab and auto to follow.
According to Volkswagen NZ’s Commercial Vehicle Manager Grant Doull, the Amarok has a wider tray than most Utes, being designed to carry a 1,200mm wide sheet of ply or other building material between the wheel arches.
At launch, we will see four different models in New Zealand and two engine options. There will be two levels of 4WD, a Commercial grade and a Highline model which Doull describes as the model likely to attract buyers looking for a dual purpose work and lifestyle vehicle. Both will be Double Cabs.
Built in Volkswagen's Pacheco plant in Argentina, the Amerok is powered by engines derived from current T5 Transporter range, with some re-mapping carried out to suit the requirements of a pick-up truck.
Volkswagen AmarokAll 4WD models are fitted with a 2.0 litre 120kW TDI Twin Turbo diesel engine producing 400Nm of torque, while 2WD versions have the option of a Single Turbo 90kW, 340Nm powerlant in the entry level model and the 120Kw, 400Nm unit in the Highline.
At launch date, a six speed manual gearbox is the only transmission on offer, but automatics will follow later in 2011, although Volkswagen NZ execs wouldn’t be drawn on which transmission it is likely to be. Single Cab models will also be available towards the end of 2011.
Entry level Amarok Double Cab utes will have driver and passenger airbags, 16 inch steel wheels, rubber floor coverings, climate air conditioning, electric and heated mirrors and mudflaps front and rear.
Highline versions will add side/thorax combined airbags, carpet floor coverings, an upgraded audio system, leather steering wheel, Isofix child seat anchors, cruise control, front fog lights, 17 inch alloys, additional chrome accents and a chrome rear bumper. Both models get Electronic Stability Control.
With the exception of a small amount of gravel surface running, our drive programme was limited to an on-road tarmac drive, however the ride quality impressed and the 400Nm of torque proved more than adequate.
Whether it was the extra weight in the Highline model or the wheel and tyre combination, we found the entry level model to be the more lively performer, but neither model disappointed. The level of cabin finish and the quality of materials is up to Volkswagen's usual high standard.
Depending on model derivative, all are rated at around the 1 tonne payload mark and all have a towing capacity of 2,800kg. Off road stability is said to be class-leading with a 49 degree tipping point.
Priced to compete with Hilux.
Double Cab Amarok pricing starts at $43,000 for 340Nm 2WD, $49,500 for 2WD Highline, $56,800 for the 4WD Highline and $62,000 for the range-topping 4WD Highline, pricing which in most cases is within a few hundred dollars of Toyota’s Hilux.
Entering new market territory, Volkswagen New Zealand personnel have been busying themselves sourcing traditional Ute Volkswagen Amarokaccessories such as tray liners, sport bars, canopies, tow hitches and tonneau covers etc, ensuring all options will be available by the time customer vehicles arrive in February.
And in order to cater for the servicing requirements of more rural buyers, Volkswagen is extending its service dealer network in New Zealand, with the expectation that the Amarok will be seen in paddocks from Cape Reinga to the Bluff.