Volkswagen might make its own Ford Ranger Raptor rival

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Words: Matthew Hansen
5 Mar 2021

The saying goes that every notable new electric car that comes out is inevitably going to be reported as a ‘Tesla killer’, and every second ute manufacturer is developing ‘a Ford Ranger Raptor rival’.

When you produce a product that defines a genre it’s natural that everything gets compared to your achievement, such is the case with the Ranger Raptor. It’s faced off and arguably defeated challenges from Nissan and Toyota in the form of the Navara N-Trek Warrior and Hilux Mako. Now, its next rival could come from ‘within’.

Sort of, anyways.

Ford’s next-generation Ranger will share its bones with Volkswagen’s next-gen Amarok ute. Now, curiously, Volkswagen appears to be weighing up producing a Raptor rival with its current Amarok — like a gravel-bashing swansong before it gets in bed with the blue oval.

The push is seemingly not being led by Volkswagen’s German bigwigs, but instead by the firm’s Australian arm via its relationship with Walkinshaw Performance. Speaking to CarAdvice, Volkswagen Australian commercial vehicles product manager Nick Reid confirmed that talks over the potential of a capable adventure-style ute are in full swing.

“The Amarok is already the benchmark in the segment for (on-road dynamics) so why not take it to another level,” he said.

“It’s a point of difference to the bulk of rivals. We’re zigging when everyone else is zagging. When everyone else is going off-road we’re going to hone our performance on-road.

“I think there’s a place for an off-road version and the off-road market is huge and you can’t ignore that. There is also huge demand among people who want to (modify vehicles) themselves.”

The news comes as the first examples of the Amarok W580 hit showrooms around Australia. The Walkinshaw-fettled model uses an unchanged version of the standard 3.0-litre V6 available in the Amarok’s existing flagships, but adds improved dynamics via new suspension, wheels, and tyres.

That 3.0-litre engine is the curveball that makes the idea of an adventurous Amarok a mouthwatering one. With 190kW and 580Nm it’s the most powerful unit on the market, and more potent on paper than Ford’s 157kW/500Nm bi-turbo 2.0-litre diesel.

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