WOLFSBURG, GERMANY – The second-generation Volkswagen Amarok will adopt a bold new look and grow to a length of 210.6 ins. (5,349 mm) in double-cab guise, an exclusive behind-the-scenes visit by WardsAuto to the German automaker’s headquarters reveals.
The fresh look and larger dimensions are, however, just a sliver of the full scope of modifications and under-the-metal changes made to the ’22 model, seen here in prototype form ahead of a planned unveiling in June.
Set for sale in African, Asian, Australian, European, Middle Eastern and South American markets, the Amarok has been developed in a so-called “Global Alliance” between VW’s Commercial Vehicles division and Ford. Its chassis, suspension, drivetrains and gearboxes as well as key elements of its body, interior, electrical architecture and digital functions are shared with the fourth-generation Ford Ranger introduced in 2021.
Both are based on the same T6 ladder frame chassis – a box-section steel structure conceived by Ford but modified with input from VW, according to Lars Krause, VW Commercial Vehicles board member responsible for marketing.
“The Amarok is a much better pickup than if Volkswagen did it alone,” he says. “The same goes for Ford. Without our input, the Ranger wouldn’t be so good. The partnership has allowed us to pool our individual strengths.”
With more than 830,000 Amarok sales to date, Krause says VW is expecting big things from the new model.
VW isn’t discussing possible sales in North America. However, a trademark filing for the Amarok name was made in the U.S. in 2018.
To avoid the 25% tariff that applies to imported trucks, it would need to be manufactured in a North American factory. With the new Ranger set to be produced at Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant, this is a distinct possibility given the other markets initially will receive the Amarok from a Ford factory in South Africa.
As with the first-generation model introduced in 2010, the new Amarok will be offered in both 2-door single- and 4-door double-cab bodystyles.
The bolder styling gives the small pickup a more confident look than before. Drawing on the look previewed by the Atlas Tanoak concept ute revealed at the 2018 New York auto show, it was designed in a studio established at Ford Australia’s headquarters in Broadmeadows, Victoria.
It builds on the design lineage of the first-generation Amarok (pictured, below), adopting a more boldly styled front end with a higher leading edge and a more prominent grille.
Despite sharing structural hardpoints with the Ranger, the new Amarok receives its own uniquely styled hood, LED headlamps (optional with Volkswagen’s IQ Light functionality and matrix properties), front wings and outer door skins.
Common exterior elements include the windshield, roof, side windows, rear window, mirrors and door handles – the latter shared with the Ford F-150.
The cargo bed is dimensioned to allow a euro pallet to be loaded sideways and strapped in place using lashing rings integrated into the bed. An electric roller shutter will be offered as an option.
Along the sides are more pronounced rear wheel arches than seen previously. There are new LED taillamps and a new-look tailgate features the Amarok name stamped into the metal. Wheels extend from a standard 17 ins. up to 21 ins. in diameter.
Along with a 3.8-in. (97-mm) increase in length at 210.6 ins. (5,349 mm), the height of the new Amarok has been extended 0.1 in. (2.5 mm) to 74.0 ins. (1,880 mm) in double-cab form. Width decreases 1.3 ins. (33 mm) to 75.2 ins. (1,910 mm).
It also receives a 4.9-in. (125-mm) longer wheelbase than previously at 126.8 ins. (3,221 mm) in double-cab body style. This change provides for shorter overhangs both front and rear, and with them claimed improvements in approach and departure angles.
The engine line-up mirrors that of the Ranger. Included are four turbocharged diesels in both 2.0L 4-cyl. and 3.0L V-6 forms, ranging in power from 168 hp to 237 hp. A turbocharged 2.3L 4-cyl. gasoline unit produces 298-hp.
Buyers will get to choose between standard rear-wheel drive and two different all-wheel-drive systems depending on the engine, the automaker says.
VW says the Amarok’s payload has increased to 2,645 lbs. (1,200 kg). A towing capacity of up to 7,716 lbs. (3,500 kg) is now achieved across a wider range of models, while the roof loading capacity is increased to a maximum 772 lbs. (350 kg). The fording depth also has been improved in line with that of the Ford.
Although the Ranger will be sold with the option of a gasoline-electric plug-in hybrid drivetrain, it is not planned to be offered with the Amarok. However, VW is conducting engineering studies into providing the VW pickup with an electric drivetrain.
The interior is similar in architecture to that of the Ford, but it receives typical VW touches, including its own multifunction steering wheel, uniquely cushioned seats, controls and trims.
The digital display graphics for the instruments (standard at 8 ins. [20 cm]) and infotainment system (standard at 10.1 ins. [26 cm) and optional at 12.0 ins. [30 cm]) are unique to the Amarok but feature the Ford-developed SYNC4 operating system used by the Ranger.
The 2023-model-year Amarok receives up to 30 driver-assistance systems, over 20 of which are claimed to be all-new. Over-the-air functionality will allow software upgrades of various systems.
The new Amarok is underpinned by a suspension with double wishbones at the front and a beam axle with leaf springs at the rear – essentially the same setup used by the Ranger. As on the old Amarok, the rear dampers are mounted outboard.
Initial production will take place alongside the Ranger at Ford’s Silverton plant in Pretoria, South Africa. The first-generation Amarok, meanwhile, will continue to be produced at VW’s plant in General Pacheco, Argentina, for sale in selected South American markets.