HOT COMPETITION

VW launches its highest spec’ Amarok as the competition lines up with new products for 2015

This year is shaping up to be one of the most highly competitive for the ute market. As previewed in Delivery, the new Nissan Navara, complete with new 2.3-litre twin-turbo engine, is due for release around April. Mitsubishi is also due to launch its new Triton around the same time and Isuzu Ute has already stated it will be releasing uprated special edition versions of its highly popular D-MAX.

Toyota can be expected to be improving the spec’ level of its HiLux, prior to the release of its new version currently slated for next year, and there’s a flurry of activity from Indian manufacturing giants Mahindra and TATA as they gather momentum in the Australian market to hit higher sales targets with the Genio and Xenon.

Chinese manufacturer Foton has the benefit of a decent engine that it sources from Cummins. But the appeal of a red engine from the world renowned US engine maker, regardless of this particular 2.8-litre being manufactured in Beijing, hasn’t proved to be a sufficient drawcard to make it an overnight success.

Perhaps as a result of the atrocious resale values of fellow Chinese automaker Great Wall, buyers are wary of jumping straight into a Chinese-sourced ute. Their appeal could be improved if the importers provided more product support and investment in the brand, but success in that sector doesn’t happen overnight.VW-Amarok_2

The same lacklustre scenario is also repeated through the SsangYong brand. Although the product itself is solid and acceptable from an engineering perspective, an almost complete lack of product support on the part of the importer and the dealer group has left the Actyon languishing in the corner of sales yards rather than achieving any growth in the market.

Ford and Mazda with their sibling rivalry of the Ranger and BT-50 can be expected to revitalise specifications and pricing as each manufacturer fine-tunes their individual competitiveness. These moves follow on from that of Holden with the Colorado, which received slight upgrades at the back end of 2014.

With all the moves expected to occur in the first half of 2015, German giant Volkswagen has jumped straight into the front line of the sales battle with upgrades to its Amarok range and two new variants – the new TDI420 Dual Cab 4×2 Automatic and TDI420 Single Cab 4MOTION Automatic models.

Across this expanded model range the 2015 Amarok line-up boasts enhanced specification that includes new highlight features such as Bi-Xenon headlights with LED daytime driving lights, standard with the Amarok Ultimate specification.

VW has chosen to release the 420 Nm TDI diesel power plant matched to the excellent ZF 8-speed automatic as the powerplant for a 4×2 dual-cab version.

This is a great combination for buyers that want an upmarket spec’ ute for load carrying but do not have the intention of heading off-road. It comes with xcruise control and Bluetooth connectivity, a multifunction steering wheel and a body-coloured bumper as standard.

The same engine and eight-speed automatic transmission is also now available in a single-cab version of the Amarok, but this time around it comes with the Volkswagen 4MOTION permanent four-wheel-drive system and is available in both cab/chassis and ute configuration.

Standard features in the TDI420 Single Cab 4MOTION Automatic include cruise control and Bluetooth connectivity, a multifunction steering wheel and a body-coloured front bumper.

VW-Amarok_3Looking at the rest of the existing Amarok range you’ll find all models benefit from a number of updates in terms of equipment and features.

The 2015 Dual Cab Amarok entry model, now named Amarok “Core Edition”, continues to be available in both TDI400 and TDI420 engine specifications with 4MOTION and with manual or automatic transmissions. The updated Amarok Core Edition models also feature body-coloured bumpers, 16-inch ‘Korama’ alloy wheels and Pirelli Scorpion ATR tyres as standard.

All 2015 Trendline vehicles now include standard front and rear Park Distance Control and 17-inch alloy wheels. Trendline customers also get a choice of three new options: RNS315 satellite navigation, rear-view camera, and lumbar support for the driver and front passenger seats.

Moving through the range, the 2015 Highline specification has also been increased, with standard rear-view camera, Light and Sight (rain sensor wipers and automatic headlamps), and lumbar support for driver and passenger seats. Optional extras on this model include Bi-Xenon headlights.

At the top of the Amarok range for 2015 is the Ultimate version. This really ticks all the boxes for those looking to outdo their neighbour as it includes everything from the other models such as leather interior trim and 19-inch alloy wheels, as additional standard features. Ultimate buyers also gain Bi-Xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights as part of the standard specification.

The Amarok automatic is the current holder of the Delivery Magazine Ute of the Year (2014) and results of the testing for the 2015 award will appear in the June issue. With all the competition hotting up this year, there’s no doubt there will be some interesting developments as we look forward to bringing you the latest news and developments in the light commercial market.

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