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By Charl Bosch

Motoring Journalist

Volkswagen assures next Ford Ranger-based Amarok won’t be a rebadged exercise

"You’ll see are two products with two very specific, very distinct characters".

Volkswagen has shrugged off fears that the next generation Amarok, based on the all-new Ford Ranger, will head the same way as the ill-fated Nissan Navara derived Mercedes-Benz X-Class when it debuts in 2022.

Set to be build alongside the Ranger at the Blue Oval’s Silverton Plant outside Pretoria following the announcement in April that the General Pacheco plant in Argentina will be retooled for production of the Taos SUV, the Amarok will use the same updated T6 platform and possibly Dearborn’s range of engines instead of its own.

Standing next to the prototype hidden underneath a tarpaulin, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles Head of Design, Albert-Johann Kirzinger, in a pre-recorded video, told Australian media that a dedicated team had been send Down Under  “to understand your environment better” in addition to working with Ford for over a year in co-developing the Amarok.

“We know what our Amarok means to our customers and fans in Australia. And that’s the reason why we are really working hard to have a 100 per cent Volkswagen, a true Volkswagen, and not only a rebadged Ford. I want you to rest assured that this Amarok will be a real beast,” caradvice.com.au quoted him saying.

Commenting on the partnership and newcomer further, Volkswagen Australia Managing Director Michael Bartsch told carexpert.com.au that the premise of the project called for the Ranger to be “distinctly Ford” and the Amarok “distinctly Volkswagen” instead of it being simple rebadging exercise.

“There were certainly lessons to be learned from the Mercedes and Nissan Navara experience, and that was used as an example of the importance of making sure that things weren’t just badge-engineered, that they had substance. I’m absolutely confident that what you’ll see are two products with two very specific, very distinct characters. And one will attract the Ford buyer and one will attract the Volkswagen buyer,” Bartsch said.

Despite declining to comment on the mentioned engine conundrum, which, if rumours are to be believed, would see the Amarok drop its V6 diesel for Ford’s 3.0-litre Powerstroke, Bartsch remarked to carsguide.com.au, “we will not make the same mistake Mercedes made with the X-Class and Navara. We made it very clear [to Ford] what the consumer expectation would be. We move forward with full confidence that there will be a Ford product and a Volkswagen product”.

Aside from the above mentioned Powerstroke, which produces 186kW/597Nm in the F-150, the Ranger, known internally as P703, will reportedly get two other engine options; the 2.3 EcoBoost from the North American model paired to an electric motor and the current 2.0-litre bi-turbodiesel four-cylinder. Rumoured for introduction, but still to be confirmed, is the 2.7 EcoBoost V6, while the long serving 2.2 and 3.2-litre oil-burners will be dropped entirely.

While it remains to be seen which of these are carried over into Amarok, which reports have alleged would spawn a Raptor-esque R version, expect possible final details to emerge when the Ranger makes its debut next year.

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