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By Charl Bosch

Motoring Journalist

Volkswagen Amarok’s junior brother seemingly happening after all

On hold since debuting as a concept in 2018, the Tarok will reportedly be made in Argentina and could still retain its status as a "world vehicle".

Conflicting reports dating back nearly four years ago about Volkswagen ever approving production of the concept Tarok bakkie have seemingly been resolved with a weekend report from Brazil alleging that the official go-ahead had been given.

Where it started

Seemingly all but certain to now replace the 14-year old Saveiro that received its third restyling two months ago, the Tarok has been shrouded in confusion ever since its world debut at the São Paulo Auto Show in 2018.

ALSO READ: Production Volkswagen Tarok officially no more

Billed as a world vehicle, therefore suitable for both right-and-drive-hand-drive markets, the Tarok not only debuted with all-wheel-drive drive, but also a panoramic roof and an electronic partition behind the rear seats that lowered to accommodate larger cargo items.

Unlike the Saveiro, the Tarok came standard with a six-speed Tiptronic gearbox and, as per the “world vehicle” classification, a choice of two engines; a 110 kW 1.4 TSI capable of running on petrol or ethanol, and a 2.0 TDI also producing 110 kW.

Kept in limbo since

Supposed to have entered production in November 2020, the impact of the pandemic in Brazil effectively brought the project to a halt, with then Volkswagen South America boss, Pablo Di Si saying, “with the pandemic and our cash flow, we will have to re-evaluate all investments, 100% of them. I’m not talking about cancelling [projects], but some will be delayed.

Less than a year later, reports alleged the Tarok had in fact been approved, but only in 2025 with assembly set for Argentina rather than Brazil.

Volkswagen Tarok now seemingly becoming real
Double cab only bodystyle will give Volkswagen a more modern rival to the Chevrolet Montana, Ford Maverick, Fiat Toro and aging Renault Oroch in South America. Image: Volkswagen

Conversely, Volkswagen Passenger Brand CEO Thomas Schäfer, then struck the Tarok off of the production record again by telling Automotive News Europe at the Los Angeles International Auto Show in November last year that “our focus doesn’t include it”.

At the time, it was claimed that the MQB A0-based bakkie would indeed be assembled at the São Bernardo do Campo Plant in Brazil, and had been 80% production ready.

Now known

It’s reveal pushed back from 2020 to 2024 and then 2025, motor1.com Brazil has now reported that the latter year will be that of the Tarok, still based on the MQB platform, and indeed produced alongside the Taos SUV and the previous generation Amarok at the General Pacheco Plant in Argentina.

Volkswagen Tarok now seemingly becoming real
Concept’s interior shows the Tarok’s relation with the Polo. Image: Volkswagen.

Known to have attracted attention from Volkswagen North America, now headed by Di Si, back in 2020, the apparent decision to settle upon General Pacheco represents a u-turn on the comments made by the executive in May last year after a massive $250-million investment into production of the Amarok that won’t be replaced by the new Ford Ranger-based model made exclusively at the Blue Oval’s plant in Silverton outside Pretoria.

“The Tarok compact pickup is a beautiful project, but today it is impossible to make it in Argentina. (Production of it) is humanly and technically impossible,” motor1.com Brazil quoted Di Si as saying.

And South Africa?

Despite neither Volkswagen South America nor Volkswagen Group America having commented on the claims, the supposed production approval is expected to have a knock-on effect on South Africa that had been mulled as possibly producing the Tarok for key markets.

As is well-known, Wolfsburg will supplement existing Polo and Polo Vivo assembly at its Kariega Plant in the Eastern Cape with a third model in 2026.

Volkswagen Tarok now seemingly becoming real
Central partition between the rear seats and loadbin can be lowered to accommodate larger items. Image: Volkswagen

While billed as an SUV-type vehicle, a bakkie has not been ruled-out, however, expectations are that the unnamed, unseen newcomer will be an SUV Volkswagen has confirmed will ride on a revised version of the MQB A0 platform known as the MQB Entry.

For now, both the production Tarok and MQB Entry SUV remain shrouded mystery, though expect clearer details to become apparent in 2024.

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