Volkswagen’s Fortuner rival that never was: Amarok SUV design proposal revealed

Although Volkswagen has repeatedly stated that an Amarok-based SUV was not in the pipeline, we now know that it was at least under consideration.

The rendering you see here was posted on LinkedIn this week by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles (VWCV) design head Albert Kirzinger, but his wording seems to imply that it’s more a “could have been” than a preview of what’s to come.

This is what he had to say about the rendering:

“Exploring design ideas for the Amarok pickup truck! Our research phase back in the day took us on an off-road journey, and here’s a sneak peek with a rendering featuring a fully closed pickup bed. Ready for rugged adventures!”

Although he appears to be describing a bakkie with a fixed canopy, the picture shows a purpose-designed SUV with a shorter wheelbase, along the lines of a Toyota Fortuner or the Ford Everest that it would logically have been twinned with, although it doesn’t appear to share body panels with the latter.

When a Linkedin contact asked if this was a hint that an Everest sibling was on the way, Kirzinger simply stated “sorry – but no further hint.”

When the current Amarok was revealed, VW’s commercial division told Australian media that an Amarok SUV was unlikely.

But then in late 2022, VWCV product planner Waldemar Bauf revealed to that a decision on such a project would be made in the coming year, but that if it happened it would almost certainly be an electric vehicle.

“If you ask me, if I bring [an electric Amarok], then I will bring both [an electric Amarok ute and wagon],” Bauf told Drive.

Although it’s tempting to look at the above design rendering and assume we’re seeing a straightforward Toyota Fortuner rival, it’s possible that Volkswagen could have been considering something a bit different.

Could it have been a five-seater with a more rugged and bakkie-like load bay behind?

While the body-on-frame SUVs in this category try to distance themselves from their bakkie siblings in both name and in their more car-like designs and seven-seat configurations, Kirzinger’s proposal retains the Amarok name, although its front end is a little different.

But ultimately it’s not trying to hide its bakkie origins.

However, if it were to reach production, such a VW SUV would likely share more content, and body panels perhaps, with the Ford Everest in order to save cost.

Although South Africa is currently the only country producing the Amarok bakkie, an SUV version would likely be built in Thailand as the Everest is no longer produced in SA.

But will such a project ever get off the ground? It’s interesting that this early design proposal is being publicised now. But only time will tell.

IOL Motoring

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