As I was pulling out of a junkyard parking spot last month I caught sight of something unfamiliar out of the corner of my eye that caused me to do a double take. Then I pulled right back into another parking spot in order to get out and take a closer look as I realized it was a VW Amarok, the pickup not sold in the US or Canada.
Of course it was a was a visitor from Mexico, just like the even smaller RAM 700 I saw earlier this year. Mexico gets all kind of stuff that we don’t, largely due to their different regulatory and taxation/tariff climate, but that works the other way too, there’s no perfect solution and the markets have many differences. In any case this is the truck that some people seem to want to see for sale over here but after looking it over quickly I think VW is correct in believing there isn’t likely to be much of a market for it. I’ve bought new VWs and owned several others and generally feel pretty good about them but don’t see a burning need to buy a pickup from them with all of the other currently available choices, not that there looks to be anything wrong with it in general.
While it is a diesel (not really a plus anymore for VW), and this particular one has been “bro-trucked” a bit with the fender flares, side steps, custom wheels and rear-facing LED light bar I’m just not seeing what it would really bring to the table that isn’t already handily covered by Ford, GM, Toyota, and Nissan. GM even offers a diesel in their Canyon/Colorado. Maybe a better set of driving dynamics? But is it really going to feel like a GTI pickup? Doubtful.
VW likely wouldn’t be able to move much volume at all at the price this would need to sell for over here – as opposed to perhaps Mitsubishi if they could bring theirs over or build it on this continent at an attractive price. VW do make the Amarok in both a 4cylinder diesel as well as a V6 diesel, but I am not sure which of those this might be although the black mirrors and door handles seem to indicate a more basic model so likely a 4cylinder. This one was probably produced in Argentina for the Mexican market, apparently some are built in Hannover, Germany, as well for the European market. Johannes Dutch can probably provide more details…
The overall size was pretty close to the Nissan Frontier that was parked nearby, perhaps the VW is a hair larger but not significantly so. I didn’t get close enough to look in the cab as I keep a greater distance than usual in the junkyard parking lots and the windows were heavily tinted anyway. And it’s not uncommon for people to be in the vehicles.
This one’s had a bit of a run-in with…something. Imagine a large chrome VW logo in the grille, a supplemental grille below with a couple of fog lights and you’ve got the general idea here. Not at all bad looking in the normal VW conservative way, it would certainly blend right in. Hopefully the owner isn’t in the junkyard looking for a new bumper for it, he’s not going to find it here.
It’s certainly interesting that VW decided to build it, but why not? There are of course other markets that like pickups as much as we do here (Ok, maybe not quite as much), and the parts of the world that do though generally go for what we call the midsize segment which this fits into perfectly. I hope this one finds its way back home sooner or later, but am glad I got to see it in the metal surrounded by more familiar products, it’s harder to get a good sense of scale when seeing them in other countries.
They’re pretty popular over here in the UK but are easily outsold by the Ford Ranger and Isuzu D-Max. The Aramok is seen more as a lifestyle truck than a work truck and is priced accordingly.
My cousin sent me some photos of one parked in Ouray, CO a few years ago. This one appears to be a bit more tastefully and purposefully modded…
It appears to also have plates from some Mexican state.
Amarok is popular in Germany and Austria, too, mostly in the rural areas.
At the beginning, Amarok was produced exclusively in Argentina for the worldwide market. A small volume production for European market at Werk Hannover was added in 2012 but ended in 2020. Another production site is in Algeria, which continues to build Amarok in small number for northern Africa.
Volkswagen used to produce Taro, a badge-engineered Toyota Hilux (fifth generation), in Hannover for German market from 1989 to 1997. We havent’t forgotten Rabbit Pick-Up (Caddy in Europe and South Africa), do we?
Given your title here of “Little Bro,” the Groot sticker on the rear window is somewhat ironic, since I believe that Groot means Big in both Dutch and Afrikaans. Of course, given that it’s a Mexican vehicle, the sticker undoubtedly has a completely different connotation, but nonetheless, it’s amusing to me.
And really, the Amarok here doesn’t seem too small in these pictures, though the wheel flares probably have something to do with that. And I can’t help thinking that the VW badge alone might make it seem a size smaller (after all, it’s not a brand associated with trucks for many of us) – the same vehicle with a big F250-style Ford badge, I bet it would look bigger.
I agree, though, that there’s undoubtedly no market for another compact pickup in North America. Still, I enjoy seeing these pictures.
The Amarok has something in common with the Honda Ridgeline: both are mid-size pickups in length, but are abnormally wide for their segment, so that they have 4′ between the wheel wells (or 1.2m for a EUR-pallet in the Amarok’s case).
Amarok dont have much of a rep here as usual for VWs since they began overpriced for what you get and expensive to keep, most people who require a working ute buy a Ranger Hilux Isuzu, Mazda Mitsubishi Ssangyong or choose from the cheaper Chinese brands and keep large wads of money in their pockets, the 2IC on the vege fleet I worked at had a cab chassis Amarok and he was trying to swap it for a Hilux with one of the seasonal drivers that didnt work the 16 year old 3.0 TD Hilux was a better vehicle in all respects.
Same here entirely, perhaps minus choice of the Chinese models.
Top ten bakkie sales for August here in South Africa; number 1 is Toyota Hilux 3613 followed by Isuzu D Max 1670, Ford Ranger 1657.. and at number 10 we have VW Amarok at 134 units.. The Amarok is something of a boutique offering here, for the VW faithful. September it didnt make the top 10.
I never will understand VW going to the trouble of engineering and building a pickup, then not selling where the pickup reigns supreme. Even Hyundai is considering a pickup now. I seems like VW has practiced a lot of self-sabotage over the last few years. It’s handsome, and I do think there are enough German car devotees here to make a business case for it, and it would be cross shopped if well built and dependable. I’m afraid they might cut down an Atlas and try to sell that, yuck. I grew up in Chattanooga, and I’m glad that plant is there, but I wouldn’t be shopping that VW Ridgeline.
I remember when the Amarok debuted seeing the commercial that Nissan do Brasil ran as a foil. No mention of VW, but apparently folks there knew who it was aimed for. The later US version of the same idea wasn’t nearly as funny.
Ooo, someone call Jason Shafer – this looks like just his thing now.
That’s an interesting find, Jim. Funny too, it says “groot” on the rear window, Dutch for big, as Eric already mentioned above. These (and all other pickups) are outsold by the Ram 1500 here, so it’s a rare bird in our VAG-oriented-country. Folks simply prefer a Transporter flatbed with dropsides. And if that’s too light, a Crafter flatbed with dropsides.
Here’s our military Amarok:
That livery paintjob looks decidedly American.
Police (photo courtesy of W. Harthoorn):
When I was in Mexico two years ago (Baja North) I saw far more US style pickups, either American branded full-size or mid-size, or Tacoma/Frontier, than Amaroks or global Hiluxes. FYI, GM has dropped the small Duramax diesel in the Canyon/Colorado twins for the US for 2021, and my understanding is that the Mercedes X Class pickup has been discontinued worldwide. I’m not sure the Amarok will last much longer. Still, a good find, as even in California I see few Mexican-plated vehicles and fewer still that are models not sold here.
I’ve read that VW teamed up with Ford for the next gen Amarok, to be introduced in 2022. Ford will develop it, also as their own next Ranger.
The next generation of the Ford Transit Connect will be based on the recently introduced new VW Caddy.
Baja is a free zone so imports of used vehicles from the US are allowed and that’s why you don’t see Mexican market cars there very often. On the mainland the cars are completely different.
As a dealer I hate these things as they haunt you after sale. 3.0 really gives grief, if I trade one it gets wholesaled.
An appalling reflection on VW. My mate in the trade has same attitude.
I think the VW Amorak TDI would go over all here in the USA. Ford, GM and Dodge are easy overpriced and rust out in a few years!!!!! Have owned VW’S all my life and have never had the problems that friends and relatives have had with their vehicles. They are fun to drive, reliable, and economical. And they have that European style to then that sets then apart from the boring look alike models that are here (GM,Ford, they all look alike, boring!!!!!
This has to have been a loss-maker for VW at about 70K sales per year for a unique platform.
Theoretically, they made a decent-enough proposition, bringing VW-style style to interiors, and they get good results for their driving qualities and safety tech in comparison tests here. Aus is the biggest market for them outside of Europe (though Aus is Aus, and not a big market overall, ofcourse). But optioned up a bit, they’re more expensive than the Ranger and Hilux bestsellers, and as noted (in a way) by saabseller just above, too many tradies got badly burnt by reliability that just isn’t close to the Japanese.
Speaking of VW trucks…I just read that Traton (the VAG Group’s heavy truck division) is the new owner of Navistar International. Just rebadge the Amarok and call it a Scout (*duck*).
The only Mexican plated vehicle i’ve seen lately is a basic Hilux, something I wish Toyota would sell here instead of the fleet trim Tacoma, with its wide flared fenders styled for wide alloys and big tires.
Hard to believe and hard to understand but generally it happens to be heard when a man buys a VW Amarok he will not buy anymore a Ford Ranger , neither a Chevy S10 , no matter the prices either the rebate offers , VW pickups holds very well its #2 best selling utility rank only behind the hard to beat #1 Toyota Hilux . This applies of course in Dominicana, Colombia , Peru , Ecuador, Chile , Paraguay , Argentina and Uruguay