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VW’s future Amarok – the Tonoak

Tonoak double-cab is VW's bakkie future

We’re barely a quarter through 2018 and the outrageous bakkie awesomeness just keeps coming. This time it’s a showstopper at the New York auto show, from VW, which could hopefully influence a future Amarok, called Tonoak.

Beleaguered in the U.S after its diesel scandal, VW’s keen to show Americans that it understands their market better than most, hence this new Atlas Tonoak double-cab. With America being the world’s most important bakkie market, it’s hardly surprising that VW would reveal its future double-cab design philosophy at the New York show, but the resonance of this design study could be global.

Dimensionally larger than Amarok at 5.4m bumper-to-bumper and 2m across, Tonoak it 146mm longer and 56mm wider than VW’s current double-cab. The stance is also that of a true off-road capable double-cab with Tonoak featuring 240mm of ground clearance.

The American market bias is most evident in the choice of engine, VW’s 3.6-litre naturally-aspirated petrol good for 206kW and 360Nm – but we’re sure the Amarok V6 TDi would work a treat in it too. Drivetrain is similar to Amarok, with 4Motion all-wheel drive and ZF’s 8-speed automatic transmission, but unlike Amarok, this VW double-cab does feature low-range gearing for extreme gradient capability and rolls 20-inch wheels shod with 275/55 tyres for optimal traction and floatation off-road.

Its cabin is an expression of futurism, unlike any other bakkie you could imagine, with comprehensive TFT instrumentation, and a stack of touchscreens for infotainment and HVAC functionality. VW’s designers have retained a few analogue touch controls, but bakkie traditionalists will initially be at a loss at the level of futuristic ergonomics inside Tonoak.

It certainly looks terrific and although VW is adamant there is no immediately production schedule, Tonoak serves as clear indication that bakkies are very much projects of urgency for manufacturers who have traditionally shunned the loadbed market segment. The fact that Tonoak features a unibody contruction, based on the VW group’s MQB platform, instead of the traditional ladder-frame construction, indicates an interesting more toward SUV-engineering techniques being applied to future VW bakkies.

Some of the R&D concepts revealed with this double-cab design could possibly serve as clues to how the true second-generation Amarok will shape. With American bakkie customers showing an interest in smaller ‘trucks’, a lot of possible leverage has been created for markets such as South Africa to gain from renewed focus on ‘moderately’ sized bakkies.

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