Could Audi leverage the Amarok to compete with Mercedes’ pickup?

The race for supremacy in the newly formed midsize luxury pickup segment is getting tense. Mercedes is fully committed to building a midsize pickup for the global market with the potential to become a luxury item for U.S. buyers. Tesla has announced plans to build an all-electric pickup and will come with all the Tesla tech we’ve come to love. GMC debuted the Canyon Denali for the 2017 model year and is the first to arrive in dealerships. Even BMW has hinted to “never say never.” So what other automakers might join the fray?

Audi has weighted glove it could dawn in this fight of the middleweights. It could easily rework the Volkswagen Amarok to become a high-class Audi pickup. Think about it. The concept is solid and the engineering needed would be mostly minimal.

To that end, we created a rendering of what an Audi pickup would look like. The idea is straight forward: take the Amarok pickup, badge engineer it to wear Audi’s latest corporate look, throw in a well-appointed interior, update the powertrain to be U.S. compliant, and boom, an Audi pickup.

Keep in mind, all this is pure speculation on our part. To our knowledge, Audi has neither released a statement nor made any hints to its stance on such a product. Still, that doesn’t make the proposition any less interesting.

Let’s have a look.

Continue reading for the full run-down.

  • 2019 Audi Pickup
  • Year:
    2019
  • Make:
  • Engine:
    V6
  • Transmission:
    Eight-Speed Automatic (Est.)
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    333 (Est.)
  • Torque @ RPM:
    325 (Est.)
  • Displacement:
    3.0 L (Est.)
  • 0-60 time:
    6.0 sec. (Est.)
  • Top Speed:
    145 mph (Est.)
  • Price:
    450000 (Est.)
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Exterior

Volkswagen recently released a moderately updated Amarok pickup for the 2018 model year. It’s this truck on which the Audi version would be based. This makes rendering the Audi version rather simple, since the front clip will constitute most of the changes.

The current Q7 SUV serves as the closest high-riding representative to borrow from

Here, up front, is Audi’s current hexagonal grille and headlight designs. The current Q7 SUV serves as the closest high-riding representative to borrow from. It’s not a carbon cop, however. The Amarok body requires a taller grille and hood than the Q7, so the front area would be slightly larger. Audi would likely keep the Amarok’s impressive approach angle, so a hefty lower air dam would not be present.

Around the sides, the squared-off wheel arches and meaty tires give the Audi a more truckish stance. The same is true for the tall, upright greenhouse. It is doubtful Audi would incorporate the Amarok’s chrome sports bar in the bed, but we left it. These roll bar-like add-ons are becoming popular again after their heyday in the 1980s. Both Chevrolet and GMC are including the option of their midsize trucks.

Around back, expect Audi to keep the bed and step bumper nearly identical to the VW version. We do expect Audi would include some high-end LED taillights to help spice up the design.

Overall, the Audi pickup would closely resemble the VW Amarok, but with plenty of changes and updates to differentiate itself from its overseas counterpart. And speaking of being overseas, most U.S. buyers aren’t likely to know anything about the VW Amarok, allowing Audi a clean slate for its pickup product.

Interior

2017 - 2018 Audi Q7 Interior
- image 585699

Note: Audi Q7 SUV pictured here.

Volkswagen and Audi interiors share many of the same features and intricacies, so perhaps the Audi truck wouldn’t look much different than its Amarok counterpart. We do expect the Audi version to come standard with leather seats, suede accents, real wood or carbon fiber trim pieces, and the latest Audi MMI infotainment system. This would likely include Audi’s Virtual Cockpit, as well. These additions would necessitate small changes to the dashboard and center console’s layout, but nothing too major.

Expect the rear seats to come with a folding center armrest and heated outboard positions. Air vents and HVAC controls will allow rear passengers to stay comfortable.

All told, the Audi pickup’s interior will likely look similar to the Amarok’s, but will offer high-end appointments and the latest Audi in-dash technology. It’s inside the interior that will fully justify (or at least rationalize) this pickup’s premium price.

Drivetrain

2017 - 2018 Audi Q7 Drivetrain
- image 610940

Note: Audi Q7 SUV pictured here.

In its overseas markets, the heavily revised 2017 Amarok comes with an new 3.0-liter TDI V-6 that offers an impressive 221 horsepower and 405 pound-feet of torque. The Audi pickup would never get this engine thanks to VW’s dieselgate scandal, so another powertrain would be needed. That’s where the Q7 comes in again.

The 2017 Q7 is offered in the U.S. with its 3.0-liter TFSI gasoline V-6. This supercharged mill offers a stout 333 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque. It’s mated to VW’s eight-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission and quattro AWD system. We expect Audi to incorporate this technology into the Amarok.

It seems the V-6 gasoline integration into the pickup would be a smooth one.

Sounds expensive right? Well, the transmission and AWD system are likely the same units. What VW calls its 4Motion system, Audi calls its quattro system. It seems the V-6 gasoline integration into the pickup would be a smooth one.

Now the Amarok’s 4Motion system is a bit different than the competition already in the American market. Part-time 4WD systems with two-speed transfer cases are the norm, giving trucks like the GMC Canyon a range between RWD, 4WD, and 4WD low. The 4Motion system currently in the 2017 Amarok is a full-time system with no low range. It does, however, offer an off-road mode, downhill decent control, and a locking rear differential.

Prices

The Audi pickup will obviously carry a premium price over the current crop of midsize pickup offerings in the U.S. It’s starting price will likely land between $48,000 and $50,000. Check several option boxes and the price could shoot into the mid $60,000 range.

Competition

Mercedes Pickup

2018 Mercedes-Benz X-Class Exclusive Renderings
- image 625562

Mercedes is working in conjunction with Nissan to build a new pickup designed for global use. Mercedes brass are still discerning whether the German automaker will release the pickup in the U.S., but we’re strongly leaning to the affirmative.

Though it will be largely based on the Nissan Navara, the Mercedes will come with its own powertrain options. Engineers have plenty of powertrains to choose from, ranging from the 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline turbo to more powerful V-6 engines.

Prices will be competitive within the luxury midsize segment, meaning a starting price around $45,000 wouldn’t be surprising.

Read our full review on the Mercedes Pickup here.

Tesla Pickup

2020 Tesla Pickup Exterior Exclusive Renderings Computer Renderings and Photoshop
- image 682457

Tesla’s “Master Plan, Part Deux” detailed the electric automaker’s goal of producing an electric pickup for the American market. Official details beyond that are closely guarded by the California company, but we suspect the pickup will be based on the Model X and come loaded with all the typical Tesla tech. Expect this truck to be more Honda Ridgeline-like rather than GMC Canyon Denali. Handy details and features will make this the perfect IKEA machine, but it’s not likely fit to be a jobsite workhorse.

It’s electric range will fall between 250 and 300 miles, depending on battery size. AWD will likely come standard. Pricing will likely fall between the Model 3 and Model X, with a starting MSRP around $50,000.

Read our full review on the Tesla Pickup here.

Conclusion

2019 Audi Pickup Exterior Exclusive Renderings Computer Renderings and Photoshop
- image 685909

The idea of Audi entering the premium pickup market here in the U.S. in an interesting one. It would have plenty of competition from the newly established counterparts, while giving premium pickup buyers something to shop beside full-size pickups with $65,000 luxury packages.

Much of this rides on whether Mercedes decides to bring its GLT to the U.S. Should Merc not move forward, the expansion of the premium midsize pickup segment would likely halt. Sure Tesla will likely debut its pickup, but it would probably be seen as a unicorn standing in segment by itself. Here’s to hoping Mercedes takes the challenge.

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    • * Completely unconfirmed
    • * Expensive
    • * Would Audi really dive into the pickup segment?
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