Robust attack on the HiLux
VW reveals its latest weapon in war on Toyota, writesGRAHAMSMITH
APICKUP will give Volkswagen a vehicle with which to stalk the best-selling Toyota HiLux and ultimately challenge the Japanese company’s mantle as the world’s leading carmaker.
That was the impression Stephan Schaller, global head of VW’s commercial vehicles operations, gave at the international reveal of the Robust concept at the Hanover Truck Show in Germany last week.
The Robust Pickup ventures into an area of the market that has long been the unchallenged domain of the Japanese.
VW has chosen to benchmark its new one-tonne ute on the Toyota HiLux at almost every level, from on and off-road performance, fuel efficiency, specifications and even pricing, which Schaller says will be very competitive with HiLux.
Schaller is also quick to dismiss suggestions the VW pickup will be a premium vehicle aimed at the lifestyle market rather than a workhorse for the broader market.
‘‘It will be a vehicle for lifestyle and for working. If you look at our other commercials, we have always been very good at building vehicles that satisfy both ends of the commercial vehicle market,’’ he says.
The concept pickup shown at Hanover is said by insiders to be close to the real thing, differing only in a couple of minor styling issues from the production version that will be here in 2010.
It was shown at Hanover as a dual-cab ute, but the production version will also be built in singlecab and space-cab versions and as a ute and cab-chassis.
The tough-looking pickup will be based on a new ladder-frame chassis and have coil-spring suspension at the front and leaf springs at the rear.
There’ll be a choice of petrol and diesel engines. The latter is said to be a new range under development.
The Robust will be available in 4x4 (two versions) and 4x2 variants.
An on-highway 4x4 variant will use an on-demand all-wheel-drive system based on a similar system used on VW and Audi SUVs. An off-road variant will employ a more traditional go-anywhere four-wheeldrive system.
Though its good looks should be popular with the lifestyle brigade, the Robust Pickup is a real workhorse. It has a full one-tonne payload and the capacity to accept a pallet between the wheel arches.
The Robust Pickup will make its debut in final production form at the Sao Paolo Motor Show in Brazil late next year, by which time it will have a new name.
Working class: the Robust Pickup is a real workhorse with a full one-tonne payload.