VW shows the Amarok-based body-on-frame SUV it never built

Volkswagen is turning International Harvester’s long-dormant Scout nameplate into a standalone brand to build body-on-frame off-roaders, but it’s not the first time the company has experimented with the idea of developing a rugged SUV. It launched a Jeep CJ-like model called Iltis (Type 183 internally) in 1978, and it released a sketch of a big, Amarok truck-based family hauler that never left its design department.

Albert Kirzinger, the head of design for Volkswagen’s Commercial Vehicles division, published the sketch on his LinkedIn page. He explained that the research phase took his team “on an off-road journey” and that the SUV was one of the ideas that emerged from it. Tall and decked out with off-roading equipment, including a roof rack and a snorkel-type air intake system, the model almost reminds us of a Nissan Xterra.

It doesn’t sound like the off-roader made it off the drawing board, so technical details likely weren’t finalized. It’s based on the Amarok, a pickup sold in a number of global markets but that has never been available in the United States, yet it shares no styling cues with the first- or second-generation versions of the truck. It gets a tall front end with “AMAROK” on the hood, thin LED lights, and a grille with honeycomb-shaped inserts. There’s a step in the belt line that seemingly integrates the rear door handles and marker lights on the wheel arches.

On our shores, this could have been Volkswagen’s answer to the Toyota 4Runner, though we’re guessing the off-roader wouldn’t have ended up in American showrooms had it received the proverbial green light for production. Globally, it would have competed directly against the Ford Everest (a Ranger-based SUV sold in several overseas markets, including Australia), the Hilux-based Toyota Fortuner, and the D-Max-based Isuzu MU-X, among other models. It would be a very cool addition to the Volkswagen range, but nothing suggests it’s happening.

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