NEW: VOLKSWAGEN ATACAMA

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WORDS DAVE MORLEY

VOLKSWAGEN TASTED SUCCESS IN THE ATACAMA IN THE YEARS THE DAKAR RACE CROSSED ITS DRY PLAINS, CAN IT DO THE SAME WITH THIS AMAROK.

The Atacama Desert is an area of Peru and Chile in South America, reckoned to be the driest non-polar place on Earth. In fact, some weather stations across the 105,000km˛ desert have never recorded rain and experts reckon the whole region did not receive significant rainfall between 1570 and 1971. Now that’s a pretty dry 401-year spell.

So you could imagine a company that manufactures sandpits or beach towels using the name – but maybe not a car-maker. That hasn’t stopped Volkswagen applying Atacama badges to its latest limitededition version of the Amarok, with the Atacama following the Amarok Canyon of 2014 and the Amarok Dark Label of last year.

Based on TDi 400 (manual) or TDi 420 (automatic) specification, the Atacama is priced identically to the Highline model but ups the luxury ante, bringing it closer to Ultimate spec, with some tasty additions. So the Atacama costs $53,990 in manual form and $56,990 with the eight-speed automatic option. But it adds an RNS 3560 head unit for the in-car infotainment system, bi-Xenon headlights, a spray-on trayliner, dark alloy wheels and a rather lush-looking diamondpattern upholstery treatment that wouldn’t look out of place in a Bentley (a brand the VW Group owns) luxo-barge.

While numbers will be limited, VW Australia is not calling the Atacama a limited edition. Rather, the first batch will consist of 500 cars and global demand will determine how many we actually get.

That said; Aussies should have a fair bit of sway when it comes to Atacama supply, as we sit third on the ladder in terms of global Amarok volumes. Brazil and Argentina still soak up more Amaroks than we do, but a podium’s a podium. So snaffling our share of Atacamas shouldn’t be too much of a dry argument.