By on November 7, 2018

Image: VW

A new Volkswagen pickup for Brazil? Yawn. As much as small, cheap pickups turns this writer’s crank, the image that came to mind upon hearing news of this week’s São Paulo unveiling was a weird amalgam of the late Ford Courier and VW Fox.

Then I looked at pictures of the VW Tarok concept, which is said to almost exactly mirror the production vehicle bound for that market. My, my — what a fetching little truck. Sporting pretty much the exact same wheelbase of the Atlas and bearing a bed that extends in both directions, the MQB-platform vehicle is a versatile and stylish little unibody runabout.

Isn’t this pretty much what Hyundai has in mind for North America, assuming it pulls the trigger on the Santa Cruz?

Image: VW

Hyundai’s waffled on that decision since early 2015, and, while initial R&D work is ongoing, it’s still not certain that we’ll ever see it come to fruition. The earliest we’d see production start on the Santa Cruz — described as a four-seat unibody pickup with an extendable bed, positioned below today’s midsize offerings — is in two years.

The Santa Cruz is a ghost, but the Tarok is real. With Hyundai unable to provide us with any images of their vision, we’re left with the Tarok to gaze upon, wondering whether there’s room in the North American market for a vehicle of this size and layout.

Being of Latin American intent, the Tarok makes do with a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder plucked directly from the Jetta. The 150 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque on tap (a six-speed automatic is standard, as is all-wheel drive) is hardly Ford Raptor territory, though VW plans to outfit the production model with a 2.0-liter turbodiesel. Other markets, should VW choose to venture there, could see different powerplants. Perhaps the Atlas’ base turbo 2.0L gas engine would be of use. Still, that’s only a hypothetical for now. Latin America is the model’s home, and VW plans to gauge interest before deciding whether to expand the Tarok’s availability to other regions.

Image: VW

One thing’s for sure — you’ll never see it here. The automaker confirmed to Motor Authority that the Tarok will never be sold in the U.S., even if its reach expands. That means if Hyundai ever comes to a decision on its Santa Cruz, it will have the niche to itself.

Let’s take a closer look at the Tarok. While the VW Tanoak concept revealed in New York this spring boasts greater distance its wheels hubs than the Atlas, the Tarok’s underpinnings are essentially unchanged from the three-row crossover. Despite the car-based architecture, both trucks boast a ground clearance of just shy of 10 inches. The smaller Tarok’s bed measures a scant 3.96 feet; good for cordwood, but not for lumber. However, a full-width folding partition allows owners to repurpose cabin space once they’ve folded down (or removed) the rear seats.

Image: VW

Image: VW


Give those rear seats a flip, open the partition, and objects 6.11 feet in length can lie flat in the bed, tailgate up. Lower the gate, and there’s 8.36 feet of bed length. Remove the rear seats, the total bed length expands to 9.1 feet, though you’d certainly want a bed extender to keep items from turning into road debris. Careful of the rear glass when you’re shoving rebar and God knows what else back there.

Besides the versatility, the Tarok looks good in spite its blunt profile. The high character line reduces bloat, and the dark-colored A- and B-pillars allow the rakish, metallic finish baskethandle C-pillar to literally and figuratively shine. It’s enough to make you think about just much truck you really need to own. I have to wonder if it’s making Hyundai think, too.

[Images: Volkswagen Group]

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11 Comments on “Volkswagen’s Tarok Pickup Should Give Hyundai Food for Thought...”

  • avatar
    Stanley Steamer

    If Leer makes a cap that fits, I’m all in.

  • avatar

    A more practical Subaru Baja or a less capable Chevy Avalanche.

    Take your pick.

  • avatar

    Take one Jetta. Remove trunk lid. Done.

    Sorry, I think crew cab is the the wrong answer here, with that tiny bed. Give me a 2-door regular cab with a 6′ bed in about the same footprint.

    • 0 avatar

      Seems like an Avalanche-style mid gate, as this vehicle has, would serve both purposes. Although you can’t fill the entire bed (including the interior portions) with topsoil or something, it would allow you to haul long items when not using the rear seat for passengers.

      A lot of people use a 4 door truck for daily driving, and that often means using it to haul more than two people at times.

      There is a reason that “lifestyle” trucks have dropped the single cab option. Few people are interested in such a body style anymore. Trucks more often used as work trucks still offer it (the full size American trucks, and recently, Nissan Titan as they try to appeal more to the work truck market).

      • 0 avatar

        Have to agree with John. I always thought the Baja’s biggest flaw was an Avalanche midgate. The Avalanche sold pretty well in it’s time but with Crew cab pickups became common on every street corner it became a bit unnecessary.

      • 0 avatar

        Not Avalanche style – this is more Subaru Baja or Hummer H2 style.

        The Avalanche enabled you to remove the window also, or leave the window in place and just drop the Midgate. This enables you to carry much larger cargo if you need to, or have a truck bed height 8’+ bed that is close to waterproof.

        This version only has a “portal” for a lack of a better work, like the Baja and the H2 had.

    • 0 avatar

      A Caddy for the 21st Century…not that I think a small regular cab truck would have a snowball’s chance here in America these days, but I’d consider it, given what I truly need a truck to do for me.

  • avatar

    This kind of macho surf-mobile is just one cable TV action-drama series away from being a smash hit among the 60-something singles to complement their Corvette.

  • avatar

    If VW’s new trucklet were used to haul a load of
    Brazilian Bocon Toadfish, then it would be a Pacamao Tarok.

  • avatar

    Pretty soon VW will have this Turok thing plus a rebadged Ford Ranger to play with.

  • avatar

    “does the Tarok or the Santa Cruz concept appeal to you in any meaningful way?”

    No. But I’m not the target market.

    This strikes me as more of an effort to create world cars that can use a few US sales to amortize their costs. The primary markets are probably Asia for Hyundai and Latin America for VW; since they want to sell in those markets, they may as well include us.

    It seems that more and more decisions are being made based upon global tastes, rather than regional demand. Hence, a US-oriented Mustang being adjusted so that it can also serve a few Europeans, while Americans get Ecosports that weren’t really envisioned with the US being the primary market.

    In the past, the major automakers avoided this sort of thing before because it wasn’t usually possible to use the same car to please everyone. But they seem to be having a change of heart.

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