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Volkswagen Atlas inches closer to Australian release

By Tony O’Kane, 30 Jan 2017 Car News

Volkswagen Atlas

With RHD production barriers falling, Volkswagen’s gargantuan Atlas SUV could be a starter for the Australian market, provided the business case makes sense.

Volkswagen’s super-sized SUV, the Volkswagen Atlas, is being examined with keen interest by the German automaker’s local operation. Thanks to recent comments by Volkswagen’s US chief opening the door to RHD export, we may yet see the previously American-market-only three-row wagon on our shores.

If the local business case stacks up, VW’s Australian customers could soon find themselves able to choose from not just one, but two seven-seat SUVs. The Tiguan Allspace (a stretched seven-seat version of the Tiguan) is already set to arrive here in early 2018, but the significantly larger Atlas would offer a proper full-sized rival to the Mazda CX-9 and Toyota Kluger in the increasingly-important large SUV segment.

Volkswagen Atlas R-Line

“[Atlas] is something that we’re definitely exploring for Australia,” Volkswagen Australia head of product planning Jeff Shafer told WhichCar.

“It hasn’t been an option for us to date. But Atlas is a very large car, and I can understand where it would fit into the Volkswagen range for this market.

“It’s a significantly large car even beyond what we’re expecting for the Tiguan Allspace next year in terms of third-row dimensions and cargo dimensions.”

Volkswagen Atlas R-Line

Measuring a huge 5036mm long, 1978mm wide and sitting astride a 2978mm wheelbase, the Atlas occupies a footprint that’s fractionally bigger than the Mazda CX-9 and easily eclipses a Toyota Kluger for size.

And with a generous interior offering plenty of space for seven people, the Atlas wouldn’t step on the toes of the existing five-seat-only Touareg large SUV. Its more road-biased, Passat-based platform would also set the Atlas apart from the Touareg, which is pitched as a semi-premium off-road machine rather than a school-run wagon.

An all-new Touareg is expected to make its debut later this year.

Volkswagen Atlas R-Line

However, as handy as the Atlas would be for Volkswagen’s local car dealers, the business case has still yet to be made for a local introduction.

“We’d want to make sure the vehicle meets the expectations of our customers in regard to technology, safety, powertrains before we commit to introducing the car,” Shafer said, ”but it’s something I approach with an open mind.”

“We’ll have a seven-seater finally with the [Tiguan] Allspace.

“Two seven-seaters [Atlas and Tiguan] would work if they were appropriately priced and specced. Separating the two would largely be a communication and pricing discussion.”