Mercedes-Benz gave it a crack with the X-Class utility.
A re-badged, reskinned version of the Nissan Navara, buyers saw right through the charade.
Now, Volkswagen is heading down the same path with the release of its latest Amarok 4×4 ute — a Ford Ranger under the skin.
Amarok sits on the same platform as Ranger, with the same engines and transmissions.
Designed and conceived in both Germany and Australia, it will be built by Ford at its South African assembly plant in Silverton as part of a 2019 Ford-VW global alliance cooperation agreement.
That’s the plan anyway. Whether it works is once again up to buyers — and they’re a notoriously fickle mob.
The all-new, second-generation Amarok will be offered in five grades — Core, Life, Style, PanAmericana and Aventura — with a choice of 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel, 2.3-litre turbocharged petrol and a 3.0-litre ‘iconic’ V6 diesel — but not the same iconic six as before.
And, drum roll, this time around, some models get low range four-wheel drive which adds a whole new dimension to the proceedings.
Volkswagen credits the design of the vehicle to Gu-Han Kim, Head of VW’s Commercial Vehicles Design Studio in Melbourne, who headed up the project.
But many others had a finger in the pie, including Dennis Kosik (exterior) and Dominik Krug (interior), both working under Kim.
Australia is viewed a major market for Amarok and the Australian connection was seen as essential in the transformation of the Ford.
That’s because utes are big business here these days, now accounting for four of the top 10 selling spots in the country.
Driving sales has been a fierce rivalry between the Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger over the past few years.
It will be interesting to see what impact if any the arrival of the new Amarok has?
At 5350mm the Amarok is 96mm longer than before, with ground clearance of 235mm and a wading depth of 800mm (up 300mm).
The wheelbase has increased by 175mm, creating additional rear legroom, with another 45mm in the back.
The tub is 3.5 per cent larger too.
Compared with the previous model, new Amarok retains a 3.5 tonne tow rating, with combined mass (ute and trailer together) of up to 6400kg –up 400kg.
GVM increases 270kg to 3350kg, with a payload of up to 1065kg — up 32kg for four-cylinder models and 76kg for V6s.
Nine airbags, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist monitoring, driver fatigue warning, adaptive load control, roll over mitigation and emergency call via smartphone in-range connection help ensure a 5 star ANCAP safety rating.
Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles director Ryan Davies said the second-generation Amarok line-up had been honed to complement existing Volkswagen ute strengths with new answers to customer demand.