Volkswagen Atlas firms for Australia: Brand “has hand up” for next-gen Mazda CX-9 rival

Volkswagen’s biggest SUV could still get an Australia debut, with the brand confirming it “has its hand up” for a right-hand drive version of the Atlas SUV. 

First unveiled in 2016, and launched in 2017, the seven-seat Atlas seemed a ready fit for Australia – and local executives had shown interest – but the American-built SUV was only offered in left-hand drive. 

But that could change for the second-generation vehicle, with VW in Australia telling CarsGuide it would “love to have the Atlas” sitting atop its growing SUV lineup.

Measuring 5037mm in length, 1768mm in height, and 1979mm in width, the Atlas is 236mm longer than the Touareg. For context, a Mazda CX-9 is 5075mm (h), 1969 (w) and 1747 (h), while the just-confirmed Hyundai Palisade is almost five metres long, two metres wide and 1.75 metres tall.

“We’d love to have Atlas,” says VW Australia’s head of product planning, Jeff Shafer. “It’s not really in a state where we’d expect it in the short term. More likely it’s a discussion for the next generation of that model, given that right hand-drive development is a big engineering expense.

“We’ll keep out hands up for that into the future, but its a longer term discussion with the factory.”

In the States, the Atlas was launched its a choice of a turbocharged 2.0-litre engine good for 175kW, or a 3.6-litre V6 engine that produces 206kW. Both engines are paired with an eight-speed auto, with two- or four-wheel-drive configurations available.

As to exactly when we might see the Atlas, it remains to be seen. With a right-hand-drive version of the current model essentially ruled out, we’ll be waiting until the next-gen car arrives, which is thought to be in 2022 or 2023. 

For now, though, watch this space.