Unloved sib­ling


4 x 4 Australia - - Report Card -

MAZDA’S BT-50 is the third ve­hi­cle in the top 10 to suf­fer a sales de­cline in the first half of 2018 com­pared to the same time last year. Mind you, it’s only dropped by 1.3 per cent year-on-year, but, due to bet­ter sales of the oth­ers, the BT-50 now only scrapes into the top 10 by around 150 units in front of VW’S Amarok.

In what has been a boom­ing ute mar­ket over the last decade, BT-50’S sales have re­mained pretty con­stant since it ar­rived in late 2011. In its first full year of sales in 2012, 8279 BT-50 4x4s were sold, while last year 8900 were sold.

It’s hard to be­lieve how poorly the Mazda BT-50 sells in com­par­i­son to the Ford Ranger given they are – in essence – the same ute. More than four Rangers are cur­rently sold for ev­ery one BT-50 and, while the Ranger of­fers some no­table tech­ni­cal ad­van­tages adopted for MY16, the BT-50 is gen­er­ally cheaper. In Mazda’s de­fence, it is prob­a­bly more con­cerned with its small pas­sen­ger cars and SUVS, which are its big sell­ers, where for Ford the Ranger is the main game. Mazda is also well ahead of Ford in over­all new-car sales.

In most ways the BT-50 drives much like the Ranger. For starters its 3.2-litre five-cylin­der en­gine re­tains the same torquey, low-revving, smooth-run­ning and agree­able char­ac­ter, even if it’s not as quiet or as re­spon­sive as the Ranger’s.

The BT-50 also doesn’t have Ranger’s elec­tric power steer­ing that makes for eas­ier low-speed ma­noeu­vring; al­though, oth­ers will ar­gue that Mazda’s old­school hy­draulic sys­tem in its of­fer­ing is po­ten­tially more ro­bust.

Off-road the BT-50 is a good thing; al­though, a notch down from the Ranger due to an­other 2016 up­grade it re­ceived – leav­ing the front trac­tion con­trol ac­tive when the rear locker is en­gaged – which Mazda didn’t adopt.

Oth­er­wise every­thing that is lik­able about the Ranger, such as a spa­cious cabin and ex­cel­lent tow­ing and load­car­ry­ing abil­ity, is es­sen­tially true of the BT-50.

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