BT-50 keeps strong Mazda char­ac­ter

Broome Advertiser - - Motoring - Derek Og­den

We might have seen the last of the Mazda BT-50 as we know it be­cause Mazda is about to get to­gether with Isuzu to pro­duce its next-gen­er­a­tion pick-up trucks.

Isuzu al­ready makes Mazda trucks for the Ja­panese mar­ket, now it is go­ing world­wide.

The cur­rent BT-50 shares many com­po­nents with the Ford Ranger and much of the de­sign was car­ried out by Aus­tralians.

Af­ter the BT-50 was launched in 2011, Mazda went down a new track, cre­at­ing a util­ity with the per­son­al­ity of a pas­sen­ger car — well, sort of.

The lat­est model ar­rived fea­tur­ing a re­freshed front and rear end de­sign, a new in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem, re­verse camera and fur­ther in­clu­sions to at­tract buy­ers.

There are now 23 BT-50 vari­ants, in­clud­ing 10 with 4x2 and 13 with 4x4 ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

There are two diesel en­gine types, the MZ-CD 2.2-litre 4-cylin­der and a MZ-CD 3.2-litre 5-cylin­der, and a choice of ei­ther a six-speed man­ual or six-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion.

The test ve­hi­cle was a Mazda BT-50 XTR 3.2-litre 4x4 au­to­matic Freestyle Cab, which sells for $49,675, plus on-road costs.

Hook­ing in to Mazda’s Zoom-Zoom DNA, both front and back of the BT-50 have come un­der the stylists’ pens with a straighter ra­di­a­tor grille, re­design of the front and rear lights and mod­ern new 17-inch al­loy wheels on the XTR.

The BT-50 XTR mod­els also come with tubu­lar side steps, auto dim­ming mir­rors, rain-sensing wipers and auto on/off head­lamps.

Out back, side walls and tail­gate of the cargo box have dou­ble-wall cross-sec­tions and con­toured outer panels, cre­at­ing a strong, chis­elled look with­out com­pro­mis­ing cargo ca­pac­ity.

The Freestyle Cab, which is Mazda-speak for crew cab, is ba­si­cally a two-seater with room in the back only for in­ci­den­tal pas­sen­gers.

Two rear seats are more like a shelf with thin cush­ions and backs at right an­gles, push­ing the oc­cu­pants into an abrupt up­right po­si­tion.

Any more space back there would have meant los­ing cargo ca­pac­ity in the tray.

For­ward-hinged front doors and rear-hinged rear ac­cess panels leave a 1408 mm wide open­ing that al­lows peo­ple to get in and out of the front and rear seats eas­ily.

The rear ac­cess panels open to about 90 de­grees, mak­ing it easy to lift cargo in and out of the rear seat­ing area.

A new in­fo­tain­ment dis­play makes its de­but on Mazda BT-50.

The 7.8-inch high-def­i­ni­tion screen gives ac­cess to satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion. HEMA maps are also avail­able as a fac­tory op­tion.

There are Blue­tooth and iPod con­nec­tions.

How­ever, the an­gle of the screen makes it al­most im­pos­si­ble to read when bright ex­ter­nal light re­flects off the sur­face.

The re­verse-camera view is pro­jected on to the left side of the rear-view mir­ror above the wind­screen. It can be dif­fi­cult to dis­tin­guish in cer­tain light con­di­tions.

On the bright side, the driver’s side of the in­stru­ment panel is cen­tred on a com­pact me­ter hood and is deeply con­toured. No prob­lems read­ing the info here.

The 3.2-litre diesel en­gine has an in-line five-cylin­der con­fig­u­ra­tion, it has four valves per cylin­der, an inter-cooled tur­bocharger, and com­mon-rail direct in­jec­tion.

It pro­duces max­i­mum power of 147kW at 3000 rpm and peak torque of 470Nm be­tween 1750 and 2500 rpm.

The six-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion has ra­tios with a wide spread.

Mazda BT-50 has much of the ac­tive safety tech­nol­ogy com­monly used in ve­hi­cles these days, such as dy­namic sta­bil­ity con­trol and ABS anti-lock braking with elec­tronic brake-force dis­tri­bu­tion; it also in­cludes trailer sway con­trol func­tion and roll sta­bil­ity con­trol.

Pas­sive-safety fea­tures a strong body and frame re­in­force­ment, fol­low­ing com­pre­hen­sive im­pact anal­y­sis; front, side, and cur­tain airbags; and all-round three-point seat­belts with pre-ten­sion­ers and load lim­iters for the front.

We got rea­son­ably low fuel con­sump­tion of about 9.2 litres/100km on a mix of town and coun­try driv­ing.

This lat­est Mazda makeover has re­duced noise and vi­bra­tion for a more com­fort­able, qui­eter at­mos­phere in the cabin.

The lad­der frame of the pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion BT-50 has been car­ried over, with in­creased rigid­ity mak­ing for bet­ter ride com­fort.

Pictures: Mar­que Mo­tor­ing

The Mazda BT-50 is fresh-faced and ready for work or play.

The po­si­tion­ing of equip­ment up front can make it hard to read at times.

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