Tow test

Mazda BT-50 XT-R ute

Farms & Farm Machinery - - Contents - Con­tin­ued on page 36

The town of Boort in re­gional Vic­to­ria would have to be one of the few places in Aus­tralia where you can wake to the sound of gun­fire and not think that you are about to be the vic­tim of a home in­va­sion.

How­ever, my sleep-ad­dled and rather dis­ori­ented brain didn’t re­ally com­pute this as I in­stinc­tively dived to the floor and rolled un­der the bed.

It took a cou­ple of sec­onds for my senses to catch up with the fact that I was rolling around in the dust bun­nies for no real rea­son as what sounded like an ar­tillery bar­rage rat­tled the win­dows of my ho­tel room.

Clearly I’m hero ma­te­rial.

It was, of course, ac­tu­ally the start of duck hunt­ing sea­son. Once I re­alised this I man­aged to ex­tract my­self from what turned out to be an alarm­ingly nar­row space un­der the bed.

The dust bun­nies, how­ever, per­sisted, cling­ing to my ex­posed skin, and a glance in the mir­ror re­vealed a vis­age not un­like that of a Wookie with mange.

With the adren­a­line from my rude awak­en­ing now fad­ing, it was clearly time to hit the shower.

In the past I’ve de­voted quite a few un­kind words to de­scrib­ing the styling of the Mazda BT-50. I’ve even in­di­cated it’s some­thing of a value propo­si­tion for those who don’t re­ally care what their ute looks like. A purely func­tion-over-form de­ci­sion.

Well, dur­ing the pre­vi­ous evening, the guys out­side the Rail­way Ho­tel in Boort seemed to dis­agree. In fact, a cou­ple even used bad words in my direction. In the face of such ve­he­ment op­po­si­tion I have to ad­mit that I was forced to see the Mazda ute in a dif­fer­ent light.

(This new ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the BT-50 may or may not have had some­thing to do with the pro­lif­er­a­tion of firearms within the town lim­its.) NOT TOO SHABBY Sure, the BT-50 isn’t new. This cur­rent gen­er­a­tion shares its plat­form with the Ford Ranger, which must smart a bit for the Zoom-Zoom com­pany.

For over three decades, Ford was de­pen­dent on Mazda for its com­mer­cial ve­hi­cle plat­forms. The one time that Mazda uses the Ford plat­form it’s left look­ing dowdy, while the Ranger looks set to dom­i­nate the ute mar­ket lo­cally.

This par­tic­u­lar BT-50 XT-R, I have to ad­mit, doesn’t look half bad. The ad­di­tion of the blacked-out bar, light-force driv­ing lights and the blacked-out fake bead­lock 17-inch rims does give this Mazda a tougher, more pur­pose­ful look.

Early bar work for the BT-50 tended to make it look like it was wear­ing grandma’s glasses. ON THE ROAD

I’d stopped overnight in Boort on the road to Quam­bat­ook – the rea­son be­ing that I was go­ing to be pick­ing up a min­i­mod­i­fied pull trac­tor to take to the Diesel and Dirt Derby in Keith, South Aus­tralia.

(You can read my story on that at http://bit.ly/TradeFarm­pull2)

I reck­oned this was go­ing to be the perfect op­por­tu­nity to test the tow­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the BT-50 on some­thing other than a na­tional high­way.

The 550hp mini-mod­i­fied trac­tor plus trailer, plus race fuel, tools and spares tipped the scales at just over two tonnes. Even though the cur­rent crop of 4x4 utes all claim tow­ing ca­pac­i­ties of over three tonnes, I still reckon they’re not the ideal choice for heavy tow­ing.

Two tonnes, how­ever, is just about spot on for this ute. At this weight you don’t have to worry about ex­ceed­ing GCM, axle

The Mazda BT-50 XT-R ute with Jobbo’s pull trac­tor adding a bit of tow­ing weight

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