Function and looks
The B Series replacement proved a hit with ute buyers, writes Graham Smith
AZDA shunned the notion a ute had to look like a car to appeal to recreational users who were buying one-tonne utes, such as the BT-50, in increasing numbers for their weekend getaways.
The company believed a ute should still look tough and purposeful, and held true to that belief when designing the replacement for the old B-Series.
Beneath the tough exterior, however, Mazda worked hard to ensure the BT-50 had some of the ZoomZoom that was so successful in reviving the image of its passenger cars. THE BT-50 was an all-new model with barely anything carried over from the outgoing B Series. The model range consisted of 4x2 and 4x4 models, with three body styles — single cab-chassis, Freestyle extended cab and dual-cab utility — and three levels of equipment, the base model DX, the DX+ and the range-topping SDX.
It had a strong, purposeful look that gave it a solid, substantial image, the result of raising the belt line 30mm and the sides of the cargo bed by 60mm.
The cabin was generally a pleasant place to be. The only criticism was that it lacked elbowroom compared with most of its rivals, all of which had grown larger with the changeover to the new generations models, of which the BT-50 was one.
Mazda offered two diesel engines, depending on the model. The entrylevel two-wheel drive single cabchassis had a 2.5-litre common rail double overhead camshaft fourcylinder turbo diesel engine that produced 105kW at 3500 revs and 330Nm at 1800 revs.
All other models were powered by a 3.0-litre common rail double overhead camshaft four-cylinder intercooled turbo diesel.
When on song, the 3.0-litre developed 115kW at 3200 revs and 380Nm at 1800 revs, up by 33kW and 109Nm from the engine in the outgoing model.
Most models had a new five-speed manual gearbox, but there was also the option of a five-speed auto in the range-topping SDX Dual Cab.
The BT-50 was built in two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive forms, the latter using a dual range transfer case and limited-slip rear diff.
On manual models the transfer case shift was manual, and they had remote free-wheel hub lock mechanisms, while those with auto transmissions had an electric shift allowing ‘‘on the fly’’ shifting between two and four-wheel drive.
Underneath, the BT-50 sat on a beefed-up ladder-frame chassis. Larger front and rear shocks, and longer rear leaf springs improved the ride without affecting the BT-50s capacity for work.
Mazda chose to stick with nut-andball steering instead of following the trend to rack-and-pinion; the result was a wide 12m turning circle.
Brakes were a mix of disc front and drum rear, but with improved pedal feel and braking efficiency. ABS antilock brakes and Electronic Brake Force Distribution were available on all but the entry 4x2 single cab-chassis model.
Everywhere man: owners expect, and the Mazda BT-50 one-tonne dual cab delivers, in most cases.