Turbo tub

Mazda’s trick-ac­cess life­style ute is set for its show de­but

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Car News - KARLA PIN­COTT karla.pin­cott@cars­guide.com.au

AUS­TRALIA, the main tar­get mar­ket for Mazda’s sui­cide­door ute, the BT-50 Freestyle, also will be the world stage for its global un­veil­ing.

It will be re­vealed at the Aus­tralian In­ter­na­tional Mo­tor Show in Mel­bourne. Mazda gave the world’s first look at the dual-cab ver­sion at last year’s show in Syd­ney.

Based on the Ford Ranger, the BT-50 in Freestyle form has rear-hinged pan­els that mir­ror the front-hinged doors to make for a very wide open­ing— 1408mm in this case and pil­lar­less— giv­ing easy ac­cess to front and rear seats alike. A fu­ture sin­gle-cab ver­sion is a fore­gone con­clu­sion but has yet to be of­fi­cially con­firmed.

How­ever, Mazda spokesman Steve Maciver says the strat­egy of re­veal­ing the first two body styles would raise more in­ter­est in the ute sub-seg­ments in which the BT-50 is lag­ging.

‘‘ We cer­tainly per­form very well with the sin­gle cab but were a lit­tle un­der­done is the 4x4 dual cab area,’’ he says.

‘‘ That’s where we want to grow the busi­ness and the fea­tures on the BT-50 will help us com­pete bet­ter in that seg­ment.’’

A large cabin usu­ally eats into tray ca­pac­ity but Mazda has in­creased the tub vol­ume of the Freestyle by 266 litres for a to­tal of 1453 litres.

Car­ry­ing space can be fur­ther boosted by re­mov­ing the rear seat cush­ions, which Mazda says are big­ger and more com­fort­able.

The BT-50 is largely a Ranger twin un­der the skin but its ‘‘ all-new driv­e­train’’, promised at last year’s mo­tor show, will not fol­low the Ford petrol path.

The ute will stay with the turbo diesel fo­cus, bet­ter­ing the out­puts of the out­go­ing 2.5-litre (105kW/330Nm) and 3.0-litre (115kW/380Nm).

The BT-50 will go on sale later this year, with pric­ing and spec­i­fi­ca­tions to be an­nounced closer to the launch.

Catch-up ca­pac­ity: Mazda aims to in­crease mar­ket share with the Freestyle. In­set: Wideopen­ing doors

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