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