Beauty under the SKIN
CHRIS RILEY turns the spotlight on Mazda’s goofy looking BT-50 XTR ute
BEAUTY is in the eye of the beholder… especially with Mazda’s goofy-looking, allnew singing and dancing BT-50 ute. The XTR sits between the XT and GT models and this one has the six-speed manual. It and the Ford Ranger are twins under the skin.
Prices start at $32,590* plus on-roads. This one is $48,810*. For the optional six-speed auto add $2000.
What are its competitors?
The Ford Ranger springs to mind. Same mechanicals but better looking. Then there’s the Toyota Hilux, Nissan Navara and Mitsubishi Triton; not to mention VW’S more expensive Amarok.
What’s under the bonnet?
The range kicks off with a 2.2-litre diesel, but this one gets a big 3.2-litre five-cylinder diesel that kicks out 147kw of power and 470Nm of torque from a low 1750 revs. No mention of a petrol model.
How does it go?
It is pretty zippy for such a big bus. The short-shifting manual is ideal for getting through the gears in a hurry but, with narrow gates, it’s easy to muff the change if you’re not paying attention. Hills require little effort, even in top gear.
Is it economical?
Rated at 8.9 litres/100km (auto gets 9.2). We clocked up 500km at a rate of 8.8 litres/100km just taking it easy.
Is it green?
The BT-50 gets 2.5 out of five stars from the government’s Green Vehicle Guide (Prius sets the benchmark with 5). It produces 235g/km of C02.
Is it safe?
All variants with side airbags (which includes this one) score a maximum five stars for safety which means it could double as a means of family transport.
Is it comfortable?
It is relatively comfortable. The suspension is truck hard and jiggly on all but the smoothest roads but you expect that with utes (especially an off-road one).
What’s it like to drive?
The drive is fun – which is the important thing. At close to 2.1 tonnes, almost 5.4m in length and more than 1.8m wide, it’s a big truck and takes up a lot of driveway space.
Is it value for money?
All grades come with cruise control, Bluetooth, power windows and mirrors, airconditioning and a whole suite of safety technologies. XTR models add 17-inch alloys, front fog lamps, dual-zone climate control, leather gear shift knob and steering wheel, satellite navigation and chrome trim.
Would we buy one?
Apart from the goofy styling there’s not much to complain about. With an 80-litre tank, the BT-50 has a range approaching 900km, has a 1.1-tonne payload capacity and can tow 3.3 tonnes. Ground clearance is 237mm but that is compromised by the side steps. * Call Westco Motors, Mulgrave Rd, on 4044 4111 for drive-away pricing and availability. 2.5 3.5 3.5 3.0 3.0 3.5 5.0 2.5 3.5 3.0 3.5