Beauty un­der the SKIN

CHRIS RI­LEY turns the spot­light on Mazda’s goofy look­ing BT-50 XTR ute

The Weekend Post - Motoring - - Front Page -

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.

How much?

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

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