Rugged work­horse

Townsville Bulletin - - Saturday Television - with KARLA PIN­COTT Mazda BT-50 DX

MAZDA sold about three mil­lion world­wide of its B-Se­ries work ute over its ten-year life­span, and it hopes to do even bet­ter with the suc­ces­sor BT-50. Build­ing on the pre­vi­ous model’s pat­tern, the BT-50 re­tains the same di­men­sions, but has been given new looks, some new and clever equip­ment and most im­por­tantly — more pow­er­ful en­gines. The units are both comon-rail in­ter­cooled turbo diesels that aim to si­lence any gripes about the B-Se­ries be­ing short of grunt, and vastly re­worked five-speed gear­boxes. A 3.0-litre ver­sion that de­vel­ops 115kW of power (an in­crease of 33kW) at 3200rpm and 380Nm of torque (up 109Nm) at a low 1800rpm pow­ers all the four-wheel drive ver­sions in sin­gle, freestyle and dual cab bod­ies, and can be op­tioned with a five-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion. The sole two-wheel drive DX Sin­gle Cab Chas­sis gets a 2.5-litre that also in­creases out­put over the pre­vi­ous one, get­ting 105kW (up 23kW) at 3500rpm and 330Nm (up 59Nm) also at 1800rpm. This is the en­try level work­site buddy, and the one we asked to test — just to see what is of­fered in the ba­sic work­ers’ wheels. The news is pretty good. The lit­tle truck at first sight looks very no-frills, but there are a few quite clever op­tions that make life eas­ier. One of the sim­plest is the in­clu­sion of a wa­ter tank with tap and in­set soap dis­penser un­der the tray on the pas­sen­ger side.This is one of the best gad­gets we’ve seen this year, just for al­low­ing you to clean all the grime off your hands be­fore you step into the cabin and smear the

steer­ing wheel, gearshift and ev­ery­thing else within your grubby reach. The cabin it­self might lack even things like power win­dows, a van­ity mir­ror and up­mar­ket fin­ishes, but it of­fers an MP3 com­pat­i­ble au­dio sys­tem. The air­con­di­tion­ing is also on the op­tion list, but is the fiercest sys­tem we’ve ever tried. Flick on the con­trols and the sys­tem chills the NQ-roasted cabin down to ice­box tem­per­a­ture in about a minute. The bench seat has enough adjustment to suit most arm lengths when com­bined with the tilt-ad­justable steer­ing wheel. One other odd omis­sion in th­ese safety-con­scious times is airbags as stan­dard, hint­ing that this ute is prob­a­bly more aimed at the pri­mary pro­ducer who sup­pos­edly wants to crawl across pad­docks.The airbags can be op­tioned, but are stan­dard on the other mod­els. The gearshift is a longish throw but quite easy to use, and there’s no doubt­ing the abil­ity of the turbo diesel, which starts chug­ging like a pint-sized draught horse right from the start. With noth­ing in the drop­side alu­minium tray empty, the ve­hi­cle feels like it is rid­ing on square wheels, pos­si­bly be­cause the sus­pen­sion is set up to take a load — and this is the kind of ute that will prob­a­bly never be empty. Our so­lu­tion was to line the tray with a bit of spare bed­ding and take a few lumps of wood and metal for a tour around town.This ex­tra weight smoothed out the ride con­sid­er­ably and also seemed to calm down the han­dling. But this is a work horse, not a show pony, and per­for­mance and dy­nam­ics are not so much an is­sue as it’s abil­ity to get the job done. So while its 0-100km/h fig­ure of about 10.4 sec­onds is re­spectable for its type, buy­ers are go­ing to be more in­ter­ested in it be­ing able to tow 2250kg (an in­crease of 450kg over the pre­vi­ous model) and Mazda’s claimed econ­omy fig­ures of 8.3L/100km for the 2.5-litre, an im­prove­ment of 14.4 per cent. The DX Sin­gle Cab Chas­sis re­tails for $23,255 with­out the tray, but Mazda is of­fer­ing a spe­cial launch price of $20,990 that in­cludes the alu­minium tray, lad­der racks, tool­box, wa­ter tank, air­con­di­tion­ing.

The Mazda B-Se­ries Dx has a non-non­sense approach

out­side and inside

While the DX en­try level ver­sion is de­cidely no-frills, clever op­tions like the wa­ter tanka nd soap dis­penser

add to its ap­peal

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