The offer to test drive the big red Mazda BT-50 GLX initially presented me with a convenient excuse to escape. It’s fair to say I actually felt guilty as I loaded up the fishing rods, strapped the chilly bin and tackle box into the tray and closed the tail gate, but living in a converted tin shed with my wife, two young boys and a puppy, while waiting for a house to be built, meant luxuries like privacy and quiet were distant memories.
The guilt trip was short-lived once I climbed into the spacious double cab, pressed the start button and shifted to drive. Residing deep in Auckland’s wild west meant the back road through State Highway 16 was the shortest and by far the most suited route to the BT-50’S skill-set.
With the 3.2 litre common-rail turbo diesel offering 147kw of power, 470Nm of torque and a six speed automatic transmission there was plenty underfoot as I happily weaved my way through the scenic, yet hilly route.
Despite its size the BT-50’S handling and fuel economy was impressively car-like with minimal body roll through the hang-on-tight corners approaching Wellsford. Even the GPS voice guidance system exhibited good manners as it directed me to “please turn left” - if only the kids were that polite.
On arrival at Mangawhai the reversing camera took the guesswork out of hooking up the boat, and while the loaded Surtees 610 Gamefisher’s 1500 odd kg tow weight was never going to trouble the BT-50’S 3500kg braked allowance, the big red ute was easily up to the task.
The 4wd double-cab model I was rolling also had a few tricks up its sleeve for added peace-of-mind with a load in tow. Enhanced safety features like Trailer Sway Control, Electronic Brake-force Distribution, Roll Stability Control, Hill Launch Assist and Hill Descent Control are all welcome additions to reduce the stress that often accompanies towing, launching and retrieving a boat.
As we un-hooked the boat back at Skitzo’s bach and divided up the catch I knew I’d thoroughly enjoy the drive home too.
Despite having the least amount of gear Fossyl took out the honours with a solid 4kg specimen. Although nothing notable was caught they were all of great eating size and the measuring stick was rarely needed. Apparently Fossyl caught the most fish as well but that subject’s still being debated.
Time well spent
Having left West Auckland just after nine and arriving home with a chilly bin full of fish on ice by dinnertime, it's certainly a top way to spend a Saturday. Not to mention that catching a feed of fresh fish amongst spectacular surrounds with good company being pretty magic too.
We had enough gear on board to sink a lesser vessel
The Mazda BT-50 really is a damn impressive wagon. This mag's editor took it to Whakatane and Rotorua on a bit of a backcountry mission. He seemed a bit miffed to hand it over to me, especially when he saw the results of our day out.