The Stats

NZ Autocar - - Diven -

Model Price $57,295 En­gine 3198cc, IL5/TDI, 147kW@3000rpm, 470Nm@1750-2500rpm Trans­mis­sion 6-speed auto, 4WD Vi­tals 10.31sec 0-100km/h, 9.2L/100km, 235g/km, 2172kg

Of all the new ve­hi­cles sold here, utes oc­cupy five of the top ten sales spots, with Ford’s Ranger dom­i­nat­ing the chart, out­selling even that old favourite the Toy­ota Corolla. That mod­ern utes are now much more re­fined and eas­ier to live with than those of a decade or so ago is partly re­spon­si­ble for their suc­cess. Hop­ing to snag a few more sales in this pop­u­lar seg­ment, Mazda has given the BT-50 a facelift and added some gear. The most no­tice­able change is the re­jigged front end that con­sists of a re­shaped grille and head­lights filled with dark­ened in­ter­nals. The chrome grin of the pre­vi­ous model has been ditched, re­placed with a chrome ‘wing’ that frames the grille and ex­tends into the head­lights. This brings the frontal styling more in line with the rest of the Mazda range, and leaves the BT’s face look­ing a lit­tle less Jok­eresque. The rear end gets made over lights too. Like those on the front, the lamps are the same shape, but the chrome bits have been ditched while the lenses are now a dark red. Round­ing out the ex­te­rior changes are new al­loys, fresh run­ning boards and seven new hues in­clud­ing Ti­ta­nium Flash, as pic­tured. In­side, the changes are less ob­vi­ous, but ev­i­dently the seat cov­er­ings are new, as are some of the plas­tic trims and a lock­able glove­box. There’s added giz­mos for the GSX in the form of sat nav, auto lights and wipers, a re­vers­ing cam­era and all the con­nec­tiv­ity op­tions you’d ex­pect. Oddly though the aux­il­iary in­puts are hid­den well out of reach in the glove­box.

Un­der the skin there’s just one change, the ad­di­tion of a lock­ing rear diff. The five-pot diesel is still a rip-snorter and pro­duces the same 147kW and 470Nm as be­fore. The bulk of the twist is avail­able from 1750rpm which makes for ef­fort­less progress with only a whiff of turbo lag ham­per­ing progress off the line. Fuel con­sump­tion is quoted at 9.2L/100km; how­ever in our hands it was hov­er­ing around ten.

Where the Ford Ranger has gone to elec­tric power steer­ing the Mazda re­tains a good old-fash­ioned hy­draulic set-up. There’s plenty of feel at the wheel, but some may find it a lit­tle heavy around town. The ride im­presses, es­pe­cially in the ur­ban en­vi­rons where the worst of the rough stuff is fil­tered out re­spectably even when un­laden. Makes bomb­ing over speed bumps a breeze too.

As more fam­i­lies aban­don SUVs in favour of utes, it’s not hard to see why. The BT-50 seats five in com­fort and there’s plenty of head and legroom for full-size peeps in both rows. There’s a gi­ant (un­lined) boot out back for cart­ing ev­ery­thing a fam­ily could need and the tail­gate (which is now lock­able) just hap­pens to be the per­fect height for emer­gency nappy changes. Need a tow rig? The BT-50 will haul 3500kg no wor­ries.

If you’re in the mar­ket for a new dou­ble cab, be sure to take the BT for a spin. We reckon it out­classes the new Hilux on most points, and there’s bound to be some deals to be had with Fiel­d­ays just around the cor­ner. There’s also re­duced prices across the range (GSX is down $2300), and Mazda’s $200 capped ser­vic­ing cost for three years or 100,000km to con­sider.

Mazda BT-50 4x4 GSX

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