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