Long-term up­dates

Mazda’s BT50 has been around the block, and both in the styling and dy­namic de­part­ments it has been stag­nant for some time. Mazda Aus­tralia – which sells a whole lot of BT50s – de­cided to do some­thing about this state of af­fairs.

Leisure Wheels (South Africa) - - CONTENTS -

The story be­hind the BT50 and Haval H6 C goes on a trip

MAZDA’S moth­er­ship in Ja­pan has seem­ingly put any devel­op­ments on the BT50 bakkie on hold while it sorts out its plans and the method­ol­ogy of its ex­cit­ing new joint ven­ture with Isuzu Mo­tors.

While the new ven­ture with diesel engine gi­ant Isuzu sure is ex­cit­ing news for Mazda fans, the fact of the mat­ter is that it will be years be­fore a new Mazda bakkie rolls off the pro­duc­tion line. Some pun­ters reckon the new bakkie will only ar­rive in 2021.

For the folks at Mazda Aus­tralia though, this is not an ideal sit­u­a­tion. The Aus­tralian mar­ket is ap­par­ently the big­gest BT50 mar­ket in the world. Big­ger even than the bakkiemad Thai­land, where the Mazda is man­u­fac­tured.

So when the prod­uct ex­perts in Ja­pan shrugged their shoul­ders and told their Aus­tralian col­leagues that no more de­vel­op­ment work will be done on the cur­rent BT50 while the de­vel­op­ment process with Isuzu com­mences, the Aussies de­cided to take mat­ters in their own hands.

They came up with a cun­ning plan: Mazda Aus­tralia con­tracted a lo­cal com­pany that spe­cialises in styling, spec­i­fi­ca­tion and equip­ment up­dates, to give the BT50’s front-end a bit of a workover. How they went about it was very clever. The new-look Aussie bumper was de­signed to re­place the orig­i­nal bumper in such as way that it would

not af­fect the ve­hi­cle’s ho­molo­ga­tion cer­ti­fi­ca­tion.

So the BT50s are still shipped from Thai­land with their orig­i­nal bumpers. Then, af­ter land­ing at an Aussie port, the Mazda Aus­tralia crew moves in, and re­places old bumper with the new bumper. In some cases a nudge bar is added.

In high-end mod­els, the Thai­land­spec and out­dated ‘in­fo­tain­ment’ system is also re­moved, and re­placed with a seven-inch Alpine mul­ti­me­dia system. Finally, the com­pleted ve­hi­cles are sent off to the dealer net­work.

To­gether with the styling and spec­i­fi­ca­tion up­dates, Mazda Aus­tralia hopes to main­tain a strong mar­ket pres­ence with the BT50. We think it’s a clever move, in the Aussie mar­ket, at least.

In South Africa, the bakkie mar­ket is pretty much dom­i­nated by the Big Three: Toy­ota, Ford and Isuzu. The up­dates would prob­a­bly only have a min­i­mal ef­fect here.

Mind you, we cre­ated our own ‘styling up­date’ for the BT50, by fit­ting the ARB bull bar, the T-Max winch and the ARB in­ten­sity lights. And it looks pretty good, too, we reckon. MAZDA AND JURGENS XCAPE IN NAMIBIA We said it last month, and we’ll say it again... the Mazda BT50 and the Jurgens Xcape re­cently re­turned from an epic jour­ney through Namibia. It went all over the show but the main aim was to meet up with the fa­mous Dr Flip Stander, of Desert Lion fame. Keep a look­out for a special fea­ture and in­ter­view with the Doc in the Au­gust is­sue. In the mean­time, here are some more snaps from the Namibia out­ing. MORE IN­FOR­MA­TION: mazda.co.za; cam­p­world.co.za

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