BIG­GER, longer, wider BT-50

Aus­tralia is ex­pected to be the biggest mar­ket for the new Mazda BT-50

The Weekend Post - Motoring - - Front Page -

So the com­pany chose Syd­ney for the global de­but of a pre-pro­duc­tion model this week. Mazda also flew in chief de­signer Ryo Yanag­i­sawa from Hiroshima for the event and the Aus­tralian In­ter­na­tional Mo­tor Show.

The pick-up will be­gin pro­duc­tion in Thai­land in June and will be big­ger, longer and wider with a deeper rear tub, a more car-like in­te­rior and more leg and knee room than the mar­ket-lead­ing Toy­ota HiLux. Apart from the prom­ise of an "all-new driv­e­train" to match the "all-new body and chas­sis", de­tails of fea­tures, spec­i­fi­ca­tion, crash rat­ing, model line-up and pric­ing were not re­vealed.

In the com­pany’s first ma­jor new re­lease in 18 months, Mazda Aus­tralia man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Doug Dick­son says he can only re­veal de­sign de­tails. How­ever, when pressed he con­firms they will con­tinue with a diesel-only strat­egy and he prom­ises "keen pric­ing".

"All I can tell you, apart from that, is the dual cab will have the same equip­ment lev­els as our pas­sen­ger cars and we’re ex­pect­ing to start get­ting them soon af­ter pro­duc­tion," he says.

Yanag­i­sawa de­scribes his de­sign as "ath­letic". "I thought the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the cur­rent BT-50 and the com­pany’s Zoom-Zoom ethic was weak," Mr Dick­son says.

The new model is shaped "like a wedge" with prom­i­nent fend­ers from the RX-8. Up front, it fea­tures a five-point grille while the rear is high­lighted by hor­i­zon­tal tail­lights rather than the in­dus­try stan­dard ver­ti­cal lights.

This re­quires the tail­lights to be split into two with part on the tail­gate. Cab chas­sis mod­els will fea­ture dif­fer­ent tail­lights. In pro­file, the BT-50 has a bul­bous bon­net, high door sills, less glass and a deep 510mm tub with tie down points.

Sus­pen­sion re­mains a mix­ture of live rear axle and leaf springs with coil-over front springs. Yanag­i­sawa says the in­te­rior of the cur­rent model is "very truck like".

The new "sporty" in­te­rior fea­tures a swoop­ing

HIS­TORY

THERE has been a B se­ries ute in the Mazda range since 1966, mak­ing it the long­est-run­ning model. It has been known by sev­eral names, fre­quently re­fer­ring to the en­gine dis­place­ment but also known here as the Bravo.

More than 145,000 have been sold in Aus­tralia over the past four decades. So far this year, Mazda has sold 3461 two-wheel-drive BT-50s, down 621 or 16 per cent, while four-wheel-drive sales are down by nine to 3513.

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