BIGGER, longer, wider BT-50
Australia is expected to be the biggest market for the new Mazda BT-50
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
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.