MOTORING More costs less: the BT-50 Special Edition
Well, for a start it is only available in one colour - Aluminium Metallic - which isn’t actually an exclusive colour (the rest of the BT-50 range is available in it), but it is the colour that works the best with the sticker pack that it wears.
While I amnot usually a big fan of stickers, what Mazda have done here works rather well indeed, with the blacked out section behind the back door windows working particularly well.
Okay, so one colour and a bunch of stickers don’t make it that special, but there is more.
The Special Edition also scores custom 17-inch black alloy wheels, fender flares, a black sports bar, a retractable hard tonneau, a bonnet protector and privacy glass on the outside, while on the inside it gets embroidered headrests and floor mats, as well as a tray liner in the rear.
But the most special part? That would be the price, which is actually almost $2,000 less than the standard GSX, despite all the extra gear. Mazda isn’t going to the Fieldays, so will get sued if it calls it that, so let’s just pretend I didn’t bring that up.
Only 50 examples of the "Waikato-based Rural Event" special will be available - 25 each of theAWDand the 2WD - and they will only come with a sixspeed automatic transmission.
And despite the rural event being in the Waikato, the Special Edition BT-50 is available nationwide. Yep, sure is, so that means an impressively complete package with a great interior and that big, brawny 3.2-litre 5-cylinder turbo-diesel engine under the bonnet.
While the Mazda’s interior has always been better than the Ranger, one area it lags behind the Ford is its infotainment system.
Where Ford has its brilliant Sync3 system, the Mazda’s is, shall we say, less than brilliant.
With fiddly, small icons on the touch screen, the unit was difficult and unintuitive to use. Adding to the irritation was the fact that it couldn’t maintain a reliable Bluetooth connection with my phone.
Luckily the rest of the interior is still as good as it ever was, with a pleasant design, intelligent layout and some very comfortable seats.
The ride is impressively smooth and compliant for a ute, and it feels remarkably settled and confident at speed. Handling is equally impressive and the BT-50 is surprisingly adept at being hustled along a winding road. Oh good lord, no. While it is impressively capable for a ute, there is still that "for a ute" caveat hanging off the end of it.
Actually, some weight hanging off the end of it is good too, because the big torque of the BT-50 does mean that you need to be circumspect with the throttle in the wet, as all that torque trying to squeeze itself through the rear wheels does have the expected side effect and you may wear the traction control light out.
But mainly, the BT-50 is big. Big and comfortable, big and capable and big enough that you spend all the time you are driving it in an urban environment mentally sizing up gaps and things overhead, painfully aware of the sheer size of the thing.
You do get used to the size, but the modern ute is still something not particularly wellsuited to an urban environment. Well, the obvious one is New Zealand’s best selling vehicle, the Ford Ranger.
But while the Ranger may look better, the Mazda is still a better deal, particularly the Special Edition, with its more gear for less cash.
At $53,995, the Mazda is cheaper than a Ranger XL double cab 4WD, which doesn’t have any of the exterior swag of the Mazda, nor is it as well equipped inside. It does have a far, far superior infotainment system though.
Of course, if you don’t mind swoopy-looking utes, then the Mitsubishi Triton is excellent value for money and while a GLX-R double cab would normally undercut a GLX BT-50, at $54,990 it actually doesn’t quite make it this time.
Which is understandable, because the Special Edition BT50 is easily the best value for money ute currently available in the local market. Simple as that.
The Mazda BT50 GSX Special Edition gets a load of extra kit for less money than the standard GSX.