MO­TOR­ING More costs less: the BT-50 Spe­cial Edi­tion

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - DAMIEN O’CAR­ROLL

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.

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