The all-new Mazda BT-50 was launched in South Africa last week, quite some time after we first laid eyes on it at the Johannesburg International Motor Show last October. With competition tougher than ever, Mazda have chosen to differentiate their new high-riding light commercial vehicle (LCV) by placing strong emphasis on the BT-50′s lifestyle appeal, rather than its outright abilities as a workhorse.
Many might question the BT-50 when it comes to its styling. Mazda have incorporated it’s new ‘Kodo: Soul of Motion’ design language into the new bakkie, or pick-up. This styling principle may work well for sleeker shaped passenger vehicles like the new Mazda CX-5 or upcoming Mazda 6, but it certainly brings a new angle to the current range of bakkies on offer. In the same way that the Mitsubishi Triton did when it was first launched back in 2006, the Mazda BT-50 is styled to break the paradigm of a bakkie being used solely for commercial purposes.
The Mazda BT-50 is available in three body types: Double Cab; Single Cab; and Freestyle Cab. All body types are greater in length, width and height than the current BT-50, providing a roomier cabin and a larger load capacity. The seats are newly-designed for improved comfort and the front seats offering greater adjustability. Luxury and convenience features include: radio/CD/MP3-player with Aux-In socket; multi-function display located at the top of the centre stack to confirm audio operations; dual-zone automatic air conditioning system; 6-function on-board computer; central-locking with remote and more.
Power is provided by the same series of engines that does duty in the Ford Ranger. This means buyers have a choice of 2.2- and 3.2-litre turbo-diesel derivatives, or a 2.5-litre petrol unit. The engines are mated to either a 5- or 6-speed manual transmission, while a 6-speed automatic is also available. All four-wheel drive models feature a shift-on-the-fly transfer case, which is activated via a rotary dial next to the gear lever.
The in-line 4-cylinder 16-valve 2.2-litre common-rail direct-injection power plant is the mainstay of the engine line-up, and is offered in two power outputs. The base version offers 88 kW and maximum torque of 285 Nm, while the ‘High Power’ version offers 110 kW and 375 Nm of torque. The larger 3.2-litre 5-cylinder turbo-diesel produces 147 kW and 470 Nm of torque between 1 750 – 2 500 r/min. The 2.5-litre in-line 4-cylinder petrol engine features a power output of 122 kW and has peak torque of 225 Nm. With the exception of the entry-level 88 kW 2.2-litre turbo-diesel and 2.5-litre petrol models, all BT-50′s can be had in either 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmissions.
With an emphasis on providing a more ‘car like’ driving experience, the all-new BT-50 is equipped with double-wishbone front suspension, while a rigid axle and leaf springs doing duty at the rear. While the ride isn’t as comfortable off-road as the Volkswagen Amarok, with its unique leaf spring layout alongside rather than beneath the frame members, the BT-50′s ride is composed, if a little firm and in-line with its Ranger and Hilux rivals, over bumps and corrugations.
Passenger safety is taken care of with all the features you’d expect of a modern-day vehicle. The BT-50 is constructed using a strengthened cabin made with high-tensile steel reinforcements. Crumple zones have been engineered into the frame too, which direct and absorb collision energy. The cabin includes front and passenger airbags on all models, as well as a shock-absorbing steering column and crushable brake pedal to further protect the driver. Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) are paired with Emergency Brake Assist (EBA), together with Trailer Sway Assist (TSA), Roll Stability Control (RSC) and Hill Launch Assist (HLA) to ensure all four wheels remain in contact with terra firma.
While there’s no doubt the new Mazda BT-50 borrows it’s major underpinnings from the Ford Ranger and therefore it’s ‘built tough’ nature, the appeal of the company’s Kodo design as applied to the BT-50 remains to be seen.
|Pricing (incl. VAT and CO2 Tax)|
|BT-50 2.2 SLX 6MT Double Cab||R340 480|
|BT-50 2.2 SLE 6MT Double Cab||R375 760|
|BT-50 3.2 SLE 6MT Double Cab||R403 560|
|BT-50 3.2 SLE 6AT Double Cab||R414 890|
|BT-50 3.2 SLE 6MT Double Cab 4×4||R450 890|
|BT-50 3.2 SLE 6AT Double Cab 4×4||R462 210|
Pricing includes a 4-year/120 000km warranty, 5-year/90 000km service plan and 3-year Roadside Assistance.