Mazda BT-50 3.2 Diesel D/C 4X4 Road Test
Mazda BT-50, just like its cousin, the Ford Ranger received a make over this year. We take a brand new BT-50 over some dirt roads, a little off roading and use it for our daily commute.
On the outside, the Mazda BT-50 has been updated to look more fresh and modern. The design styling isn’t the usual jagged edges of most of its competitors but instead a more rounded look. I think Mazda has specifically gone for this to distinguish the car from others, although in the white colour our Mazda came with, the car does blend into the scenery quite easily. Urban camouflage if you will.
The bumpers grill and lights have all been updated and the Mazda is now much more distinct from the Ranger, giving it its own identity. The interior is made of robust materials and although this is a lifestyle bakkie the car feels rugged and usable inside. Our model came with the trust 2.2 diesel mill which pushes out 147kW and 470Nm. Easily dispatching hills and offroad terrain but notably, when exiting onto busy roads, provides great acceleration from a standing start so as to easily merge with faster traffic. Unlike some other bakkies, the rear diff can be locked in 2WD mode and BT-50 comes with 2H, 4H and 4L, all at the twist of a knob and while on the move. The car felt a little bumpy over the gravel roads but nothing lower tyre pressures wouldn’t fix. The interior audio and infotainment has been modernised with Bluetooth and USB. Still quite basic and easy to use and perfect if it’s going to be covered in dust and gravel from time to time.
The rear seats feel like a full-size sedan with plenty space at the back for large adults. Up front, the electrically adjustable seats made getting comfy easy but note that the steering is not reach adjustable.
On the road
The Automatic gearbox is smooth and once on the go, changes gears really well. Highway cruising is easily done at speeds of around 130km/h but faster than that and Mazda BT50 feels a tad strained. Maybe it was the Dunlop Grandtrek 265/17 which is a compromise for both on and off-road ability. The steering can be quite heavy at slower speeds due to the hydraulic system but after a few days, one does get used to the extra weight on the wheel. Parking the Mazda BT-50 would have been difficult due to the sheer length of the double cab, however, the nifty rear camera, visible on the centre rear view mirror made squeezing in and out of even the tightest parking space easy and rewarding. Fuel consumption is claimed at 9.7l/100 and we easily achieved around 10l/100 on our commute.
This is a bakkie with a difference and if you’re a die hard Mazda fan the choice is obvious. For those NOT wanting the run of the mill bakkies that tend to all look the same, the Mazda is a refreshing choice with its new refreshed look. It combines rugged off road ability with a robust interior. The white paint works if this is going to be a work horse but for a base price of R555 000, I would want a snazzier paint job.