The Mazda B Series (also known as the Bravo) was a versatile workhorse sold between 1998 – 2006. The vehicle was available in both 2WD and 4WD drive versions with single cab, cab plus and dual cab body configurations.
The B Series was designed to offer a good mix between a recreational and utility vehicle and came with a pretty comfortable cab and adequate ride and handling abilities.
Engine options included a 2.6 liter fuel injected petrol and a 2.5 liter turbo diesel which offered the biggest power and torque in its class. The Mazda Bravo was developed together with the Ford Courier and shares the same power train, design and technologies with its sibling.
The Mazda B Series looked like a genuine work horse with a rugged and robust design that was at par with what you’d usually find in this class.
Up front, the B Series gets a wide radiator grille with a set of horizontal stripes and the company’s logo in the center. The lights had a conventional designed, but they looked better than other units in the segment and gave the vehicle a touch of sportiness.
The bonnet features two small creases which converge towards the grille, enhancing the dynamic look of the truck. The bumper has an attractive design and comes with a big air intake and rounded edges.
The rugged character of the truck was underlined by the flared wheel arches, the high ground clearance and the massive wheel which looked ready to go head to head with the harshest terrains without whining.
The rear load bed of the Mazda B Series features double skinned side panels to stop items from rolling round in the tray. Load rails are fixed to the outer panels of the tray on either side to enable items carried in the back to be tied down. On the other hand there are no internal tie down hooks located.
Access inside is made fairly easy thanks to the well placed grabs and the reasonable ground clearance. Once inside the overall design is a bit of a disappointment as the dashboard features a pretty basic style and the materials aren’t as upmarket as the ones from Toyota. Yet the build quality is decent and the cabin feels solid enough to endure the hard jobs of a utilitarian workhorse.
Space is far from being a problem and the seats are placed pretty low which gives you plenty of head rom. Leg room is also at a premium level and both the driver and passenger are treated with royal shoulder room in the double cab versions. On the other hand, the driver’s seat comes without lumbar and height adjustments which limit the comfort.
Luckily you won’t have any complains about the all-around visibility, thanks to the big lateral windows and the generous windscreen.
The flat and firm rear bench seat offers only basic support, and without any recline adjustments will prove to be uncomfortable on longer trips.
There isn’t much usable space behind the seats and there aren’t any sizeable storage bins either.
The dashboard features a simple and practical layout with big instrument gauges and no nonsense switches.
The standard equipment includes power steering, radio/CD player and driver’s airbag. Unfortunately you’ll have to pay extra money for air conditioner as it’s available only as an option.
Engines and performance
The 2.5 turbo diesel unit represented a huge progress for Mazda’s driving dynamics. Despite the relatively small displacement of only 2.5 liters, the turbo diesel unit offers nimble performances and a pretty generous torque. Thanks to its adequate power and torque, the turbo diesel never feels strained and is fairly responsive.
Unlike the old naturally aspired diesel unit that was unable to maintain a constant speed when it needed to climb an uphill section, the new turbo unit is able to deal effortless with the same situation even if it’s in the top gear.
The 2.6 litre fuel injected petrol engine delivers smooth, responsive power and a good level of torque right across the rev range. You can cruise all day long in top gear without problems and the engine feels pretty relaxed even when you carry some load at the back.
Both units are offered with a standard five-speed manual transmission, but there is also a four-speed automatic transmission available as an option for the petrol engined two wheel drive versions only. The manual transmission is light and smooth. On the other hand, the gear ratio spacing is less than ideal with a big gap between third and fourth gears which will spoil the fun as it drops the power when you engage the fourth gear.
Mazda B Series Engines specifications
|Engine||hp@rpm||lb-ft@rpm||Fuel||Combined fuel consumption - mpg|
|2.5||109 @ 3500||196 @ 2000||Diesel||20.8|
|2.6||123 @ 4500||155 @ 3500||Petrol||19.6|
Ride and handling
The suspension setup is pretty forgivable and copes great with the necessities of urban transportation. At the same time, the suspension is also pretty light soaking most of the potholes even when the vehicle is unladen. On the other hand the rear springs and shock absorbers are a bit strained when you carry heavy loads and the B series isn’t as capable as other vehicles in its class.
The vehicle handles reasonably, but its light suspensions are affecting the road stability in bends, when it can be felt a pretty accentuated body roll effect.
The steering is pretty responsive and comes with a reasonable road feedback. The braking system consist of ventilated front disc rotors and large disc pads which offer a proper stopping power and the pedal feedback inspires confidence.
The Mazda B Series is a pretty capable pickup, but it doesn’t really excel in any particular area. The cabin is decent with adequate comfort and plenty of space and the load bed is also fairly practical.
You won’t have any complains about the engines either, as both units are strong and deal effortless with almost anything you’ll ask of them. The ride is also surprisingly smooth for a utilitarian vehicle, but the handling isn’t exactly sharp due to the big body lean than will spoil the fun every time you want to get more aggressive with corners.