The Mazda BT 50 2006 model was launched in the middle of very good market conditions. The interest for light duty trucks was at its peak, but the downside was that were many competitors in the game so Mazda’s BT 50 did managed to get only a small piece of the big cake.
While its exterior design didn’t have the power to take on more stylish competitors, Mazda had its own advantages and the biggest one was its competitive price tag ($18.800).
The 2006 Mazda BT 50 shared the same technologies and underpinnings with the old Ford Ranger, but unlike its sibling was a little cheaper and less well equipped. Power came from a 2.5 liter which developed 143 hp and 280 Nm of torque.
While the new generation Mazda BT 50 looks stunning, the old model was an ugly duckling at its time.
Mazda’s commercial vehicles have started to get better exterior styles only in the latest years, but five years ago they weren’t exactly an eye catcher.
Though, the BT 50 did offered a rugged style which coped well with its utilitarian nature. The overall design was pretty clean without any dynamic lines to break the monotony. On the other hand, we like how the grille was combined with the big plastic bumper as they formed a pretty nice design pattern.
The grille was also fitted with the Mazda logo in its center and received a thin chromed bar placed on top. The bumper was fairly solid and was fitted with three dynamic air intakes which managed to give the vehicle a slightly more aggressive stance.
Keeping it up with the requirements of this segment the, Mazda BT 50 had also a pretty high ground clearance and generously sized wheels wrapped in off road tyres. To offer more versatility, the vehicle was offered in either a two-seat Single Cab or a full Double Cab with seating for five.
The Double Cab has a maximum gross payload of 1175kg and, while the Single Cab offers a maximum payload of 1250kg with four-wheel drive or 1170kg with two wheel drive.
As with most trucks of its time, the Mazda BT 50 offered a pretty pleasant cabin. The interior comfort was close to what you’d usually get in a passenger car and you’ve also get acres of space as a bonus.
The dashboard looked slightly better than what you’ll find at its direct rivals from Nissan or Toyota and the materials were at par with its competition.
But even if the Mazda BT 50’s interior was much nicer than what was usually offered in the rest of the segment that isn’t exactly a huge compliment. Don’t expect to find a wealth of soft-touch materials, as we are talking about a highly utilitarian vehicle with its main purpose being transportation. But at least the interior build quality felt solid.
The center console was fitted with climate and audio systems which had fairly easy-to-use controls.
The sets were surprisingly comfortable with sculpted bolsters and high seatbacks, delivering a proper back and under thigh support. There were also plenty adjustments to play with and even the steering wheel have a few, permitting you to find a proper driving position in no time.
The driver was greeted by a pretty nice looking instrument cluster which was fitted with three big gauges and all of them were fairly easy to read without catching any disturbing light reflections.
Storage wasn’t a problem wither and there were enough cubby holes, consoles and cup holders to store your things safely.
The light truck was also nicely kitted with an MP3/CD stereo system, electric windows, electric mirrors, remote central locking and climate control but falls short of offering the leather trim and extra equipment of most other top-of-the-range pick-ups.
Engines and performance
The 2.5-litre turbo diesel engine develops 143hp and 243lb-ft of torque. While the engine isn’t the most powerful unit in the segment, it’s still stronger than other models and never feels underpowered even when the vehicle is fully loaded.
The engine was also pretty refined and once the ignition was turned on you were greeted by a nice metallic growl announcing that the truck is ready to play. There was also plenty of torque available on a wide range of revs and offered enough grip to keep you out of trouble even on the difficult terrains.
While the two wheel drive model needed care in slippery conditions, the all wheel drive version didn’t encounter any significant problems. The 4WD model was also offered with a low-ratio gearbox for more arduous working conditions.
Mazda BT 50 Engines Specifications
|2.5 liter||143 @ 3500||243 @ 1800|
Ride and handling
Mazda had always received good marks when it comes to driving dynamics, and the BT 50 does not disappoint. The ride is pretty comfortable especially in the 4WD model and the suspension has the potential to absorb most of the potholes without hearting your back.
You’ll also like Mazda’s power steering which feels well balanced offering a proper feedback at both low and high speeds.
On off road is also pretty capable, but it’s not quite in the same league with the Toyota Landcruiser.
Being forced to face a strong competition, the old Mazda BT-50 didn’t manage to build a massive success. Though, it was a fairly capable workhorse with nice and comfortable interiors and also satisfactory off road abilities.
The Mazda BT-50 offered a perfect compromise between the tough working vehicle and the big family 4x4. It’s true that it wasn’t as sophisticated as other models of its time, but it had a strong character and came at a relatively competitive price – a fact that is always worth to be taken into consideration.