Mazda revealed the new generation of its iconic BT 50 model at the 2010 Australian International Motor Show in Sydney.
Compared to previous generation the new model received a radical makeover together with a bunch of technical upgrades to keep it in trend with today’s requirements.
The new model is available in single, extended and double cabs and features a pretty SUV like design with tasty fluid lines which give it a futuristic appearance.
The new Mazda BT 50 is offered with a choice of 2.2 and 3.2 DOHC diesel engines which develop between 147 and 200 hp.
There are still a lot of debates regarding the exterior design of the new Mazda BT 50. While some purists consider it too bold and inappropriate for the utilitarian character of the truck, other think that it looks stunning and they embrace the new style promoted by Mazda.
We find ourselves more on the appreciative team, as we think that Mazda has made a major step forward from its dull style and has finally come up with something original that has the potential to turn a few heads when passing down the street.
Leaving the love it or hate debate apart, the BT 50 looks very bold with a huge ground clearance and massive wheels which betray its rugged off road character. The big fenders have also received a pretty muscular design and further enhance the imposing stance of the truck.
The most controversial piece of design is the front radiator grille which features a fluid style that is continued by the sleek swept back headlights. The aerodynamic design language used for the grille can be also found at the front bumper which gels seamlessly with the flared wheel arches giving the vehicle a solid look.
Similarly with the exterior, the interior was also totally redesigned and it won’t be hard to notice that Mazda used the same fluid design language for the cockpit. The flowing design smoothly connects the center of the instrument panel to the raised center console while the dashboard has an asymmetric design to create optimal space on each side wrapping around the driver.
Mazda was always on top of the pack when it comes to interior designs and the new BT 50 further enhances this statement. The overall feel of the cabin is one of space and accommodation, with attractive-looking materials and pleasant contrasting tones. However, a closer inspection reveals that those hard plastic parts typical for this type of vehicles are still surfacing.
Though, the build quality is significantly improved over the previous generation and we also like that the cab kept its functionality unaltered.
The seats are also a joy, being both comfortable to occupy and well-bolstered. The new BT 50 also does a solid job of keeping out road noise, which is appreciated when attempting to hold a conversation with the occupant next to you. Storage isn’t a problem either, as there are a lot of wisely placed consoles and cup holders were you can store different things.
The Mazda BT 50 does provide plenty of room for all its occupants and the crew cab version moves the space to an extravagant level with more than enough head and legroom for everyone.
The road visibility is nothing short of excellent and we also appreciate the commanding driving position. Needless to say that everything falls easy into hand the controls are within easy reach.
Mazda’s designers fitted everything in the dash, with the top section housing LCD screens that display vehicle information and navigation. Below the data is a cluttered array of buttons that makes it a bit hard to find what you’re looking for. The steering wheel is also punished with the same treatment and features too many controls for its own good. On the other hand, we’ll have to admit that the wheel feels great to hold and thanks to its adjustments it won’t be hard to find a proper driving position.
Engines and performance
The Mazda BT 50 is available with only two engine options with a capacity of 2.2 liter and 3.2 liters.
The 2.2 liter unit develops 147 hp with 375Nm, while the 3.2 liter offers a maximum output of 200 hp and 470Nm. Naturally, the smaller engine is also more fuel efficient scoring an average fuel consumption of 7.6 liters/100 km, while the bigger one uses 8.4 liter for every 100 km. Both engines use an 80 liter fuel tank which offers a pretty good autonomy.
The engines are bolted on six speed manual gearboxes. The transmission is more on the rubbery side and is one half step behind of what you’ll usually find in the business. There is also an automatic transmission offered but it’s available only for the 3.2 liter engine. The automatic unit offers a better response and also scores a lower fuel consumption. The auto is adaptive and offers sequential change mode, while the manual has an upshift indicator for a better economy.
Ride and handling
The all wheel drive system is pretty capable and versatile and offers three modes 2H, 4H and 4L. Every mode can be selected by means of a convenient knob mounted on the console. If equipped with the automatic transmission, the vehicle also gets hill launch assist, hill descent control and a locking rear differential.
Following the BT tradition, the new Mazda BT 50 was built using a ladder chassis featuring double wishbones and coil springs up front, combined with live axle and leaf springs at the rear.
The ride is very good as the truck can absorb every bump without too much fuss. There is also a pretty limited body roll.
The steering is sharp and accurate and thanks to its good balance you won’t have any complains about it either. Overall the Mazda BT 50 has good road manners an can stack up with success against the best rivals in the segment.
The new generation Mazda BT 50 is a big evolution over the previous model. The exterior design looks great and it’s quite an eye catcher. The new cabin is also very comfortable and it’s fitted with a bunch of high end technologies which are expected to be found in a 21 century vehicle.
The engines are also up to the task and even if they aren’t the strongest units in their class they will be able to deal well with almost anything you’ll throw at them.
The ride and handling are part of the high class as Mazda knows how to make agile and nibble vehicles that are a joy to drive on both on and off road.