Mazda has revealed. Its new BT50 ute, the latest weapon for the highly successful Japanese brand in the fiercely fought out ute market.
Utes as most will know, are amongst the most popular type of vehicle sold in Australia these days coming in behind SUVs, with Toyota’s HiLux being the top selling model on the market.
Until now Mazda based the BT50 on the Ford Ranger, harking to a time when Ford held a significant share of the company. However these days Mazda significantly outsells Ford in Australia, alliances have changed and a new partner has been enlisted to provide it with a ute. In this instance the new donor is Isuzu with its increasingly popular DMax platform. Foird meantime has aligned with Volkswagen with the next gen Ranger to share underpinnings with the next Amarok.
Mazda has shared the Fiord Ranger platform since 2011 and the BT 50 has been twinned with the Fiord for decades before that, so it si a big shift for Mazda.
This new BT-50 ute made its global debut in 17th June, and is expected in Mazda showrooms later this year.
Some may argue that the previous BT50 was compromised by its looks probably as a result of trying to designers trying to differentiate it from the Ford Ranger. Styling is always objective but the fact is this new Mazda badged ute will be less divisive when it comes to looks and given Mazda’s ability to move metal in recent years should sell up a storm.
The new BT50 will get all the latest tech courtesy of its new Isuzu lineage including the latest driver aids, better connectivity, improved luxury and safety.
The new Mazda will have wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto along with a bunch of safety tech including new safety technologies, such as autonomous emergency braking (AEB), adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist and blind spot monitoring system.
Far from being just a technology haven, the new ute hasn’t forgotten its working class origins and will come with the same impressive 3.5 tonne tow capacity and one tonne payload that it carries over from its previous Ranger based chassis.
Like the Ranger, the new Mazda has a smaller engine with isuzu’s seriously impressive 3.0litre turbo diesel four cylinder. Despite the isuzu four cylinder being 0.2 of a litre smaller in capacity and puts out 7kW and 20 Nm less than the previous Ford five cylinder. However the Isuzu engine has a good torquey feel and in our opinion is more driveable than either the old Ford five cylinder, and especially the latest four cylinder Ranger donk.
Bolted to the back of the new engine will be a choice of either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic and there will continue to be both a 4×2 and 4×4 in the line-up. The 4WD versions will have the ability to choose two wheel drive in high ratio or four wheel drive in high or low ratio as well as offering a locking rear diff.
While sharing underpinnings with the DMax, the Mazda has different external sheet metal and a unique interior design.
The BT50 has the same ladder chassis, suspension engine, transmissions and HVAC ( heating /cooling and air con) as well as a big 9.0 inch touch screen infotainment unit as the DMax, however the dash, instruments and interior architecture are pure Mazda.
The exact specs including pricing, and precise model details will be announced close to its arrival here.
One thing that will not change is the Mazda’s country of origin with it still being built in Thailand, only this time in Isuzu’s plant rather than the Ford factory.
If its more likeable looks are anything to go by the new BT50 may help Mazda climb the ute sales charts a little further than the current one has, from its current position of eighth amongst the plethora of utes, to be a bit closer to the likes of market leader Toyota HiLux, Ford’s highly successful second placed Ranger and Mitsubishi’s Triton in third.