Recommended video before reading the article.
Over the past three weeks we have been bringing you our opinion on pick up trucks like the Ford Ranger (read here) and the Toyota Hilux (read here). Continuing on with our pick up truck comparison, the third pick up truck in our list is the Mazda BT-50. Big and feisty with a grand design that is difficult to ignore, the BT-50 is what we like to call the ‘thinking man’s truck’.
If you like your pick up truck to be big, the BT-50 is huge. If you like your truck to be good-looking, the BT-50 is arguably quite handsome though looks can be subjective. And if you like your trucks to be tough, reliable and powerful, well the BT-50 is based on the tested and proven Ford Ranger T6, so it is built like a tank and has plenty of power. Enough power to pull anything weighing up to three tons in fact.
The Mazda BT-50 seems to have it all actually, and if there was ever a truck that we would trust to take us to the muddy estates and back to the city immediately after, the BT-50 would be up there in our list, along with the Toyota Hilux and the Isuzu Dmax, and a few others, including the new Ford Ranger. There are some trucks that seem to have all the talent of an off-road/on-road machine but are best suited to the tarmac, well the BT-50 is not one of them.
Even from the outside the BT-50 looks like it means business with its imposing size and muscular design courtesy of Mazda’s Kodo design language. You can immediately identify a Mazda car that features the Kodo design simply by the leaf styled headlights and the grille. The BT-50 was designed at the Ford Design Centre in Australia by Mazda’s engineers, and it has the same flowing lines as all the other Mazdas. The beefiness of the BT-50 is further accentuated by the 17-inch wheels as well as the side steps.
Step inside and you are welcomed by a simple back to basics utilitarian design. Unlike the Ford Ranger or the Toyota Hilux, There is nothing fancy about the interior of the BT-50, in fact it reminds me some of the first pick up trucks of the late 90s that didn’t offer much in terms of features and creature comforts, just the basics. There is no touchscreen entertainment system or automatic air-conditioning, no electronic seats and navigation, no luxuries.
But it is not all that basic, you still get modern touches like USB, AUX and voice controlled Bluetooth connectivity, all of which are handy to have these days; you never know where a cop may be hiding.
There is also cruise control and a reverse camera with the screen mounted into the rear view mirrors like early Kia models. The latter being particularly handy when parking this behemoth.
That is about it for creature comforts, but if it is technology you want then the BT-50 still has other tricks up its sleeve, like the transfer switch that lets you select between 4WD mode and 2WD mode by simply turning a dial located by the gear shifter. Ford Ranger owners will find this familiar as it is the same as the previous and current generation Ranger.
Then there is the engine and the six-speed gearbox it is paired to. The model we tested was powered by a 3.2 litre turbo diesel, but there is also a 2.2-litre model for sale. But we won’t be talking about the lesser sibling because the 3.2-litre turbocharged engine is fantastic, to drive and to refuel.
It produces 200hp and 470Nm of torque, which is a lot for a truck in this segment. It is amongst the most powerful pick up trucks you can buy right now, but besides all out grunt and technology to put down all that traction when you need it the most, the BT-50 is actually quite economical as well. We saw consumption of 8.6-litres per 100km, and that is not all that bad. So with a 80-litre tank, this Mazda is able to travel close to 700km before needing a refuel, of course that depends on how you drive it.
On the point of technology, there is an electronic safety net designed to keep you safe in all situations. Acronyms like EBD-BA, DSC, TCS and HDC all make an appearance here to providing dynamic stability, traction and even help you crawl down a slippery hill without losing traction. Just for the record, the EBD-DA stands for electronic brake force distribtion with brake assist. The two front passengers get an airbag each in case things get really sticky.
The Mazda BT-50 is charming in its own simple ways. Its double-wishbone with coilspring and leaf spring suspension gives the car a steady ride while the overall noise and vibration insulation is not all that bad. You still get that typical diesel drone, but we were able to live with that as it simply added to the rough and tough character of this truck. If it is a utilitarian workhorse with size and and comfort that you want, the BT-50 is the truck you want. And at RM120,596.50, it is a lot cheaper than the Hilux and the Ranger.
Next week we review the new Nissan Navara as we come to the close of the Motor Trader Pick Up Truck Comparison series.
Specifications – Mazda BT-50FL
Engine: 3.2 –litre, 5-cylinder, TDCi turbocharged diesel
Torque: 470Nm of torque
Gearbox: Six-speed automatic
Suspension: (Front) Double Wishbone with Coil Spring
(Rear) Leaf spring
Tyres: 17 inches
Dimensions: (Length) 5365mm
(Ground Clearance) 237mm
Folding Side Mirrors
Regular audio with tuner, CD, USB, MP3, Bluetooth Handsfree with
Voice Command with 6 speakers
Dual Zone Automatic Air-Conditioning
Automatic Rain Sensing Wipers
Reverse Camera integrated into Rear View Mirror
Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD)
Dual Front Airbags
Hill Descent Control
Electronic Locking Rear Differential
Dynamic Stability Control (DSC)
Traction Control System (TCS)