Mazda BT-50 forms new alliance
After having a relationship that lasted for decades, Mazda and Ford decided to part ways towards the end of the 2020s. The news came as a shock to many as the BT-50 pickup and the Ford Ranger shared the same underpinnings and the marriage seemed fruitful. However, Ford has now moved on to help VW develop their second-generation Amarok.
Mazda didn’t waste any time with their courtship either as the company quickly formed an alliance with Isuzu. So now the BT-50 will share the same mechanical make-up as the third-generation Isuzu D-Max.
Outside seeing some changes
As a symbol of consummation, the BT-50 has now gone for a more streamlined look, with a front fascia that resembles its other models like the CX 50. The only difference are the fog lights housed at the lower half of the vehicle to give it a more rugged appearance as well as to add practicality.
Around the back, the bed lining is boldly branded with the name of the vehicle, which is something quite new to me.
Truth be told, the previous model BT-50 was a very respectable and reliable pickup, and it seems like the persons at Isuzu were aware of this. As such, there are strong Mazda imprints throughout the vehicle that drivers can easily identify with. This includes the Mazda steering, which is identical to that used in other models and houses control buttons for the media player as well as other functions. A nice addition is the in-dash display, which has various animations and shows vehicle information in a clear and precise way.
A major observation is the 7.0-inch full-colour infotainment touchscreen, which is a pleasant upgrade from the previous model. It did take me some time to get used to it as I had to go back to the home screen whenever I got lost. The home button is located in the middle of a row, which is surrounded by other functions like volume and map buttons. A pleasant surprise was Apple Carplay, which worked seamlessly when my friend plugged in her Apple phone.
There is also a row of buttons that are laid out in a very simplistic manner to control the climate. Mazda tries to keep things slightly sophisticated by adding soft finishes where possible for added creature comfort.
How does it drive
The driving experience is what everyone is eager to find out about, and the model I tested was a 3-litre turbo-charged engine. It is filled with torque and can manage any load effortlessly. I even took it up a steep incline at Epping Farm, St Thomas. It moved over the tumultuous terrain easily, and with a robust differential system, it was able to do much of the work in two-wheel drive as the back wheels powered the vehicle through the pathway. The power is respectable, however, the acceleration does not come on with the force I was expecting, I mean, it’s no slouch, but I wanted to feel that extra umph from the turbo.
With a ground clearance of 9.4 inches and excellent approach and departure angles, the BT-50 dealt with the off road in a convincing manner. The community I visited was in the Blue Mountains area, where there are a lot of rocks and ditches to navigate, and the pickup did so admirably. This was especially the case when I was going downhill and activated the hill d control because the decline was steep and the surface was wet due to the rain. The vehicle searched for the wheel with the best traction and applied the brake to ensure that there was no slippage without me ever having to put my foot on the brake pedal.
As it pertains to the suspension, at the front are anti-roll bars, coil springs, independent double wishbones, and for the rear, leaf springs and rigid axles. Offroad, it feels great, as it absorbs bumps well and smooths out certain rocky terrain, however, around town, the ride can be on the firmer side.
This is the first iteration of the Mazda - Isuzu partnership, so it will take some getting used to. For the most part, they are off to a good start as the BT-50 is able to execute all the essential functions of a pickup in a convincing manner.
Price of tested model: $9.4m - $9.86m
Engine: 3L turbo diesel
Power: 140kW @ 3600rpm (187.7 hp)
Torque: 450Nm @ 1600rpm (331.9 lb-ft)
Transmission: four wheel drive
Fuel tank: 76L
Gas consumption: 7.7 km/l
Body Type: pickup
Competition: Mitsubishi L200, Nissan Frontier, Toyota Hilux, Ford Ranger
Vehicle provided courtesy of Executive Motors Ltd. Telephone 929-5274, firstname.lastname@example.org