The 2016 Mazda BT-50 is a pick-up that looks car-like and edgy but feels more road-friendly than many of its rivals. It may not appear as different as some people may have hoped, but its macho look is definitely worthy of everyone’s attention. To this day, the BT-50 is still one of the most competitively-priced models in the segment. It goes head to head with the likes of the Holden Colorado and the Isuzu D-Max.
The new Mazda BT-50 ute has 23 variants. It consists of three body types: freestyle-carb, single-cab, and dual-cab. The pricing for this range has not changed much, from $25,570 to $53,790. The BT-50 has historically done better in the two-wheel drive version than in the four-wheel drive in terms of sales. In 2015, the 4×2 models have had 3,474 units in sales or 12.9 percent of the market share. The 4×4 variants, meanwhile, have taken only 6.8 percent of the market share.
Mazda Australia’s managing director, Martin Benders, said the company received rejections from the small business and fleet buyers – which is more than what they needed. Benders said it did not turn off the private buyers. He added that the changes should appeal to business and fleet buyers, and will not detract from private ones. He believes that it was where the company got the growth opportunity.
There is a host of new standard equipment for all models apart from the changes done on the cosmetics. The company has given importance to 4×2 models and has decided to spend more time in the entry-level 4×2 XT single-cab variant. This entry-level model is run by a four-cylinder 2.2-litre turbo diesel engine with a torque displacement of 375Nm and power of 110kW. The automatic version has a starting price of $28, 815, plus the on-road costs. The diesel engine runs from 1,500-2,500RPM, and revving it up can get quite loud inside because the XT variants lack the engine cover that helps lessen the cabin noise.
The six-speed automatic transmission behaves quite well. It swaps between cogs smoothly, and you get to pick the right gear without hassle. There could be times, where driving through steeper hills will make you wish for a quicker downshift, but this is just a minor issue. The BT-50 XT variant is ready for the rough work, but the auto model has a Hi-Rider body that is 30mm higher when unladen and stretches to 65mm when laden. It also betters the manual two-wheel-drive version’s payload by over 205kg.
The XT’s interior has two bucket seats, instead of the three-seat bench in the Hi-Rider guise. It also features driver’s seat height adjustment, new interior highlights, and a new cloth trim. These are all done in gunmetal gray finish, instead of the usual shiny silver. There is now a lockable glovebox, as well. Mazda retained the small dash-top screen on all XT models, including the many buttons underneath. The company did not adopt the touchscreen media system because it is fitted to the GT and XTR models.
Handle and Steering Like SUV
The Japanese brand tuned the steering and suspension similarly to that of an SUV. Unlike the Ford Ranger where its steering system was upgraded to an electronic rather than a hydraulic unit, the BT-50 still has its hydraulic system. This means the steering can be quite heavy but offers a nice linear response when driving at higher speeds. The vehicle is also competent when it comes to cornering, and is stable in bends as well.
The Tech Side
The GT and XTR models have a new 7.8-inch touchscreen. It features a simple navigation system that quickly responds. The Bluetooth audio, phone streaming, and USB playback are all usable through the glovebox. Mazda retained the dials, as well as the buttons and knobs, but the cabin now offers a practical space.
The back seat is impressively comfortable and quiet. It also now has a new fold-down armrest that comes with cup holders – perfect for longer driving. The door pockets are adequately positioned all-around, while there are bottle holders for you to enjoy as well. However, the BT-50 does not have any optional safety equipment, unlike in the brand’s passenger car models. It means there is no blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, or lane-keeping assistance. The model does have the standard requirement, which includes airbags.
There is a reverse-view camera in the GT and XTR models. It comes optional in all other trim levels. The servicing costs can be determined based on your chosen engine, but all models need maintenance every 12 months or 10,000km – whichever comes first. This is more regular than many of its rivals, where some brands only require maintenance every 20,000km. The 2.2-litre will average $428 for the first 50,000km, while the 3.2-litre will have $450.
Verdict: is it worth it?
The 2016 Mazda BT-50 remains to be one of the better choices in it class. It offers value-for-money, with comfort as one of its priorities for this model. This model still has competitively-priced variants that better many of its rivals in this segment.
The high-end versions offer more technological features, but the entry-level has everything you need for a smooth drive. It may have a more regular servicing at 10,000km or 12 months, but the overall satisfaction it gives make the effort well worth it. Moreover, driving the BT-50 feels more comfortable, even during longer travels. The fact that it looks more macho gives buyers a bonus.
Related post: 2016 Toyota Tarago GLI Review