Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

Masculine Facelift; Changes to the Mazda BT-50 Are Largely Cosmetic

Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

Masculine Facelift; Changes to the Mazda BT-50 Are Largely Cosmetic

Article excerpt

Byline: Vani Naidoo

Vital statistics

Model: Mazda BT-50 XTR Dual Cab Ute.

Details: Four-door 4x4 dual cab ute.

Engine: 3.2-litre five-cylinder petrol generating maximum power of 147kW @ 3000rpm and peak torque of 470Nm @ 1750-2500rpm.

Transmissions: Six-speed auto or six-speed manual.

Consumption: 9.2 litres/100km combined.

Bottom line: From $49,700 (manual) and from $51,700 for the auto (XT manual from $42,815).

THERE has been noticeable movement in the dual-cab ute segment this year, with Nissan, Mitsubishi and Ford all offering new editions with better levels of comfort and refinement, and Toyota joining that party this week with the much-awaited all-new HiLux (see pages 2-3).

Of course that frenzy has been fuelled by strong interest from those buyers who want a work vehicle that doubles as a weekend family carrier, or those families who are just looking for a more adventurous alternative to the sedan and SUV.

You have to change to keep pace in this fast-moving segment and Mazda is hoping the updates to its BT-50, with improved exterior and interior features, will not only broaden its buyer focus but also continue to present as a value-for-money proposition.

The changes, though, are largely cosmetic with the only mechanical difference being refinements to the shift action of the six-speed manual to improve first-to-second changes.

Comfort

The interior of this updated BT-50 remains greatly unchanged except for a new infotainment system and 7.8-inch colour touchscreen in the XTR and GT variants.

These upper grades are also equipped with sat-nav and reverse camera, the latter an $820 option in the entry-level XT.

Seats offer support, hold and comfort, with the back pew, too, cushioned and angled for a nicer ride.

Overall the look is quite reserved with function trumping form on most occasions. The steering wheel, while comfortable in the hand, is adjustable for height only. Storage options are varied and generally useful, although bigger door bins wouldn't hurt.

On the road

The BT-50 retains the 3.2-litre five-cylinder turbo-diesel engine which has brought much success in the 4x4 dual-cab ute segment and, together with the six-speed auto transmission, remains an able unit.

It is strong and powerful, with the diesel clatter quickly changing to a more acceptable hum at speed. The size and weight of this ute doesn't make for nimbleness around corners but she is steady on her feet, with nicely weighted steering.

But where competitors have improved ride comfort, Mazda has not, with stiff suspension offering up a bumpy ride on imperfect surfaces, especially with an empty tray.

The BT-50 is applauded for its off-road capability and although our launch forest foray was cut short by unexpected tree felling, it still managed to show off its composure and sure-footedness when low-range 4WD is called for. …

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