HomeAnalysisDriven: The all new Mazda BT-50

Driven: The all new Mazda BT-50

By Andrew Muzamhindo

Once upon a time, a bakkies was entirely for those who needed a practical vehicle capable of shipping heavy loads. As buying trends have shifted over the decades, we’ve seen bakkies enter the mainstream to the point where they have become a fashion statement. They have become a status symbol. You get promoted, you go for the Ford Ranger, Mitsubishi Triton, Toyota Hilux or the all new Mazda BT50.

Few people will stand up and say I love what I do in life. Well I do. I love cars. Analyzing cars is a hobby that has become part and parcel of my life for the past 13 years. I have written hundreds of articles in the process. I have seen game changing cars over the years and attended launches worldwide. But nothing beats a launch on your home soil of a vehicle that you feel will make an impact on the market if properly marketed and supported. The all Mazda BT50 is indeed a bakkie that will compete in its category with its head and tail up.

What a gorgeous looking bakkie! A sight to behold as it graced the grounds of Willowvale Motor Industries waiting for me to take it for a spin. The late American actor Will Rogers said; “You never get a second chance to make a first impression,” and while Rogers may have died almost 100 years ago, his quote has stood the test of time.

I found this to be true when first laying eyes on the new Mazda BT-50, which is arguably one of the sexiest looking bakkies that you can currently buy in Zimbabwe. Obviously, some people will have their doubts about Mazda bringing its car aesthetic over to a bakkie but the Japanese brand thinks that it has hit the nail on the head here, and I’d agree.

The brand-new Mazda BT-50 brings a whole new level of versatility and performance. This has been achieved through a relentless pursuit of challenging what’s possible. Innovation greets you at every turn with more features at your disposal than ever before. Bold, balanced, stylish and capable, Brand-New Mazda BT-50 truly is the complete package.

The market require bigger bakkies. Why do you think the P Series is selling like hot cakes? I believe that it has something to do with the global shift that we’ve seen to SUVs, bigger is perceived as safer – and who doesn’t want a tray at the back to throw all manner of things into? That’s exactly how we’ve landed on modern bakkies: they’re safe, practical, have room for the whole family and look great. Mazda’s new BT-50 has all of those traits down perfectly, especially the latter.

For its first two generations, the Mazda BT-50 had a lot in common with the Ford Ranger. But Mazda has teamed up with Isuzu for this new BT-50, which is essentially a rebodied D-Max built by Isuzu Motors in Thailand.

The Isuzu brings with it the title of one of the best safety credentials on the market. The BT-50 shares that five-star rating with Isuzu which is helped by the addition of a centre airbag that will stop heads clashing over the console in the front row.

It’s obvious that the Japanese brand spent a lot of time sculpting the aesthetics of the new BT-50, which shares the same design language as its SUV lineup. This was one aspect that Mazda is very proud of, explaining that it’s the bakkie that you’d be proud to park outside a restaurant when you go out for dinner.

Combining the latest technology, powerful performance and off-road capability, Brand-New Mazda BT-50 delivers unparalleled versatility and dependability. The tough and fuel efficient 3.0L 4-cylinder turbo diesel engine delivers 140kW of power and 450Nm of torque in both 6-speed auto or manual transmission. All this while using as little as just 7.7L/100km, making it one of the most efficient bakkies in the market. Backed up by a braked towing capacity of 3,500kg, a payload capability of up to 1,196kg and a host of features for the dedicated four-wheeler, the complete package can haul anything and go anywhere.

My test drive unit was the 3.0 priced from US$65000. This is the range-topping four-wheel drive Limited with leather seats. In terms of pricing, the Mazda is quite a cost-effective choice. Unsurprisingly, it’s cheaper than the likes of a Hilux or a Ranger, but it also undercuts the Isuzu that it shares a platform with.

The GSX gets 17-inch alloy wheels, and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto as standard. Moving up to the GTX gets you a flashy set of forged wheels and keyless entry. At the top of the range, the Limited adds heated leather seats and a remote engine start feature.

The first thing that Mazda wanted us to know about this BT-50 is that it is a completely new bakkie, from tow bar to bonnet. This means that the frame is built from high tensile steel, it’s got a brand-new interior, and an exterior that’s been blessed with Mazda’s famous Kodo – Soul of Motion design theme.

This last part is important, as Mazda claims that it makes for a bakkie that can scrub up nicely, and look at home on both the farm as well as outside a nice restaurant in town.

During the test drive stint, we tried out the BT-50s new hill decent control system which is controlled via the pedals rather than buttons, and is a little unusual at first, but is easy to use.

Hill hold assist was the other system we sampled, with the bakkie making a hill start on a slippery gravel-covered slope look easy. On the road, the Mazda like a refined drive in a workhorse segment, with other bakkies prioritizing practicality over passenger comfort.

Like all modern Mazda’s, the interior of the BT-50 is stunning, with evidence of the brand’s attention to detail scattered across the cabin. It has a large 9-inch touchscreen infotainment display that is easy to use.

It has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.

It’s also worth noting the slew of safety abbreviations that have been crammed into this bakkie giving it an ANCAP five-star safety rating, and buyers another reason to choose it over its competitors.

This new BT-50 not only looks good, it also drives nicely and is safe as houses, so it will be interesting to see if Mazda can climb up the sales rankings with its consumer-driven choices and competitive pricing.

Book your test drive with Willowvale Motor Industries today.

  • andrew@muzamhindo.com.

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