The all-new Mitsubishi Triton is already on sale; an all-new Nissan Navara is around the corner and Merc’s curious looking X-Class is imminent and now this, Mazda’s face-lifted BT-50.
According to Mazda South Africa, as we sought out the BT-50’s unique selling point, theirs is a bakkie that trundles a different path from the establishment. Comfort and its KODO design style are key endorsements and the vehicle’s profiled buyer actively seeks to un-follow the herd.
And the business strategy is quite vast and interesting. Without flinching, outgoing MSA MD informs us that the company isn’t after high volume sales like its counterparts. Selling in the region of 12 000 cars a year with BT-50 sales just under 2000, he also points out that this is the reason the brand has good resale values and they don’t want to mess with that recipe, choosing to retain and give good service to his few clients.
It doesn’t end there. The company has in effect, exited the fleet game and thus no more single-cab workhorse derivatives will be brought in and, according to Hughes again, the jury is still out on the introduction of the working engineer’s darling – the extended cab.
For now, the refreshed five model range BT-50 is exclusively in lifestyle focused double-cab shape and is underpinned by 4×2 and 4×4 in either six-speed manual or 5-speed automatic drive trains and powered by either a new 110kW and 375Nm producing 2.2-litre diesel and a five-cylinder 3.2-litre diesel with 147kW and 470Nm, which again in a bizarre showing off their sales split, numbers show that more 4×2 variants than 4×4 are finding homes.
What exactly is this lifestyle outlook then if it doesn’t include the ability to go off-road, we asked? The answer can be found in how the new car drives. Mind you, it’s made from the same bolts and nuts that build the Ford Ranger but we felt that the BT-50’s cushiness and refinement sits a notch above. It’s certainly quieter from inside with evidently more noise deleting materials added plus the design of the Mazda’s interior is calmer, more elegant and ultimately more Feng Shui than its ex-brother’s brute force outlook. It’s also sumptuously specified with a six-speaker system, 6 airbags, side step, cruise control, multi-function steering wheel and more.
Combining grace with functionality makes for a happier bakkie experience and one which makes living in the City painless while also appealing for cross country drives. We figure this as BT-50 in half a nutshell. The other half is its bona fide hardiness; the less than 20% of 4×4 derivatives sold. On this end it’s equipped with everything that the adventure junkie would require. Electronically selectable 2-speed transfer case; check! Rear diff-lock; check! Suitable height; check! And it will sail over obstacles with all of the expected dexterity and glory of a modern day bakkie. Any niggles? In all honesty, there was nothing that we could point out to as a legitimate drawback, except perhaps the exterior styling. It’s a look that you either loathe or like but whether we or anyone else approves of the styling truth is this will not sway BT-50 fans and, like the 440 SONA military deployments Mazda may have very well found their extra man in me to make it 441.
BT-50 2.2L DE SLX 6MT 4×2 – R441 700
BT-50 2.2L DE SLE 6MT 4×2 – R477 700
BT-50 2.2L DE SLE A/T 4×2 – R497 700
BT-50 3.2L DE SLE 6MT 4×4 – R541 700
BT-50 3.2L DE SLE A/T 4×4 – R555 700