MAZDA Australia has at long last revealed its all-new BT-50 off-road pick-up, a vehicle which takes a fairly drastic step away from its old underpinnings and formula having been developed in conjunction with the looming Isuzu D-Max.
Due to arrive in local showrooms later this year, the new BT-50 brandishes an entirely new look compared to its Ranger-based predecessor, now aligning much more closely with the rest of Mazda’s range thanks to its new Kodo design front fascia.
Gone are the integrated, rounded off features and in their place, a boxy, more chiselled look dominated by the new Kodo design chrome grille, flanked on either side by a set of narrow headlights in typical Mazda fashion.
In the bottom corners of the decently sized front bumper are a set of deep set, vertically stacked parking lights reminiscent of those found on the upcoming HiLux facelift.
The rest of the body is fairly standard pick-up truck for the most part with the only features of note being a subtle parabolic line and virtual line created by the headlight surrounds, wing mirrors and door handles.
One new detail of note at the rear however is the new vertically stacked tail-light arrangement flanking the rear-tailgate and creeping around the sides of the tub.
“Mazda has worked closely with Isuzu to build this ute, taking the reins on all things design to ensure the new BT-50 has a distinctly Mazda look and feel,” a Mazda Australia spokesperson told GoAuto.
Under the bonnet is an Isuzu sourced 3.0-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine churning out 140kW of power and 450Nm of torque.
In terms of sheer power, the new unit is down 7kW and 20Nm down on the outgoing 3.2-litre five-banger (147kW/470Nm) but Mazda is claiming the new model more than makes up for it with a “significant improvement in fuel economy”.
The BT-50 is also down on power compared to some of its key rivals too, including the Ford Ranger (up to 157kW/500Nm) and Toyota HiLux (150kW/500Nm) but maintains a healthy buffer over the Mitsubishi Triton (133kW/430Nm).
The Nissan Navara equals the Mazda for both power and torque, as does the BT-50’s platform sibling, the upcoming Isuzu D-Max.
Towing capacity remains unchanged at the segment standard 3500kg while payload capacity is said to be “over 1000kg”.
Inside the cabin, the Kodo design language has been adapted and continued, paying special attention to Mazda’s “human-centric design” priorities.
According to Mazda Australia managing director Vinesh Bhindi, designers worked tirelessly to ensure drivers feel connected to the vehicle in every aspect, including the seat and steering wheel designs while being as comfortable as possible.
The seats themselves sport an impressive amount of bolstering for a pick-up truck, a move Mazda says was made to ensure “maximum support, especially when driving off-road”.
While the exact line-up and local specifications are yet to be detailed, the seats on the vehicle used for today’s global debut were finished in leather upholstery, a feature the brand hinted could be a staple of the range.
Adorning the centre of the dashboard is a new 9.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system boasting both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.
Other standard features and safety tech include adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking, lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert – the first time any of these systems have been fitted to a BT-50 as standard – as well as a telescopic steering wheel.
“The team has been careful to inject some of that Mazda premium feel into BT-50,” Mazda Australia marketing director Alastair Doak said.
“Just because drivers are going off-road and working in a pick-up truck, it doesn’t mean they can’t be comfortable.”
Mr Bhindi went so far as to say the new BT-50 sets a new benchmark in the segment with its “unrivalled design, comfort and capability… raising the bar for what these customers can expect from their ute”.
“A more rugged, muscular application of Mazda’s successful Kodo design gives brand-new Mazda BT-50 unmistakable road presence, while the high-tech safety features provide drivers and fleet manager with peace of mind,” he said.
“Ownership experience remains key to Mazda customers and brand-new Mazda BT-50 will take it a step further with a long list of accessories and customer programs to launch as we get closer to going on sale later in the year.”
No official launch date has been revealed yet although Mazda has confirmed it will be before the end of the year.
While the long and prosperous joint pick-up venture with Ford may now be over, it does not mean the two brands have parted ways with both the new BT-50 and next generation Ranger to be built at the Auto Alliance Thailand (AAT) facility.
“Mazda’s strategic relationship with Ford which has been ongoing for more than 30 years is one of the most successful examples in the automobile industry,” the Mazda Australia spokesperson said.
“Even now we continue to jointly invest in and run AAT, while cooperating for maximum benefit for both companies.”
So far in 2020 (year ending May), Mazda has sold 2426 BT-50 4x4s, accounting for a slim 4.4 per cent share of the ever-popular 4×4 pick-up segment.
This number marks a drop of almost 31 per cent compared to the same period last year when it chalked up 3505 sales.