MAZDA BT-50
Wheels Australia Magazine|December 2020
A MAZDA SENT FROM ISUZU, WITH SHOVE
ASH WESTERMAN

TO AN OUTSIDER, the jumping in and out of bed between car companies must make it look like it’s the ’70s all over again, with swingers’ night in the suburbs in full flight, and house keys piled high in the bowl. Consider Mazda and Ford; they were hot in the cot together for the PK Ranger/BT-50. But that was last time; now Mazda and Isuzu have been getting all steamy for the third-gen D-Max and new BT-50.

It’s surely exhausting, but these are the tech- and development-sharing partnerships that are inescapable in the capital-intensive auto industry.

But rather than a co-development between Mazda and Isuzu, the new BT-50 is purely a reskin of the new D-Max, with zero Mazda input in terms of mechanicals or even suspension tune. So the core question is: has Mazda made the right call by dropping its Rangerbased ute in favour of Isuzu?

Well, if you start by comparing the basic engine specs, it appears the BT-50 has actually gone backwards. The Fordsupplied five-cylinder turbo-diesel from the outgoing model boasted an extra cylinder, 200cc more capacity, as well as 7kW and 20Nm higher outputs than the revamped Isuzu engine Mazda inherits with this new generation. Only the ADR consumption moves in a positive direction, dropping from 10L/100km for the outgoing five-pot to 7.7 for Mazda’s new (Isuzu) engine.

Out tester was a manual XT 4x4, priced at $49,360. First impressions suggest that spending the extra $2500 Mazda charges for the six-speed auto is probably money well spent. Around town, the clutch action is light and positive, but long, notchy throws of the manual start to wear thin.

PLUS MINUS

Safety; driver assistance; connectivity; robust vibe

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