Published on April 12th, 2014 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Mazda BT-50 4×4 Pickup Test Drive Review
When the first Mazda BT50 was launched in Malaysia, it was a rebadged Ford Ranger that was somewhat jointly developed and manufactured in Rayong Thailand for the ASEAN market. Now comes an all new BT50 and it is a much better truck and still shares many components with the all new Ranger……..this is good and with Mazda’s much stronger network in Malaysia, this BT50 becomes a rather interesting option over the new Ranger.
Like the Ford Ranger, this BT50’s four-wheel drive system is driver-selectable via a rotary switch on the centre console and confirmed by a dashboard mode indicator. In 2WD, drive is delivered to the rear wheels, but once four-wheel drive (4H) is electrically engaged, torque is split on a 50/50 basis between the front and rear axles to cope with slippery conditions.
With 4H selected the BT50 can be still be driven on the bitumen much like an AWD vehicle, providing an additional level of safety and surefootedness in slippery conditions.
For real off-road work, 4L can be selected. Steering is power-assisted rack and pinion, while the braking system has ventilated discs up front, and, like most in the segment, drums at the rear. ABS with EBD and Brake Assist is a standard feature.
Interior and Equipment
The BT50 like the Ranger continues to lead the field inside the cabin. The front seats are comfortable and supportive with an adjustable driver’s seat cushion making all the difference, something that is, unbelievably, still not a feature in many of its competitors. This BT50 cabin is equipped as standard with an in-dash CD player delivering very decent sound and incorporates a Bluetooth system.
There is central locking, climate control air-conditioning and a rear bench seat that is surprisingly comfortable for a truck. The rear bench seat also flips up on a 60/40 split to create extra storage space behind the front seats. It also has power windows and mirrors, remote central locking, alloy wheels, side steps, leather-bound steering wheel with cruise control, dual front airbags, anti-lock brakes and seatbelt pretensioners. This BT50 offers a similar level of fit and finish (inside and out) to its main rivals, which are now largely manufactured in Thailand.
When it comes to on-road ability and comfort, the BT50 is clearly still ahead of some others. It steers, corners, grips and goes in a manner more reminiscent of a large car or SUV. The accommodation for driver and front seat passenger arguably also betters its competitors.
On the open road, this BT50 belies its size and feels ‘light’ and car-like. On winding roads, its abilities (and remember it is almost a two-tonne pickup truck) will have you believing that you can chuck the BT50 into corners… and you can within reason. When pushed, the BT50’s diesel is smooth and sounds rather sedate where it is not as noisy as others.
At the end of the test drive only I thought came to mind, BT50 or Ranger……since there are no other competitors. Well it is up to the nose styling that would influence your decision. Which one strikes your fancy?
Mazda BT-50 Specifications
Engine: Inline-4, DOHC, 16V, Turbo
Transmission: 6-Speed M/T, 4×4
Max Power: 150PS @ 3,700rpm
Max Torque: 375Nm @ 2,500rpm
Price: RM89,856.90 with Insurance