Published on April 23rd, 2022 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Kodo Design Pickup Truck Test Drive Impression
Mazda BT-50 1.9L 4×4 Pickup Truck Test Drive
In 2013 we test drove a Mazda BT-50 that came with a manual gearbox. At the time there was a demand for manual gearboxes as the pickup truck was primarily used by traders, construction site workers and also people in the plantation industry.
Fast forward to 2022 and the RISE of Kodo Design and the BT-50 is just too pretty to be used anywhere but in the city. Still, underneath all that proud Hiroshima designer detailing is the all wheel drive running system that has been engineered by the good people at Isuzu Motors.
Unlike the models before, this BT-50 is now a close cousin to the global best selling Isuzu D-Max which has also been a multiple award winner in the region as well overseas.
Before this ‘industrial marriage’, Mazda was involved in Ford for its BT-50 pickup truck and was even built at the same plant in Thailand. Only the design was different.
With this latest Kodo Design BT-50, Mazda is in a marriage with Isuzu Motors and the BT-50 now comes from the Isuzu plant in Thailand.
So, in theory, it drives, handles and performs just like a Isuzu D-Max 1.9 Bluepower. The only difference, and it is a big difference is the exterior design and this changes the whole attitude of this pickup truck.
To start with, the Isuzu D-Max has never been a very outspoken model. It does not shout much about it’s presence, being more like a jack of all trades rather than a strong performer. Models like the Hilux shout heritage and history, while the Ranger is sheer size and power, but the D-Max didn’t have a particularly strong feature to speak of.
The key to its success was getting the small things right, and in its own way the D-Max found its selling points which is ruggedness and reliability.
In the modern pickup truck market development is slow, but when it happens it does so in large leaps. The introduction of variable geometry turbochargers saw a sudden reaction from all of the key players in the market, and soon nearly every model was available with a variable geometry system.
Another large jump was a shift from pure utility to having comfort oriented features, like a full entertainment system and sequential shifting for an automatic gearbox. To the hardcore off-roader or contractor, these may seem like pretty pointless features (hence why very basic models are still on offer), but to a discerning lifestyle-oriented pickup truck owner these features may make or break a car.
The Designer Truck
Yes, we dare use the word designer as this BT-50 takes away the word rugged, rough and terrain buster, and uses words like, soft, seductive and silky for the truck segment.
In fact, if you ask me, American electric pickup truck manufacturers like Tesla and Rivian should have discussed this design with Mazda and it would have been a sales hit. Maybe, Mazda will do better and launch a facelift BT-50 in coming years with a full Mazda battery powered drivetrain.
Did we just leak some vital clues? By the way, this Mazda BT-50 1.9L is just RM2,000 more expensive over its Isuzu sibling. Just in case you wanted to know.
Mazda BT-50 1.9L 4×4 Specifications
Engine: Inline-4, Diesel VGS Turbo 16V
Transmission: 6-speed auto Sequential Shift
Max Power: 150PS @ 3,600rpm
Max Torque: 350Nm @ 1,800 – 2,600rpm