The Mazda BT50 has redefined the dual cab Ute market along with its sibling the Ford Ranger. Having driven the auto version last year this is the first time I have had a chance to sample the 6 speed manual Dual Cab Utility XTR.
We have described the inside previously and while I prefer the Ford slightly the internal dynamics of the Mazda are first rate.
Features of the XT BT50 include air-conditioning, Bluetooth®, cruise control; MP3 compatible CD player with USB input, steering wheel mounted audio controls, trip computer and power windows and mirrors, 17-inch alloy wheels, front fog lamps, dual-zone climate control, leather gear shift knob and steering wheel, satellite navigation and chrome trim
A host of additional new features including satellite navigation, leather seats, auto-dimming rear view mirror, Hill Descent Control (HDC) and Hill Launch Assist (HLA) are now also available for the first time on the BT-50 range
All-New BT-50 sets the safety benchmark with every model featuring Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), Traction Control (TCS), Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Emergency Brake Assist (EBA), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) and Roll Stability Control (RSC). Additionally the XTR is equipped with dual front, side and curtain SRS airbags to ensure the highest level of occupant protection.
The 3.2 L 5 Cylinder diesel engine produces power of 147 kW @ 3,000 rpm and torque of 470 Nm @ 1,750 – 2,500 rpm and mates perfectly to the 6 speed manual. The box is a little notchy and getting into second gear requires a little effort going up and down. It almost seems as the spring pushes the lever towards 4th gear and you need to hold it tight to slot it in.
Thankfully the powerful motor has an abundance of torque low down and second gear becomes almost superfluous. Third gear is perfectly fine for roundabouts and turning corners. However I would buy the brilliant auto instead.
This time we took the BT50 on the sands of Stockton Beach north of Newcastle NSW. For those of you that know the area it has some of the hardest and softest sand on the east coast and some challenging dunes. The BT50 has an electronically controlled, shift-on-the-fly transfer case that allows the driver to shift between 2WD and 4WD at any time using a switch conveniently located on the floor console.
Letting the tyres down to 18psi was all that was necessary to provide an easy driving experience. The Mazda BT50 just glided over the sand without any hassle. The combination of wide tyres, low pressure and plenty of torque ensured that climbing dunes was a breeze. The suspension kept the occupants comfortable and with the work that has gone into reducing the NVH the ride was better than almost every other dual cab I have driven.
If you are in the market for a robust dual cab Ute for towing, work or recreational purposes, you just have to have a look at the Mazda BT50. It will tow 3350Kg with 335 Kg tow ball rating, handles off road situations with ease, glides over the sand like Lawrence of Arabia, plenty of internal room and almost car like handling with quirky looks to differentiate it from the bunch. It certainly has set the benchmark.
What is good?
• Diesel’s great power/economy
• Large deep tray
• Driveability (for a Ute)
What’s not so good?
• 2nd gear a pain up and down till it loosens up
• Driver’s window not auto (even though marked as auto)
• Driver’s seat needs tilt adjustment
Model Mazda BT 50 XTR Hi Ride
Model Price $50,172 RDAP
Drivetrain 4WD 3L 5 Cylinder Diesel 6 Speed Manual
Power 147 Kw @ 3,000rpm
Torque 470Nm @ 1,750 – 2,500rpm
CO2 Emissions 235 g/km
Economy 8.9 L/100km
ANCAP 5 STAR
GVG 2 ½ STAR
Tow Capacity Max 3,350 kg
Tow Ball Rating 335 kg
Overall Any Auto Rating 81/100
Behind the Wheel 7
Ride & Handling 8
Fit for Purpose 9
Towing Ability 9
Off Road Ability 8
Value for Money 8