Bowen's Report Card
2021 Mazda BT-50 XTR review – The glamour ute
- Great Looks
- Loads of safety technology
- Robust feel
- Massive coin for the 2nd best BT-50
- Needs a load to calm the rear-end down
- Dark cabin
THE BOWEN SCORE
Is it a Ford or is it an Isuzu? Who gives a rats! It’s the new 2021 Mazda BT-50. I’ve just completed a week-long experience with the XTR dual-cab 4×4 model. Here’s what I think about some of the many changes.
The 2nd generation BT-50 was indeed based on the Ford Ranger. That platform was solid, but unfortunately, Mazda sadly failed on its own version of styling; twice in-fact.
The 3rd generation BT-50 is indeed based on the Isuzu D-MAX. However, this time round, its much applauded “Kodo” styling works a treat. I think it’s the most attractive dual-cab on the market.
Under the bonnet is a new 3.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel. It produces 140kW at 3,600rpm and 450Nm arrives early at 1,600rpm, and soldiers on until 2,000rpm.
Power is sent through a simple six-speed automatic (as tested) or 6-speed manual. The Ford Ranger when equipped with the 2.0-litre bi-turbo engine has a 10-speed automatic. Increasingly I, have lost favour with that combo; there’s just no need for it.
I have seen enough mud over the last couple of weeks to last a lifetime. It started with my Land Rover Defender P400 SE review and ended with the epic Hawkesbury River flood. So, as with the vast majority of BT-50 owners, all of my time was spent on sealed roads.
The almost elegant front grill is at odds with the experience behind the wheel. This thing feels very strong and robust. Thankfully the balance between small truck and an everyday drive has largely been nailed.
On backroads it does become a little too fidgety when unladen, but this is basically the case for all dual-cabs. However, I feel the BT-50 amplified that more than others.
Aside from that, it’s a very quiet cruiser on a motorway sitting at 100km/h. Without sounding sexist, there is also a good chance your wife will be more than happy getting around in one. At a stock level it’s happy navigating Westfield but has all the 4×4 gear required for weekend shenanigans.
The other thing about this category is how blokey it makes you feel. Now I’m not exactly an Alpha Male, I couldn’t knock the skin of a rice pudding, but from behind the wheel you do feel like you’re wearing a blue singlet, getting a Southern Cross tattoo on your arm, and installing aftermarket Kenworth mudflaps.
The XTR sits below the GT variant, a recent Thunder edition was added as well. The cabin is rather dark, and I think the piano black trim around the centre console and doors is a bit 2010 these days.
The door armrest is well padded, as is the centre console bin. The broader dashboard offers some soft materials, the rest is mostly hard-wearing plastics.
There’s a twin-glove box, dual zone climate control, and a tilt and reach adjustable steering wheel. There’s only one USB port front and back, which is a tad annoying. However, an old school 12V auxiliary power outlet remains up front
On the back of the front passenger seat is a handy carry hook. It folds away when not in use but is perfect to carry a few bags from 7/11 if you get the midnight munchies.
Lastly there are two cup holders up front and bottle holders in the side door pockets.
Value for money
The 4×4 Mazda BT-50 XTR is priced from $57,210, or $54,710 for the manual before on-road. Gee, that’s big coin.
Fuel economy is rated at 8.0L/100k for the automatic. I hit 9.4L/100km during the week.
Mazda offer a five-year/unlimited warranty. However, the donor Isuzu D-Max offers a six-year/150,000km warranty.
What I love
It really is a great looking ute, especially with the LED daylight running lights.
BTW, I won’t be getting a tattoo.
Safety & technology
Around 10 to 15 years ago dual cabs were the last category of vehicle to fit stability or traction control systems. These days it’s a driver assist extravaganza.
The BT-50’s most important safety features include, blind spot monitoring, emergency lane keeping, forward collision warning, rear-cross traffic alert, lane departure prevention with warning, lane-keep assist, and adaptive cruise control.
To be honest the semi-autonomous autopilot-style system is crap, even on a motorway. It constantly bounces left and right between clearly marked white road markings. So much so I just had to turn it off, before one of our great Police Force pulled me over.
The 9-inch screen is massive by dual-cab standards. It also supports wireless Apple CarPlay while you poor non-Apple people will have to put up with a USB connection for Android Auto.
Bowen’s report card
These types of vehicles, along with SUVs, have almost replaced the traditional sedan. To use a footy term, they’re a good utility player. I was far more impressed with the 2021 BT-50 than the previous model. I strongly suggest you look at one if you’re in the market. The Mazda BT-50 scores an 85 out of 100 from me.