Mazda BT-50

Date: Monday, January 05, 2009

Mazda’s sole light commercial offering in the UK, the BT-50 pick-up, has undergone a round of revisions which includes the introduction of a 3-litre double cab fitted with a five-speed automatic gearbox. Called the Intrepid, the new model offers nine per cent more power (156hp) and a 15 per cent increase in torque (380Nm) compared to the current 2.5-litre engine. It sports a leather interior, air conditioning, 6-CD autochanger, stainless steel rear bumper bar, branded scuff plates, a durable load bed liner and privacy glass for the rear side windows.

 

The existing line-up of 143hp 2.5-litre BT-50s — 4x2 and 4x4 single cab, and 4x4 double cab — have received a mild makeover with a new bonnet and grille to make the front-end look a bit beefier. There are also a few detail changes to the interior, but these do not include the replacement of the facia-mounted ‘umbrella-type’ handbrake lever unfortunately.


Also rather unfortunate is the lack of the four-door ‘stretched’ King Cab in the UK. We really like the practicality of this configuration especially as it comes with rear-hinged half-sized rear doors to give excellent access to the secure storage space behind the front seats. Customers looking for this type of pick-up will have to look to Ford’s re-badged version of the BT-50, the Ranger.


One useful addition, however, is the inclusion of a 3.5mm Aux socket for the MP3-compatible radio/CD player so that an iPod or other wannabe MP3 players can be plugged in directly.

 

On the Road

As the Intrepid is a UK-only model we were not able to get behind the wheel of one on the European launch of updated BT-50s, but we did have the opportunity to reacquaint ourselves with the 2.5-litre double cab.


The BT-50 rides well for a pick-up with rear leaf suspension and the engine is more than up to the task, both on and off the road. Our only rear gripe remains the handbrake lever. Mazda, and Ford for that matter, really should fit a conventional lever between the seats, rather than the unergonomic and clumsy ‘umbrella’ affair sticking out of the dashboard. It may be acceptable in Thailand, where it’s built, but it’s not in the UK in 2008.


On-the-Road commercial vehicle prices include ‘Customer Savings’ which run until 31 December 2008 and are £10,495 for the single cab 4x2, rising to £12,495 for the 4x4. The double cab TS will set you back £14,995, increasing to £15,995 for the TS2 which includes 6-CD autochanger, 16in alloy wheels, chrome grille and mirrors, front fog lamps and side step bars. The Range-topping new Intrepid is listed at £16,995. Prices exclude VAT, but include number plates, 12 months road fund licence and the first registration tax, sorry, fee.

 

Verdict

This mild update doesn’t include a proper handbrake lever, but the BT-50 is an accomplished pick-up. We do get the impression, however, that Mazda in the UK is more interested in selling them as high-spec ‘cars’ rather than utility vehicles.



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