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by Tim Beissmann

The all-new Mazda BT-50 ute will continue to be offered as a diesel-only model when it is launched in Australia at the end of this year.

The two diesel units will be shared with the BT-50’s sister car, the all-new Ford Ranger, although the 2.5-litre four-cylinder Duratec petrol engine destined for the Ford will not feature under the bonnet of the Mazda.

Performance data of both vehicles will be the same. The MZ-CD 3.2 (as Mazda calls it) is a 3.2-litre five-cylinder diesel unit with 147kW of power and 470Nm of torque. Like the Ranger, towing capacity will be 3350kg.

The current 3.0-litre diesel in the outgoing BT-50 produces 115kW and 380Nm of torque – 32kW and 90Nm fewer than the new model. Its towing capacity is 350kg lower than the upcoming model.

The engine will be available with both six-speed manual and six-speed automatic transmissions, and Mazda says both promise significant improvements in NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) levels.

The second engine is the MZ-CD 2.2 – a four-cylinder 2.2-litre diesel which produces 110kW of power and 375Nm of torque (up 5kW and 45Nm over the outgoing 2.5-litre diesel engine). Maximum towing capacity is up 250kg to 2500kg.

Fuel consumption and emissions data is still to be released, although Mazda says both engines will offer enhanced efficiency. Currently, the 2.5-litre engine uses 8.5 litres/100km on the combined cycle, while the 3.0-litre diesel averages 9.5 litres/100km.

The competition in the light commercial segment has never been so intense. The brand new Volkswagen Amarok started the overhaul of the market in February, the Ford Ranger is due early in the second half of this year, the BT-50 will hit local showrooms before the end of the year, and the all-new Holden Colorado will go on sale early in 2012.