• Powerful and robust 3.2-litre diesel; smooth-shifting auto, car-like interior and features; deep tray; sips diesel; handling and driveability
  • Fidgety, overly firm ride; noisy engine; some turbo lag at low revs; polarising front styling still an issue for some

7 / 10

2012 Mazda BT-50 Review
2012 Mazda BT-50 Review
2012 Mazda BT-50 Review

Like most of the popular ute brands sold in Australia, the Mazda BT-50 can be bought in a multitude of configurations with various body styles.

In all, Mazda offers up to 19 different choices – from the entry-level 2WD single-cab chassis with manual transmission, through to the range-topping dual cab GT 4X4 auto model.

At $50,890 (before on-road costs) the Mazda BT-50 XTR 4X4 with six-speed auto (as tested) holds the number two spot in the BT-50 hierarchy, behind the top-spec $53,140 BT-50 GT model.

From the outside, the BT-50 adopts Mazda’s familiar, but controversial corporate family face, which so distinctly differentiates it from all other contenders who have adopted more truck-like styling for the front. It’s been a bone of contention from day one that has continued to polarise opinions on the BT-50.

No such issues with the rest of the Mazda’s styling, though. The rear profile and side panels are as handsome as any rival in the segment.

However, under the skin the Mazda BT-50 is practically the same vehicle as the Ford Australia-developed Ranger, on which the BT-50 is based.

The Mazda, though, holds a significant price advantage over its similarly-speced Ford Ranger XLT Double-Cab twin, which commands a price of $53,390 for the manual.

Mind you, the Ranger is even more expensive than the top-selling Toyota Hilux 3.0 SR5 DoubleCab priced at $50,990 (before on-roads and auto), as well as the $53,990 Volkswagen Amarok 2.0 TDI420 Highline, with eight-speed automatic transmission.

2012 Mazda BT-50 Review
2012 Mazda BT-50 Review
2012 Mazda BT-50 Review
2012 Mazda BT-50 Review

The two share the same 3.2-litre diesel powerplant generating 147kW/470Nm, but for one slight variation. The Ford Ranger develops its maximum torque sightly earlier from 1500rpm (to the Mazda’s 1700rpm).

The end result is that the BT-50 suffers from slightly more turbo-lag than its Ford twin; most noticeable when heavy throttle is applied from standstill.

There is, however, locomotive-like hauling power available from this enormously willing diesel, with the Mazda BT-50 displaying effortless low-end tractability on the steepest of gradients.

The driving experience is helped by the close ratio, six-speed automatic transmission, which provides smooth and precise shifts along with excellent mid-range throttle response.

But, while it’s a strong, punchy, free-revving diesel, there’s no hiding its amplified, truck-like diesel clatter, no matter where you are on the rev range. It’s massively fuel efficient though, with a claimed average combined fuel-consumption of just 9.2L/100km. But by the end of the week, with a diet of urban work only, we averaged 8.9L/km.

Switching from 2WD to 4WD in the BT-50 can be done on the run, at up to 120km/h, and is as simple as a quarter turn of the dial next to the shifter. We tested this system in torrential rain and gained considerably more traction on the greasy roads.

2012 Mazda BT-50 Review
2012 Mazda BT-50 Review
2012 Mazda BT-50 Review
2012 Mazda BT-50 Review

On paper, the BT-50’s independent double-wishbone suspension up front and live axle/leaf spring set up at the back should be fine, but the ride, over anything less than freeway-smooth roads, is far from comfortable. There’s not enough compliance in the damping, so the Mazda’s ride is firm and jiggly.

In stark contrast, the Ford Ranger displays none of those characteristics, instead, ironing out compressions and patchwork roads far more successfully than the Mazda.

It’s a shame, because the general on-road dynamics on board the BT-50 match those of the Ford Ranger – that is, it’s more SUV than truck in this regard.

Apart from the firm ride (not to be underestimated) the Mazda BT-50 drives well and handles even better. Turn-in is sharp and it corners relatively flat (at the expense of ride quality) and feels composed, despite its high-riding architecture and significant 2086kg kerb weight.

The BT-50 uses disc brakes up front and drums on the rear, but there’s no issue with stopping power whatsoever. The braking is solid and the pedal is nicely progressive.

It might be a purpose-built work truck for the mostly tradie-tribe, but the interior trims and finish in this edition of the BT-50 are more of a match for the passenger car segment.

There are soft-touch materials everywhere and metal-look accents are spread evenly throughout the cabin. The centre-stack is neat (although busy) and the ergonomics are car-like.

2012 Mazda BT-50 Review
2012 Mazda BT-50 Review
2012 Mazda BT-50 Review
2012 Mazda BT-50 Review

The smaller-diameter, leather-wrapped steering wheel is a treat, as are the standard cloth seats, which are properly bolstered and help provide a cosseted feeling behind the wheel of the Mazda BT-50.

The XTR-grade ute comes with a stack of features, too, that includes satellite-navigation with a five-inch colour screen, Bluetooth phone and music streaming, dual-zone climate control, fog lamps, 17-inch alloy wheels and a better than expected 6-speaker audio system are just some of the features on-board the BT-50.

Rear leg and headroom is surprisingly generous even for those over six-foot, in the old table. The rear doors also open wide for easy ingress and egress and there are standard fit side steps with an aluminium finish.

It’s got a ton of load space in the tub, too. At 511mm deep it’s chest high for this reviewer and 1549mm long and 1560mm wide. The Maximum braked towing capacity is a sizeable 3500kg and in-line with the best in class.

With more and more work trucks these days doubling-up as the weekend family chariot (especially the dual cab models) safety standards have been dramatically improved across the board.

The Mazda BT-50 gets a full suite of the latest active and passive safety kit including six airbags, dynamic stability control with traction control, antilock braking system with electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist, trailer sway control (for extra stability when towing), load adaptive control (adjusts the stability control systems to maximise traction), hill launch assist and hill decent control for a full five-star crash test rating from ANCAP.

2012 Mazda BT-50 Review
2012 Mazda BT-50 Review

The Mazda BT-50 is a great all-round package, with keen pricing for a very strong offering. However, the one chink in the Mazda’s armour is the jittery ride over all but the smoothest of surfaces.

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2012 Mazda BT-50 Review
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  • Henry Toussaint

    Although many other people don’t, I don’t mind the front..

    • cokebottle glasses.

      What about the back??? Those taillights , very stylish.

    • Zaccy16

      i agree, in black it looks very good indead

  • Wile E Coyote

    Transformer designed by Korea….very scary

  • Sumpguard

    UGLY!!     It’s been around a while and I still don’t like it.  Why on earth would you buy this over the Ranger?

       It’s a shame they got the exterior so wrong because the interior is one of the better ones in this segment.

    • Sam

       I agree 100%.  The Ranger is so handsome and this thing looks, well, terrible.  However, I have seen a few of these Mazdas with nudge bars or bull bars which do a good job at hiding the front end.

      • Sumpguard

        Yeah but the bullbar shouldn’t have to hide ugly design. The design is so lazy it ain’t funny. Surely they did a consult before signing off on this rubbish?

      • MattW

        Notice on the TV ad they have used bullbars to hide the ugliness. Shame they can’t do something to hide the back end as well

    • Amlohac

      Not wrong, just different. It appears some people dont like different lol. The ranger front is a bit boring though, bit too “samey”. But Ford have obviously realised thats what people want most.

      • Sumpguard

        The fact they shoved the cars with bullbars fitted to the front in their ad in Australia means Mazda Australia think they got it WRONG!  Most people like different provided different doesn’t mean UGLY. 
            The Holden Colorado is different, the D-max is different, the Amarok is different. This is ugly!

  • Karl Sass

    The good economy numbers (on a tight engine?) and complaints over ride quality make me wonder if Mazda put high pressures in the tyres.

    • Amlohac

      Suspension is different, you can carry a bit more the tub of the BT50 compared to the Ranger because of it. But you do take a knock back in terms of ride obviously. I’d say thats the main reason, rather than tyre pressures.

  • Noddy of Toyland

    I’d put the money saved over the Ranger towards a set of Pedders shocks and dampers at the front, and airbags at the back, and a bullbar to improve the front (which isn’t that bad).

    • MisterZed

      Noddy, would putting a bullbar over your face improve your appearance?

      • Noddy of Toyland

        Putting a condom over your d*ck would improve society’s chance of avoiding your equally dull and annoying offspring. Just a thought.

        • MisterZed

          No, a better idea would be putting one over your head (the one above your neck), sealing it tight then waiting for about 2 minutes.

          • Noddy of Toyland

            Not sure what your beef is, I suggested both a practical solution to the Mazda’s ride problem, and gave you tips on safety in the unlikely event of intercourse, and now you want me to suffocate myself? What are the youth of today coming to?

  • MisterZed

    Hideous orange plastic indicators at the front – any reason these can’t be clear? No sunroof option, no leather option, fails. Numeric 0-9 keypad on the dash = waste of space.

    • matt

      would a clear indicator improve our face? lol sunroof and leather, just what tradies who wear footy shorts and leave there cars out in the sun all day want rofl.

      • MisterZed

        Try cleaning mud off cloth versus leather. MUCH easier to clean leather. Try spilling a soft drink or coffee on cloth, then on leather – see which is easier to clean.

      • Ace

         Trust me, a few of my mates have said the same thing about Leather (both ute and other vehicles) “Cloth is more comfortable blah blah, Leather gets hot blah blah”

        Once they actually tried leather properly, none have gone back to cloth. Leather is miles better than fabric/cloth and you are kidding yourself (or maybe too cheap to spring the extra cash) if you think otherwise.

    • F1orce

      It’s a truck..

      Gotta look American ..

    • Amlohac

      There is leather, in the GT spec with electric seating adjustment, its $2600 bucks more than the XTR and you get a few extras like auto lights and auto wipers etc.

    • Richard

      Leather = get the GT model!

    • Henry Toussaint

       There is leather in the top spec GT…

    • Zaccy16

      the keyboard is a ford thing, not mazda, they have the same stupid arrangement in the fiesta and focus

  • http://www.ozmazda.com/ OZM

    great ute Mazda and CA I have driven one around Orange on and off road and I dont confere with you about the jittery suspension…..it was fine it felt heaps better than the LoLux and as for its front end I like the bold fresh look as its not boring like the Ranger…..but its all about choice….
    Bring it on flame away as it will just roll off….I tested a Ranger and beside not liking it from the start I didnt find much different between the Mazd and Ford….

    • Anthony

      OZM, several of the road testers at CA drove the Mazda BT-50 and the Ford Ranger back-to-back (just to be sure) and all reported the same fidgety ride on the bitumen. 

  • Nick

    Towing Capacity 3’350 kg still not up to spec with Holden Colorado but still just as good

    • Anthony

       Nick, braked towing capacity on the 4X4 XTR BT-50 is 3500kg.

      • Amlohac

        Think you’ll find its 3.35 actually Anth.

        • Aquahead

          Just checked the Mazda website and the BT-50 has a maximum of 3,350kgs braked towing capacity. FYI, Ford has recently up graded the Ranger’s braked towing capacity from 3,350kgs to 3,500kgs (for vehilces built from Nov 2012). Also interesting the BT-50 has a peek torque from 1,750 to 2,500RPM, where the Ranger is from 1,500 to 2,750RPM. Same engine, different tune I’d guess.

  • OSU811

    If they made the front end look tougher, would be the best ute on the market. But with that smily front grille it hands the honour to the ranger!

  • BTMatt

    After looking at all the 4×4 utes on the market the BT/Ranger are hands down the best all round.  The Colorado is cheap but is noisy and the steering is sloppy on centre.  I bought a BT XTR as they are cheaper than the Ranger have sat nav and I could option it up with all the bits I wanted for the same price as a stock XLT Ranger.  All these utes have a rough ride if they do not have a load in the back but the Mazda has a more responsive front end than the Ranger.  The other big plus on the Mazda is you can get them the Rangers have a 2 month wait due to part supply issues in Thailand.  As far as fuel consumption goes I am getting 9.1 Ltr/100km on an engine that is 6500km old.

    • Jimmy

      haha your fuel costs are 10% more than a D-MAX.

      • BTMatt

        Maybe but the car is about 50% better than a D max.

  • VTiR

    That is the most ridiculous looking front end on any current model vehicle, although only slightly more offensive than the hideous i45. As for the back end- afterthought? 

    • Bigs

      If you want to see an afterthought, check out the rear end of the new ranger with the tow bar.

  • Doctor

    They’re proving popular with the great nomads towing caravans – out numbering the Ranger by about 5 to 1. Yet to see an Amarok towing a van and I see VERY few Hiluxes towing vans. Seems that nearly all of the new Hiluxes are in mining towns, they’re everywhere in those areas. 

    • RoundBall

      A typical japanese designer’s work. They don’t have the design visions like europeans designers. Most decent looking Japanese or Korean cars are drawn from Europeans designers

  • Amlohac

    Geez anyone would think the reviewer has issues with the ride of the BT50…. 😛

  • Yetiman

    Not the best looking Mazda, is on par with their people mover Mazda Biante. Horribly Ugly!

  • Gtr-xu1

    Mazda don’t get much wrong these days.Bt50 and Ranger are at the cutting edge of ute design
    Unfortunatley for Mazda the front doesn’t look good in picture or live and the roobar doesn’t hide it.Series2 upgrade Mazda change the front styling.

  • Kjproctor

    I can t beleive everybody is so concerned about the front end .Sure not the best looking, but do you buy a vehicle just for its looks alone. I bought a BT50 GT because it was available the dealer was good and have had mazdas before and been well looked after. Its performance is superb has all the power I need and has great fuel economy. Traded 80 series cruiser in for this vehicle for more safety and better towing power as i tow 22ft boat. Get better fuel economy towing boat than i could get running around in criuser by itself. Could not even look at a ranger when buying new vehicle as there were none available and could not justify price difference. Each to there own but I love this new BT50.

  • Russ elliott

    Just picked up my new November 2012 built BT50 XTR, It’s a great vehicle, smooth and quiet ride, with only 200kls on the clock it returned 9lts/100k. Hwy 80% 20% city
    Great value for the money, I looked at most available utes and the BT came out the best value vehicle for my use, i want a ute that will tow a caravan 2500atm… very happy,

  • The Rock

    hey guys your not marring it, just driving it

    • Dukespest

      How ture mate I have been reading a lot of reviews on the new Mazda BT 50 And I was thinking to myself are these people going to drive it or have sex with it

  • Robert

    I note that it has rear drum brakes . Any issues as I want to tow a 1.6 ton boat x 6.2 metres long on a duel axle braked trailer.
    I have read the reviews and I need some real answers as to what it can do. Looks are just cosmetic I need it to work as a tradies ute and tow the boat in auto configeration.

  • Dukespest

    Because like every other ford I have owned New, Falcon Turbo, New Territtory, New FPV  Older Ranger all were in the garage more than they were on the road FORD never again

  • http://www.ozmazda.com/ Ozmazda

    I love the look of the new BT50 as its classy and different….and everytime one passes about people look and comment….so Mazda are doing something right. They might not get the govo fleet sales like the Ranger thou Mazda would be getting more GP on their sales…I pass my local Mazda dealer in Orange and wish I could trade my trusty ’05 Bravo 4×4 in on a new BT50…..maybe next year…enjoy Bushy.

  • Tretius

    actually wen u are talkin of mazda, u are talkin of ford…so if u diss one of them, either bt 50 or ranger, u diss all of them…the things are made by same peopl in same way only diffrent tunes….hey share weaknes if u check well

  • coalminer

    I drive my BT mostly long haul. Why a BT? Fuel economy(low 8’s), looks(I happen to like it almost as much as my wife), big spacious cab and 6 speed manual with cruise are big bonuses. The ride is a bit harsh without a load on board(full body massage) and it is noisier than the Hilux but I’ll wear that because on a long steep hill it’s bye bye toyota.
    Many of the comments here are about its appearance – 2 things:
    you cant see it when your driving it and;
    it’s the only car I’ve driven that I have been asked “where can I get one?”
    BTW it’s it is and its, will I be caned?

    • Ceeteemac

      I have some issues with my bullbar mounts. Mazda assure me that a re-engineered mounting bracket will be available soon. Mazda and Ford have invested a lot of money to topple Toyota from their pedestal and I have found the after market service from Mazda to be brilliant. I have no doubt that Mazda’s marketing strategy doesn’t stop with supplying cost effective competition but sealing the deal with great customer service.
      The only criticism I  have of the XT model that I bought is the lack of adjustment in the seat. Lumbar support and seat height adjustment are expectations in a modern vehicle.

  • Maza

    The 2013 models are braked at 3,500kgs, Same as the Rangers, have just done my homework on it. 

  • Huntinitdown

    dont know if you’ve noticed but clear covered indicator lenses make them hard to see in some instances.  All indicators should have amber lenses for safeties sake 

  • cm

    I need an all rounder.  Family trade High country 4×4 towing and touring.  I have done my home work.  BT 50 for me.  Had ford before  never again.  my only dilema is Manual or Auto.  Which is the toughest and most reliable long term

  • cooks

    well done mazda, maturing with time

  • Altlynx

    We have a 2007 model BT50 that has done 105,000km. Out of warranty, we have had to replace the head. Part of the head casting, where the injector retaining bolt attaches, has broken off.
    Causing loss of cylinder head pressure around the injectors.
    We know of another BT50 in our area about the same age, that presented with the same indicator problem of losing pressure around the injector. His head was not cracked or broken and they tightened the bolt and fixed the problem. We believe in our case there was a manufacturing problem but cannot get any Mazda dealer to help us or acknowledge this. So perhaps be aware of this potential problem.

  • hiluxdriver

    get rid of the orange in the head lights, and it would look half decent – look at all other mazdas in the range – they have clear headlights because they look better

    if only mazda had a ute with a body of the new mazda 6 – why don’t they? They have the good design sense in their genes, shouldn’t be that hard to design a ute that’s equally sexy in styling as all other mazda models. Holden nailed it with the Commodore ute, although its’ a shame they couldn’t make cab chassis versions.

    Also, I’m a tradie & drive a 2WD hilux ute, the one thing all ute manufacturers are getting wrong is the HEIGHT of the trays. 4×4 utes are actually terrible as a real work use, because their loading height is too high – BAD for the back! It’s worse if you choose a cab chassis and put on an aluminium tray – the height increases by another 200mm and you’ve now gotta lift more than a metre to load stuff onto the tray. That’s why most commercial vehicles, the REAL tradies choose 2WD.

    Try it yourself – lift 10x 20kg cement bags onto the back of your utes, and you’ll soon see that the 2WD the easier one to work with on a daily basis, 4×4’s loading heights are just ridiculous, they are only for show.

Mazda BT-50 Specs

Car Details
XTR (4x4)
Body Type
New Price
Private Sale
$31,020 - $35,250
Dealer Retail
$31,450 - $37,400
Dealer Trade
$24,100 - $28,200
Engine Specifications
Engine Type
Engine Size
Max. Torque
470Nm @  1750rpm
Max. Power
147kW @  3000rpm
Pwr:Wgt Ratio
Bore & Stroke
Compression Ratio
Valve Gear
Drivetrain Specifications
Drive Type
Final Drive Ratio
Fuel Specifications
Fuel Type
Fuel Tank Capacity
Fuel Consumption (Combined)
9.2L / 100km
Weight & Measurement
Kerb Weight
Gross Vehicle Weight
Not Provided
Ground Clearance
Towing Capacity
Brake:3350  Unbrake:750
Steering & Suspension
Steering Type
Turning Circle
Front Rim Size
Rear Rim Size
Front Tyres
265/65 R17
Rear Tyres
265/65 R17
Wheel Base
Front Track
Rear Track
Front Brakes
Rear Brakes
Front Suspension
Double wishbone, Coil Spring, Gas damper, Anti roll bar
Rear Suspension
Leaf spring, Hydraulic double acting shock absorber
Standard Features
Auto Climate Control with Dual Temp Zones
Control & Handling
17 Inch Alloy Wheels, Electronic Brake Force Distribution, Traction Control System
Cruise Control, Power Steering, Satellite Navigation, Trip Computer
Engine & Transmission
Diff Locks
Radio CD with 6 Speakers
Fog Lights - Front, Power Mirrors, Side Steps
Cloth Trim, Power Windows
Dual Airbag Package, Anti-lock Braking, Head Airbags, Side Airbags
Central Locking Remote Control, Engine Immobiliser
Service Interval
6 months /  10,000 kms
36 months /  100,000 kms
VIN Plate Location
Centre Of Chassis Frame
Country of Origin