The first image of the 2015 Mazda BT-50 mid-life update appears to have leaked onto the web, months out from the ute’s Australian launch around September.
The images are all over Thai forums such as BT-50club.com, though it’s a little hard to ascertain on which one it first appeared.
As promised, the facelift appears to toughen up the frontal design, with Mazda’s designers ditching the polarising car-like headlights and grille design in favour of a more rugged look influenced by its Kodo design language. There’s also a new lower bumper and potentially reworked tail-lights.
As we know, Mazda Australia — as one of world’s biggest BT-50 markets — had input into determining the look of the update. The redesign was penned in response to concerns expressed last year by Mazda’s general manager of design Maeda Ikuo.
“Some city-siders in Australia said it looks nice but still needs to have tough look, that’s what I heard,” Maeda told us at the 2014 New York motor show. “[It is seen as] a little too stylish, too car-like. But that was the concept of that vehicle.”
Pictured above: Outgoing BT-50.
The rejigged BT-50 will almost certainly retain the current car’s 147kW/470Nm 3.2-litre five-cylinder turbo diesel engine, and may pick up the new 118kW/385Nm (up from 110kW/375Nm) 2.2-litre unit from its Ford Ranger sister car.
Whether it gains other advanced technologies from the new Ranger — due in August/September — such as adaptive cruise control is not yet clear to us. It is expected that the cabin will adopt elements of Mazda’s latest MZD Connect infotainment system.
A large central display screen layout seems an essential addition to keep up with incoming new rivals such as the next-generation Toyota HiLux, updated Ranger and just-launched Nissan Navara and Mitsubishi Triton.
Mazda BT-50 sales are up this year by around 2.0 per cent to 5694 units, though it still trails the HiLux, Ranger, Triton and Holden Colorado.