Mazda launched its all-new BT-50 yesterday with an extensive on-road and off-road drive program that put the new utility through its paces.
Regardless of what you may think of the front end styling on the new BT-50, let me assure you that Mazda has once again produced an exceptionally well built and well thought out vehicle that is sure to make the short list of utility buyers when it goes on sale this November.
The BT-50 will be available in three trim levels and three cab formats; the XT, XTR and GT make up the different specification grades, while the Single cab, Freestyle cab and Dual cab complete the range. However, not all styles will be available this year.
November 2011 will see both the Dual cab and Freestyle cab on the showroom floor, while the single cab won’t make it to our shores until the early part of 2012.
Mazda Australia boss, Doug Dickson, expects to see the following sales splits between the cab styles and spec levels:
Single Cab – 25%
Freestyle Cab- 15%
Dual Cab – 60%
XT – 65%
XTR – 25%
GT – 10%
Pricing for Australia models will be announced later today, but Mazda is saying that the BT-50 will be well priced considering the high level of kit on board the vehicle.
As far as four-wheel drive Vs two-wheel drive go, Mazda is predicting a sales split in favour of 4x2 models at 70% and 4x4 models at 30%, but we’re not so sure. Pricing will obviously play a key role in the popularity of each model variant.
Mazda has clearly put a huge amount of effort into the development of the latest BT-50, and just like its Ford Ranger cousin, this is a sophisticated utility that drives more like a car than a large truck.
We drove the Dual-cab 4x4 BT-50 with the larger 3.2-litre 5-cylinder diesel engine, which develops a thumping 147 kW and 470 Nm of torque from 1750-2500 rpm. It’s a hugely rewarding engine with excellent NVH for a thoroughly quiet cabin at 100km/h.
Mazda Australia has also tuned the BT-50's suspension for Australian roads and conditions and the result is a mostly pliant ride over all kinds of different surfaces including off-road tracks.
It’s also more comfortable than a truck of these dimensions has any right to be, along with better than expected off road ability.
Especially refined is the six-speed automatic transmission, which is smooth shifting with well placed gear ratios.
CarAdvice will post a review of the all-new Mazda BT-50 tomorrow night along with pricing as it comes to hand.