A modest Aussie-made makeover, new pricing, servicing savings and new features to boost ailing ute's market appeal

A subtly new Aussie-made look to the 2018 Mazda BT-50 could be enough to help improve sales for the hard-working ute, and a couple of key new features and ownership savings won't hurt.

That's what is on offer with the lightly refreshed 2018 BT-50, revealed today. Styling tweaks – billed as "major front-end design changes" – include a boxy new bumper design and big new horizontal bars through the grille.

Designed locally, exclusively for the Australian market, the squared-off look is intended to give the big BT-50 "a lower visual centre of gravity and a more solid bearing on the road".

XTR and GT models get chrome grille bars and a dark grey bumper insert, while XT gets the less flashy satin black grille bars and a plain black bumper insert.

Styling is otherwise unchanged, with the large leaf-shaped headlights – perhaps the ute's most polarising feature and now a tired holdover from the brand's previous-generation 'Nagare' styling language – staying as-is for now and likely until it's replaced by a new Isuzu-based generation.

Equipment upgrades include, for the flagship GT, a chrome sports bar and an integrated LED stop light, heavy-duty tub liner, tailgate central locking, and a 12-volt auxiliary socket in the tub.

The entry-level XT picks up a reversing camera and the upgraded 7.0-inch Alpine infotainment system, making up for the outdated single-colour LCD display initially offered.

The entire range now also benefits from Apple CarPlay and Android Auto – oddly making the BT-50 Mazda's most advanced model on that particular front, with all of its passenger cars still left to go begging in the increasingly popular phone-mirroring game.

Mazda has also improved the ownership case for the BT-50, extending the allowed kilometres between scheduled services.

For the new model – a change which is not retrospective on pre-update models – service intervals have increased from 10,000km to 15,000km, while the 12-month timeline remains unchanged.

Costs are also improved, saving $854 over five years. See the table below.

15,000km p/aInterval2 Years3 Years5 Years
Previous model10k / 12 mth $1414 $2052 $3537
New-Look Mazda BT-5015k / 12mth $1091 $1522 $2683
 Improvement $323 $530 $854

Lastly, new drive-away pricing is now in play, with the 4x2 XT single-cab chassis starting from $28,990 drive-away, while at the other end the 4x4 GT dual-cab is listed at $51,990 drive-away.

Despite these changes, Mazda is not expecting a massive improvement on last year's sales figures – aiming for 15,000 in 2018 against 14,119 last year – but the brand may be content to simply stave off any potential slide.

By the end of March – the most recent figures available – Mazda had reported 1232 4x2 and 2175 4x4 sales year-to-date, up and down respectively on the 1219 and 2312 sales recorded for the same period last year.

The BT-50 placed last in our 2018 dual-cab 4x4 ute mega test. Get the full write-up here.

2018 Mazda BT-50 pricing (drive-away)

4x2

  • 6M 2.2L single C/CH XT 4X2 - $28,990
  • 6A 2.2L single C/CH XT 4X2 - $32,205
  • 6M 3.2L single C/CH XT 4X2 - $32,205
  • 6M 3.2L Freestyle C/CH XT 4X2 - $34,490
  • 6A 3.2L Freestyle C/CH XT 4X2 - $36,490
  • 6M 3.2L dual C/CH XT 4X2 - $36,198
  • 6M 3.2L dual-cab utility XT 4X2 - $35,990
  • 6A 3.2L dual-cab utility XT 4X2 - $37,990
  • 6M 3.2L dual-cab utility XTR 4X2 - $39,990
  • 6A 3.2L dual-cab utility XTR 4X2 - $41,990

4x4

  • 6M 3.2L single C/CH XT 4X4 - $37,990
  • 6A 3.2L single C/CH XT 4X4 - $39,990
  • 6M 3.2L Freestyle C/CH XT 4X4 - $40,490
  • 6A 3.2L Freestyle C/CH XT 4X4 - $43,490
  • 6M 3.2L Freestyle cab utility XTR 4X4 - $45,990
  • 6A 3.2L Freestyle cab utility XTR 4X4 - $47,990
  • 6M 3.2L dual C/CH XT 4X4 - $41,198
  • 6M 3.2L dual-cab utility XT 4X4 - $40,990
  • 6A 3.2L dual-cab utility XT 4X4 - $42,990
  • 6M 3.2L dual-cab utility XTR 4X4 - $46,990
  • 6A 3.2L dual-cab utility XTR 4X4 - $48,990
  • 6M 3.2L dual-cab utility GT 4X4 - $49,990
  • 6A 3.2L dual-cab utility GT 4X4 - $51,990