The new Mazda BT-50 is just around the corner and the good news is we won’t need to wait long before we find out what it really looks like.
While this is an artist impression of the new Mazda BT-50 ute – inspired by Mazda’s recent design themes and an earlier pledge to make the new one more truck-like than the current model – CarAdvice understands it could be unveiled within months and in showrooms sooner than anticipated.
Before the global COVID-19 lockdowns, CarAdvice understands there was a possibility the new Mazda BT-50 could have been in local showrooms by the end of this year.
Using history as a guide, the current generation Mazda BT-50 arrived just two months after the Ford Ranger on which it is based went on sale, in 2011.
As regular readers will know, the big news regarding the Mazda BT-50 this time around is that it is the first example built on the new generation Isuzu D-Max (pictured below) which, according to our earlier reports citing dealer sources, should be in local showrooms in July, pending any COVID-19 related delays.
CarAdvice understands one of the reasons Mazda made relatively little investment in updating the current Ford Ranger-based Mazda BT-50 ute over the past nine years – aside from recent changes to the infotainment system and a revised grille and bumper – is because it wanted to expedite the introduction of the Isuzu D-Max-based model. The new Ford Ranger is not due in Australian showrooms until the middle of next year.
The 48-year partnership with Mazda and Ford compact pick-ups will come to an end late this year or early next, after Mazda successfully negotiated to bow out of the long-standing deal before the current generation BT-50 was due to reach the end of the line – and the company switches to an Isuzu-sourced pick-up.
Ford and Mazda had been working together on compact pick-ups since 1972. Initially Mazda made the Ford Courier ute for the US car giant and the two companies shared several generations of compact pick-ups all the way through to today.
The current generation Ford Ranger and Mazda BT-50 were introduced in 2011 and both vehicles were made in a jointly-owned factory in Thailand. That facility, however, is set to become solely owned by Ford once Mazda sources its new BT-50 from Isuzu’s Thailand factory.
Although the styling of the new Mazda BT-50 has been dictated by the Isuzu D-Max’s engineering “hard points” (pictured above) such as the size and shape of the cabin and ute tray – and the height, length, width and wheelbase of the vehicle – CarAdvice understands Mazda has invested in its own sheetmetal and front end to create a unique appearance.
CarAdvice understands Mazda has had some input on the design and fit out of the interior, which is one of the reasons the new Isuzu D-Max has so much new technology. Sharing development costs also makes it more feasible to invest in new features.
However, Mazda’s clever MZD-Connect infotainment system – which uses a rotary dial to access key functions on a tablet-style display screen – will not make it onto the new BT-50, and it will instead likely have the same infotainment system and instrument display as the Isuzu D-Max.
While the vehicles will look different from each other from the outside, they will be twins under the skin.
CarAdvice understands there will be no significant mechanical or technological differences between the new Isuzu D-Max and the new Mazda BT-50.
It is expected both will be powered by an updated version of Isuzu’s trusty 3.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel (pictured below) paired to either a six-speed manual or six-speed auto.
For the Isuzu that means an increase in output from 130kW/430Nm to 140kW/450Nm, however for the Mazda BT-50 that means a step backwards from the current 147kW/470Nm output of the Ford-sourced 3.2-litre five-cylinder, to 140kW/450Nm.
However, the new Mazda BT-50 is expected to weigh slightly less than its Ford Ranger-based predecessor, and promises to deliver similar performance.
CarAdvice understands the new Mazda BT-50 will retain a 3500kg towing capacity and an 800mm wading depth (the same as currently).
The rear diff-lock added to the new Isuzu D-Max will also make its way onto the Mazda BT-50 version.
Off-road statistics such as approach angles, departure angles and ramp-over angles for the new Mazda BT-50 and new Isuzu D-Max are yet to be confirmed.
The overall size and cabin space of the new Mazda BT-50 are expected to be similar to the current model, which was already one of the roomiest in the class; for the new Isuzu D-Max it will mean a growth spurt as the current model is slightly smaller than its peers.
Inside, the new Mazda BT-50 is expected to get access to all of the new Isuzu D-Max mod-cons such as Apple Car Play and Android Auto, a digital speed display, a wireless charging pad and push button start with sensor key on top models, dual zone air-conditioning, air vents to back seat passengers, and height-and-reach adjustment on the steering wheel.
Advanced safety aids available on the new Mazda BT-50 are expected to include numerous features the current model lacks, including autonomous emergency braking, blind zone warning and rear cross traffic alert.
CarAdvice understands Mazda Australia has developed an airbag-compatible bullbar for the new Mazda BT-50, however it is unclear if it will be ready as soon as the model goes on sale, or if there will be a slight delay.
Both vehicles can’t come soon enough for Isuzu and Mazda. Last year, the Isuzu D-Max experienced its first sales decline after 10 years of continuous growth, and demand for the current generation Mazda BT-50 (pictured below) has fallen for the past three years in a row.
Artist impression at the top of this story by Theophilus Chin.