What if Mazda followed its rivals into four-wheel-drive SUV territory and added a wagon variant to the BT-50 line-up?
We give you the 2021 Mazda CX-50, our speculative concept of how such a model might look.
Alright, let's talk about the name. Given its size, we initially felt something like CX-90 or even CX-100 would make good sense, sitting it either alongside or above the CX-9 on sheer dimensions alone.
If not that, then perhaps a name inspired by some Mazda classic like the Tribute, or the Vitara-based Proceed, or even the Ford Explorer-based Navajo once sold in the US.
Ultimately, we went with CX-50 to retain that BT-50 connection – and you know that still wouldn't be the most confusing decision in the Mazda catalogue, let alone the wider market. (And let's ignore that the next CX-5 is rumoured to take the CX-50 name.)
Tough branding discussion done, we moved on to styling. Engaging our man Theophilus Chin, we explored two potential paths.
One, as shown at the top of this story, is the cheapest and therefore conceivably most realistic choice: an Isuzu MU-X rear with Mazda tail lamps and trim. If indeed Mazda were to consider adding an SUV to the BT-50 range, the likely low sales volume might inspire it to limit the amount of unique panels required.
Above: Isuzu's MU-X
Of course, Isuzu has yet to reveal its new-generation MU-X, and its rear windows and pillars might end up looking different to the current model – but, for illustrative purposes, this does the job.
Now, what if Mazda went for an entirely separate design, making this supposed CX-50 a distinctly Mazda offering. It is, after all, a very style-led brand and it craves uniformity in its line-up as much as Mercedes-Benz does.
In that case, we might end up with a design that has more in common with the big CX-9 – or, ironically, the Ford Everest that the outgoing Ford Ranger-related BT-50 never had the privilege of borrowing.
Would today's Mazda actually develop a ute-based SUV?
We can't truly know, but considering Australia is the BT-50's biggest market, it's likely any SUV spin-off would also be built with our market in mind.
In that scenario, the low sales volumes that would come out of the project would likely nix it before it got beyond the idea stage.
The best reason to consider a BT-50 SUV is, of course, its off-road capability and that 3.0-litre diesel four-pot. It might also be cheaper to buy than Mazda's existing large SUV, the popular CX-9.
But, as far as a big roadgoing SUV goes, the CX-9 already has most bases covered.
The CX-9 is the biggest offering in its class and offers seating for seven. It's longer overall than the current MU-X, although it rides on a shorter wheelbase.
So, while the MU-X gives Isuzu a credible and well-loved entrant in the SUV game, its value to Mazda would likely be far lower.