Mazda developed the BT-50 alongside the Ford Ranger a few years ago and despite there being many similarities the market perceived them differently.
For some strange reason the more expensive Ranger outsold the BT-50. This is something I just can’t understand, even though the Ford has some extra features buyers can essentially get the same ute cheaper?
The 2018 Mazda BT-50 GT has a softer exterior appearance than the Ranger, with a sloping nose and grill and softer lines through the side but muscular wheel arch bulges.
External features of the GT include: 17 inch alloy wheels running 265/65 R17 tyres, front halogen fog lamps, auto headlamps, rear step bumper, side steps, and a battery in the tub.
The leather steering wheel is only height adjustable unfortunately but does have audio and cruise control buttons for ease of use.
There is enough seat slide and head room as well.
In front of the driver the dash is a two dial design with the centre split into two distinct information areas.
The centre console has the transmission lever and the 4WD select dial in front of the cup holders. It is a clean and simple design.
Above that on the stack are the buttons for the rear diff lock, traction control and hill decent control and then air-conditioning controls.
Rear seats are good for three people and they have rear A/C vents and controls which is pretty cool.
The BT 50 GT has reasonable storage with cup and bottle holders everywhere, a centre console bin, reasonable glove box, under rear seat and more.
The centre stack houses the new Alpine 8-inch high-resolution colour touch screen which now includes a fully integrated reverse camera and an improved sat-nav system that also features point-to-point four-wheel drive off-road navigation with 3D digital terrain.
For the first time in a BT-50, the infotainment system has split screen capabilities - allowing both audio and navigation content to be viewed at the same time - and displays HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) information, while incoming mobile calls can be answered via the steering wheel controls.
Including DAB+ digital radio – with improved audio quality from the four 50 watt amplifiers - the system also offers standard live traffic updates through the Radio Data System (RDA), hands-free phone functions are voice controlled via Bluetooth, and the dashboard now includes more accessible USB, HDMI and 3.5mm AUX ports.
Other features of the BT-50 GT include: wipers (front) 2-speed with rain-sensing function, air-conditioning (dual-zone climate control), rear-view mirror auto dimming, power mirrors (heating and folding function) with turn indicator, privacy glass.
Drive and Engine
The B-50 GT is home to the 5 cylinder 3.2L turbo diesel engine producing 147kW and 470Nm. This runs through a 6 speed automatic transmission and driving the wheels through a dual range box.
This makes for relaxed freeway cruising and excellent towing ability.
The BT-50 GT is great at towing heavy trailers. With a tow rating of 3500kg and tow ball rating of 350kg it is perfect for an active lifestyle.
The trailer sway control, linear delivery of torque at low revs and good feedback through the steering wheel means that the BT-50 GT is amongst the best of the Utes for towing.
I have driven the BT-50, like the Ranger pretty much on all surfaces, road, forest trails, on the farm, gravel rocky tracks, sand etc.
It always feels in control. It’s a great 4WD.
The dial 4WD controls are simple and intuitive to use. The driver can shift between 2H and 4H with the vehicle moving at speeds up to 120km/h and the accelerator pedal released.
The other benefit of the BT-50 GT off road is the rear diff lock.
Safety features include for the 5 star ANCAP rating:
- Airbags SRS: front (driver and passenger side (front) and curtain (front and rear),
- anti-lock braking system (ABS),
- dynamic stability control (DSC),
- emergency stop signal (ESS),
- hill descent control (HDC) – 4×4 only,
- hill launch assist (HLA,
- locking rear differential (LRD) – 4×4 only,
- roll stability control (RSC),
- traction control system (TCS) and
- trailer sway control (TSC)
- Build quality / Style
- Value for money
- Towing and 4WD ability
Not so Good Bits :
- Missing some safety features
- No Apple CarPlay or Android Auto
- No reach adjustable steering
The Mazda BT-50 has been a success for Mazda in sales and is an important part of their range.
It looks are more subtle than some others but especially the GT is packed with features has a well combined engine and transmission, is comfortable both on and off road, is great on all 4WD surfaces and tows like a dream.
It in some ways is an underappreciated 4WD Dual-Cab ute which is a pity given how good it is.
Facts and Figures: 2018 Mazda BT 50 GT Dual Cab 4WD Ute
- Engine: 3.2 litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder 147kW/470Nm
- Transmission: Six-speed auto 4WD
- Safety: Five stars
- Origin: Thailand
- Warranty: 2 yrs/Unlimitedkm
- Price: From $59,627