Words & Images Andrew Middelton
You’ve all but forgotten about the BT-50, haven’t you? The Ranger T6-based bakkie has been kicked into the ‘reserves’ team since its launch in 2011. And, while the rest of the squad is getting better all the time with updates and new tech, the Mazda has been left behind.
Unfortunately for Mazda, dealers reckon that the Ford Ranger (on which the BT-10 is based) outsells it by ten to one. And, while the new Ranger and Hilux sport a host of new technologies and refinements, the Mazda has to make do with the new ‘Drifter’ package to ramp up interest.
At R35 000, the Drifter pack doesn’t come cheap, but includes a sports bar (like a roll bar, but just for show), a tonneau cover, black alloys, side steps and a nudge bar. The nudge bar is about 26 cm off the ground, so any kind of dip in the terrain causes it to scrape. In fact, we abandoned the 4×4 trail we were interested in, because the nudge bar was already scraping the driveway leading up to the trail.
So, after you’ve saved the R35 000 and not bought the Drifter kit, you can begin to see that the Mazda is in fact a great deal for what it is – a badge-engineered pre-facelift Ford Ranger. At over R61 000 cheaper than the equivalent Ford with the same engine, autobox and capabilities, the Mazda starts to make sense. Unfortunately, probably due to its slow sales, the Mazda’s interior hasn’t been updated, and, as such, is a previous-generation affair − despite offering Bluetooth, climate control and park distance control.
As for the drive, well… It’s brilliant. In fact, it’s just as good as any mainstream competitor with a comfortable ride and spacious, leather-clad interior. Also, the 147kW five-cylinder Ford engine is still the best in the business at this price point, with masses of overtaking thrust and decent economy. Just like Mazda’s other products, the machine itself is fantastic in almost every way; you’ll just have to get around the styling first. It’s this styling that’s plagued the BT-50 since day one; and, until they replace the bakkie with an all new model (most likely in 2018), sales will continue to be slow, no matter how much tinsel they add to it.
Mazda BT-50 Drifter Double Cab Images