2017’s most popular 4x4s: Mazda BT-50

Mazda BT 50 report card

IT’S HARD to believe how poorly the Mazda BT-50 sells in comparison to the Ford Ranger, given they are – in essence – the same ute.

Read more of 4X4's 2017 Most Popular Report Cards

The Ranger offers some notable technical differences, but the Mazda counters with sharper pricing. Even so, for every BT-50, nearly four Rangers have rolled out of showrooms this year.

Mazda BT-50 frontNot only is the BT-50 closely related to the Ranger, it’s also essentially a Ford rather than a Mazda, a reversal of the pre-2011 arrangement where Ford piggybacked off Mazda for its light commercials.

For starters, the 3.2-litre five-cylinder diesel is a Ford design and is, in most ways, where the appeal of the BT-50 begins. This is a torquey, low-revving and agreeable engine that gets the job done without fuss.

In the BT-50, it’s a bit gruff and not quite as responsive at low revs as it is in the Ranger; due to the fact the Ranger was upgraded in 2015 and the BT-50 wasn’t.

Mazda BT-50 rearAs with the Ranger, the engine is backed by a slick ZF six-speed auto, which enjoys working with both the engine’s torque and flexibility and final-drive gearing that’s not overly tall.

On road, the BT-50 basically does what the Ranger does, which is a good thing, except you feel its size and weight more in low-speed manoeuvring, as it doesn’t enjoy the benefit of electric power steering as fitted to the Ranger since its 2015 facelift. However, others might argue the Mazda’s ‘old-school’ hydraulic system is potentially more robust.

Off-road, the BT-50 is a good thing; although, a notch down from the Ranger due to another 2015 upgrade the Ford received – leaving the front traction control active when the rear locker is engaged – which was not adopted by Mazda.

Otherwise, everything that is likable about the Ranger, including a spacious and notably long cabin and excellent towing and load-carrying ability, is essentially true of the Mazda BT-50.

SALES
2017 (to June): 3622
2016 (to June): 3863
Change: - 6.2%

REPORT CARD*
Powertrain: C
On-road: B
Off-road: B
Cabin & Equipment: A
Towing & Practicality: B
Final word: Essentially a Ford Ranger, but not as good in the detail.

*Scored against class competitors. A= Excellent. B= Very Good. C= Good. D= Fair. E= Poor. F= Fail.

 

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