We test drive the Mazda BT-50 double cab

2016-11-30 06:01
Mazda BT-50 has a carlike feel on the inside with accents of silver adding to a stylish look.

Mazda BT-50 has a carlike feel on the inside with accents of silver adding to a stylish look.

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SOME of the most difficult vehicles for me to test drive and write about are bakkies – in any shape or form. I find them, especially the big double cabs, a huge nuisance on the school run or in parking areas.

And one just has to go and look at any school run or shopping centre and see how many double cabs are parked there and have become the family vehicle.

Every now and again, I find myself – being a motoring columnist – behind the wheel of a double cab and becoming that nuisance.

The test vehicle was the Mazda BT-50 2.2L 4x2 Double Cab with 6-speed manual transmission. The vehicle was taken on the mom’s taxi route, as well as a daytrip to Port Alfred. And the terrible state of the roads in this town, is certainly a good enough excuse to own a bakkie in town.

The Mazda BT-50 double cabs are available in 2.2 litre and 3.2 litre engines. The 2.2 litre is only available with a 6-speed manual transmission and in 4x2, while the 3.2 litre versions are available with manual or automatic gearboxes and in 4x2 and 4x4 guise.

In a bakkie, used mainly on the mom’s taxi route, I would have preferred an automatic transmission to the manual one test driven. I find the first gear always a bit problematic and its almost easier to pull away in second gear than in first.

I have test driven many of the double cabs on the market, and I can say that as far as comfort and equipment levels go, the Mazda should be a bigger competitor in this market segment than it currently is.

The interior of the BT 50 does offer a lot of the comfort features of a car and is quite spacious and comfortable in addition to looking stylish with nice silver accents – yes – who would have thought the word stylish and bakkie would be used in one sentence.

All the models come with power windows and mirrors, air-conditioning and cruise control. Sat nav is also standard in some of the models. A trip computer is another handy feature.

There are also switches on the steering wheel for the audio system and the Bluetooth functions.

The passengers in the back also benefit from an armrest with cupholders and lots of legroom.

As far as its bakkie quality goes, it has a big loadbed with the ability to haul over 1,400kg or tow 3,500kg.

Ride and safety

The new generation turbo diesel engine uses advanced common-rail direct injection resulting in more power with less fuel consumption.

Hill Descent Control (HDC) automatically applies brakes to maintain a steady, low speed down steep slopes.

Hill Launch Assist (HLA) keeps the brakes applied for about two seconds when you remove your foot from the brake pedal to apply throttle.

Other safety features include ABS and Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), which optimises braking force according to vehicle load.

Emergency Brake Assist (EBA) monitors pedal application to recognise emergency braking, adding stopping power right when it’s needed.

The Mazda BT-50’s handling is responsive, and apart from the gearbox – which felt typically like that of a bakkie – it does have a car-like feel when driving it.

You only know you are in a bakkie again when you try to look for a parking space.

Its handling and steering is responsive and despite being on the open road without a big load to bulk it down, the ride was solid and not as floaty as one would expect.

Price:

Prices for the BT-50 Double Cab models range from R409 900 to R516 200.

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