• Mazda has revealed its third-generation BT-50 bakkie
• Kodo design philosophy has been applied to the new bakkie
• The BT-50 is a joint venture with Isuzu
Mazda has finally revealed its third-generation BT-50.
Part of a joint bakkie platform project with Isuzu, this new double-cab looks a lot less controversial than the second-generation bakkie, which has often been criticised for its odd headlights and strange grille proportions.
Mazda has applied its Kodo design philosophy to the new bakkie, which has far better proportions and detailing, especially when viewed from the front.
SUV design influence
Headlights are now smaller and more rectangular in shape, while the large grille is balanced in appearance, by four bold horizontal slats. The successful design of Mazda’s SUVs and crossovers have definitely influenced its new bakkie.
Mazda South Africa says it will confirm local arrival timing within the next few weeks.
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Around the rear third-generation, BT-50 has redesigned taillights, which feature the circular patterning first seen on Mazda's MX-5 sportscar. Completing the design are 18-inch alloy wheels, which are structurally a five-spoke design and rolls 265/60 profile tyres. The wheel and tyre dimensions should give BT-50 a fair balance between ride comfort and adequate air-volume for deflation when drivers wish to venture off-road and are required to lower tyre pressures.
Measured bumper-to-bumper, the new BT-50 is actually shorter by 79mm, wider by 20mm and has a 47mm lower roofline than the second-generation bakkie. That last measurement is particularly important, as it gives new BT-50 a lower centre of gravity, for better high-speed stability and emergency avoidance steering dynamics.
Inside the new double-cab, there is finally a reach adjustable steering wheel and vastly upgraded infotainment offering. Instrumentation transitions from analogue to digital, while a 9-inch touchscreen infotainment system is both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible.
Anyone familiar with the new Isuzu D-Max cabin design will recognise that many of the controls and design elements are similar, due to Mazda’s cooperation agreement with its traditional Japanese rival. Like the Mazda CX-range of crossovers, this new BT-50 has ergonomically contoured and padded seats, and its cabin trim will be available in a contrasting colour arrangement.
Isuzu engine technology
Powering the new BT-50 is Isuzu's 3.0-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel, boosting 140kW and 450Nm. Those numbers are slightly less than Ford’s 2-litre bi-turbodiesel Ranger (157kW/500Nm) and Toyota’s new Hilux 2.8-litre (150kW/500Nm).
Gearbox options are either a manual or automatic six-speed, with a low-range transfer case for the 4x4 variants. Mazda rates the new BT-50 at a 1065kg loadbox carrying capacity and claims that it will be certified to tow 3500kg.
The new bakkie has superior dynamic safety equipment to its predecessor. Engineers have added adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency brake intervention, blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert – which is especially useful when reversing a large bakkie out of a parking bay and into a busy road.
South African launch dates have not been confirmed, but Mazda bakkie fans will be thrilled with the overall redesign and depth of upgrades on this third-generation BT-50.
Although power has dropped with the change from Ford's 3.2-litre five-cylinder to an Isuzu 3.0-litre engine, it is only a case of 7kW and 20Nm. Mazda has promised that better fuel economy numbers are well worth the marginal reduction in engine output.