mazda-bt-50-diesel-pick The all new BT-50 truck is one of the latest Mazda variants to inherit the five-point grille and overall design cues that are most recognizable amongst current and future Mazda vehicles. And these days, pick ups or trucks, for that matter, take up plenty of sedan-like features both inside and out.

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The new BT-50, at a glance, presents a pick up that’s not boxy, unappealing, instead more streamlined, sportier with an aerodynamic virtue that is consistent in Mazda’s zoom-zoom hegemony. No…we are not Mazda salesmen, because we do have some downsides for this truck though the negatives are far and few in between.

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This trend is similar in the interior of the car. The dual cabin is spacious, while again the similarity of the center console follows Mazda’s intricacies to the point. At the rear cabin there is ample leg room by an additional 2”and the head room definitely suits regular 6 footers or taller individuals. The steering is height adjustable but doesn’t offer the necessary reach adjustment. Meantime, the front seats minus lumbar support won’t sustain passenger car like comfort on long drives.

A drive in city with light traffic depicted that the truck could perform up to Mazda’s advised mileage. It did close to 8.2 liters per 100km or 12.2 km per liter. The car was still less than 5000km in total travel distance and we thought the efficiency ratings would improve further into the distance count. Considering the pick up weighs to 2.1 tons, the fuel efficiency factor is attributed to the aero shaped body, the six-speed manual gearbox and fuel efficient turbo diesel engine. You should be able to hit above 800km on a single tank, with the assumption that there’s approximately10l left.

During normal driving conditions, the suspension was a little firm meaning that it was almost not soft enough to absorb small unevenness on road surfaces. The more obvious qualm was the loud cluttering of the diesel powerplant even inside the cab, however the engine vibration could be deemed passable. The drive was comfortable but a bit more refinement would have been better, but for a pick up the BT-50 goes pretty well on our books. We felt that, if possible, the BT-50 could utilize a suspension setup that’s more suited for load capacity rather than passengers’ comfort, so it’s a compromise between one or the other as one would say.

Parking was rather difficult due to the BT-50’s extra large pick up size, long wheelbase and massive rear profile, especially in basement carparks or automated parking lots. But we’re pretty sure that the pick up’s parking routine will become easier with lots of practice.

Overtaking in this truck is simple, as putting it into the right gear and flooring the accelerator. In few instances on the freeways of course, we managed to push the pick up to 180km/h, thanks to the turbo power that kicked in in half a second intervals. This proves the truck’s impressive torque of 375NM and 150hp output as per the specs sheet. Turbo lag was noticeable whenever we wanted to go for it, but we realized that it’s a pick up after all. The BT-50 assumed comfortable cruise speed of 120 km/h on highways at 2100 rpm or 90 km/h at 1500 rpm.

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The rear tub is very spacious, we think the BT-50 has one of the most spacious tubs in the segment. It’s 1550mm in length by 1139mm in width. While the tubs depth is about 511mm. The BT-50 also has a towing capacity of 3500kg, which is a massive pull. This truck is a fair compromise as a workhorse and also as a family cruiser for the weekend. Safety is ensured with full works of active features such as Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD), Traction Control System (TCS), 6 airbags, Hill Decent Control (HDC), Break Assist (BA), Anti-lock Braking System ABS and Dynamic Stability Control (DSC). Additionally, HDC, DSC and TCS come standard in the auto variant.

The second part of testing was up Frasier’s Hill. On the ascend course, the car had very little body roll through the uphill hazardous twisty sections especially at the later part. Thanks to its double wishbone suspension and leaf spring at the rear the pick up stayed firmly on the pavement, able to negotiate each tight twist of the road with quite adequate precision, while the steering wheel felt good and firm with its leather wrapping.

The truck was pushed hard through the tight esses and had no real problems on the blind spots due to its stiff chassis and wide tyres (265/17 R17). The powerful turbo diesel yawned as it just wanted to be pushed harder but alas we could not pursue it to the max as slower cars held us back. This truck yearned to be driven hard, and traction could have been increased further on 4H mode. With the right gear choices and “torque-ish” turbo diesel engine, there was not a hint of difficulty getting this 2 ton beast up the hilly and hazardous Frasers route.

Descending wasn’t too much bother either. There were no issues of stopping the BT-50 with the standard braking system – the front discs and sturdy rear drums. It only required light taps to slow the pick up, of course It also depends on the driver’s experience. The BT-50 had good grip around the descending esses, but we felt if it had better seats it would have been more helpful to hold the driver through the bends,

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The BT-50 comes standard with auto cruise control, which we found quite amusing, since it actually can be turned on at any speed as low as 40 km/h. The truck also has a 2L,4H and 4L switch located on the center console towards the front passenger side for ease of going 2-wheel, 4-wheel, 4H or 4L on the go.

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In terms of conveniences, the BT-50 carries an audio unit with Bluetooth connectivity. a USB/AUX jack and tuner, and at the top side there’s an approximately 3.5” display for vehicle data . Sound and music is heard via the 6 speakers all around the pick up. Standard exterior and interior features include dual zone climate control, fog lamps and 17 inch rims, parking sensor (a must), alarm, immobilizer, side steps, auto headlights, auto dim rear view mirror, rain sensor and leather seats. Optional add-ons are canopy and sport bars, check with Bermaz Motor for details. The top-of-the-line BT-50 3.2l variant (6 speed auto) includes GPS Navigation.

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The 3.2 variant produces 198 hp with an impressive 470NM of torque and is priced at RM 107,051 OTR, while the manual 6 speed 2.2 litre version sells for RM 89,841 OTR. The 2.2 litre 6 speed automatic variant retails at RM 95,552 OTR.

We’d like to see that one day Mazda’ll incorporate the BT-50’s the turbo diesel and 6-speed auto or manual transmission combination in one of the popular sedans: the Mazda 3 and Mazda 6. The MPS is one example, though it carries a 2.3 turbo engine and higher price tag. The Mazda pick up which is a lot more cost effective has proven itself time and again as an exemplary platform. Should Mazda adopts this platform for its passenger cars, it’d propel the Zoom-Zoom marque;s vitality up a notch since the domestic automotive market is still adapting to diesel-typed sedans; amongst the popular ones: the Ford Focus TDCI and the BMW 320d.

View our complete Mazda BT-50 pictorial here: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151283993504831.488454.9136384830&type=1

By Associate writer, Avinash