06 July 2018
Whakatane Beacon, Whakatane Bay of Plenty
BEACON reporter Mark Rieder takes the 2018 Mazda BT50 Double Cab Limited 4x4 for a test drive.
WITH upgraded equipment and a bold new front-end, the 2018 Mazda BT50 exterior says it's a beefy no-nonsense sport ute, but the interior speaks only of luxury.
Driving the BT50 is almost an outof-body experience as the ute takes backroads and rutted trails almost as though they were paved, providing a solid feel to the experience.
Historically, the BT50 has been a dark horse in the dual cab arena, as Mazda has been hesitant to significantly update or re-engineer the vehicle over its 12-year history.
Since 2015, Mazda's marketing strategy for the BT50 was to stay away from comparisons to luxury lines and to concentrate on utility.
The front console is a bit unimpressive, but it is functional and has every switch and dial within easy reach.
In a first for Mazda, all variants of the BT50 now come with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and they all now have reverse camera as standard.
The 3.2-litre turbo-diesel likes to be pushed.
At low speeds in heavy traffic the BT50 automatic transmission tends to hold onto lower gears for longer than necessary, an indication it has not been engineered for stop-start city driving.
But get it out on the highway and you can open it up. It's no sports car but this Mazda's combination of engine, smooth automatic transmission (best at higher speeds), fine steering and assured on-road stance, make for an all-round enjoyable driving experience.
2018 Mazda BT50 Double Cab Ltd 4x4 3.2-litre turbo diesel engine Cruise control Satellite navigation Reversing camera $59,795 Nicholson's car of the week