Bakkie battles: Mazda vs Isuzu

The next few months are going to be very busy with a host of new and updated bakkies, making their way to local showroom floors. In South Africa the Toyota Hilux – set to undergo an update in October – is a market leader; followed closely by the Ford Ranger. However, Mazda has recently updated its BT-50 offering and Isuzu has finally given us a new D-Max. Let’s take a closer look at what you can expect from these two players in the bakkie market. 

The Mazda BT-50:

The all-new Mazda BT-50 design expresses the unique beauty of Mazda’s Kodo-Soul of Motion design theme with power, toughness and utilitarian functionality suited to a pickup truck. Mazda developed the BT-50 intending to make travel and the time spent inside the vehicle as enjoyable as possible. The vehicle’s driving performance, functionality and safety meet the functional needs of the wide range of situations in which customers may use a bakkie. 

The latest Mazda BT-50 might share the same platform as Isuzu, but this new model also happens to be 79mm shorter than the model that it replaces. It is however 20mm wider and has a 47mm lower roofline than the second-generation bakkie. That last measurement means that the new BT-50 has a lower centre of gravity, for better high-speed stability and emergency avoidance steering dynamics. 

Inside the new double cab, reports suggest that the vehicle finally features a reach-adjustable steering wheel and vastly upgraded infotainment. It now features a 9-inch touchscreen infotainment system, which is both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible. Instrumentation transitions from analogue to digital for a more modern look and feel. 

Powering the new BT-50 is the Isuzu derived 3.0-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel which develops 140kW and 450Nm. Those numbers are slightly less than Ford’s new 2.0-litre bi-turbodiesel found in the 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 4×4 variants. 

The Isuzu D-Max

Isuzu is a long-standing favourite within its segment here in South Africa and enjoys a loyal following. However, apart from a few special editions on their now outdated offering, the brand failed to bring something new to the table in recent years. Thus, it was a refreshing sign when the bakkie specialists announced an all-new D-Max and it promises to be well worth the wait.

The All-New D-MAX is more capable than ever before, designed to handle the harshest of conditions. The Isuzu 3.0L turbo diesel engine delivers 140kW of power and 450Nm of torque, matched with either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission. Using highly-advanced Isuzu common-rail diesel technology, this balances the power with impressive fuel efficiency. The high levels of torque from a low rpm provide strong take-off and acceleration and aid drivability with consistent torque output through the majority of the rev-range.

Like the Mazda, the new D-Max also features a style-focused interior with a large 9-inch touchscreen taking centre stage. The system also supports smartphone connectivity seamlessly to your vehicle via Android Auto and wireless Apple CarPlay which ensured optimum connectivity while being hands-free.

In Australia, Isuzu’s Intelligent Driver Assistance System (IDAS) technolog – which encapsulates driver assistance systems as well as passive and active safety systems – is standard across every D-MAX model. Using state-of-the-art sensors and multiple cameras, the D-MAX constantly monitors the surrounding environment. The system also includes features such as autonomous emergency braking (AEB), turn assist with AEB, automatic Bi-LED headlights and high beams and trailer sway control (TSC). 

All of these systems have become vital safety features, and we hope to see them and others on both vehicles when they come to the South African market. Unfortunately, no specifications have been confirmed as of yet. Right now though, as it stands, the Ford Ranger offers the most in terms of comfort and safety features. Will it lose its crown to one of these contenders? Only time will tell! In the meantime, the Adventure-Avontuur Afrika team is watching the bakkie battle with close interest – stay tuned for updated information as it becomes available! 

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