BT-50’s new soul in motion

Mazda Southern Africa is poised to launch its third-generation BT-50 locally. Unlike generation two which was based on the Ford Ranger and used the 3.2-litre five-cylinder mill, the latest iteration will borrow a platform and drivetrains from Isuzu’s upcoming D-Max, and will arrive as a full import built in Thailand.

The new D-Max will only be released in 2022, after being given a series of engineering tweaks to give it a distinct South African identity. Meanwhile, the Mazda has been given an attractive reskin using Mazda’s Kodo, or “Soul of Motion” design principles, and with its sleek new front end and crisp shoulder lines, it has taken an aesthetic leap ahead of the predecessor.

The interior look and feel signals another major leap, with a redesigned dash, console, seats and steering wheel. The central infotainment interface features a 7- or 9-inch display screen and uses Mazda’s MZT Connect system loaded with  Apple Carplay and Android Auto, as befits most modern SUVs. Driver aids and safety equipment is specified at a high level and will include a reverse camera, parking sensors, LED headlamps, a hill launch assist and descent control, seven airbags and cruise control.

Local buyers will have access to three trim grades, being Active, Dynamic and Individual. The Active grade uses a new 1.9-litre turbodiesel with 110 kW and 350 Nm, available in auto or manual. The Dynamic and Individual variants use a reworked version of Isuzu’s reliable and long-standing 3.0-litre turbodiesel with revisions to the block, internals and injectors, boosted to 140 kW and 450 Nm of torque. These will be coupled to a six-speed automatic transmission, with only the Individual model offered with a 4×4 drivetrain and low-range transfer case.

Bookmark 15 July for the local online reveal on Mazda’s Facebook and YouTube platforms, with pricing and further details available from 23 July. What do you think? Have Mazda’s design team transformed the divisive old BT-50 and made it into an attractive bakkie?

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