Beauty or beast?
The words “good looking” and pick-up generally go together like petrol and diesel. That hasn’t stopped manufacturers in recent times trying to woo buyers who’d like a pick-up, but balk at the idea of looking like they spend their days ferrying around livestock, cabbages and manure.
Mazda’s new one-ton offering, the latest generation of its long-running B-Series range, plays up the lifestyle and good looks side of things. And to an extent, it succeeds.
The striking exterior styling could quite possibly attract fans as well as detractors – some people do like the rough ‘n tough look – but there is no denying that it stands out in a crowd. And, of course, the lines are in keeping with Mazda’s new family “face”.
We drove the BT-50 on a mix of tar, gravel and sand way up in northern KZN. Although both 4×2 and 4×4 variants were available, through a scheduling mix-up we ended up driving the 4×4 throughout. Which we didn’t mind: the brawny 5-cylinder sweeps the big pick-up along with little apparent effort and enviable smoothness. We were particularly impressed by the BT-50’s comfortable ride, which only gets caught out when the surface becomes really bumpy at speed.
We can’t agree with Mazda’s view that it combines luxury car refinement with pick-up toughness, though. Although the interior is by no means just a functional zone – there are plenty of creature comforts – the ride is, well, good… for a pick-up. One area in which Mazda certainly do get the thumbs-up is rear seat comfort. We drove four up for an extended period and a tallish co-traveller was comfortable in the back.
There are three body types: double or single cab and Mazda’s take on the cab-and-a-half, the Freestyle Cab. They’re all longer wider and higher than the current vehicle.
The 2,2-litre common-rail direct-injection diesel, expected to be the mainstay of the BT-50 engine line-up, is offered in two power outputs: 88 kW/285 N.m or 110 kW/375 N.m. The flagship MZ-CD 3,2 churns out a massive 147 kW at 3 000 r/min and 470 N.m between 1 750 and 2 500 r/min. The 122 kW and 225 N.m 2,5 petrol is mated with a new 5-speed manual transmission, as is the entry-level 2,2 diesel.
The more powerful of the diesels are mated with a 6-speed transmission – choice of manual or auto. All 4WD versions feature a shift-on-the-fly transfer case.
Comfort and convenience features (some only on more upmarket models) include driver’s airbag, radio, MP3-compatible CD player and AUX socket, multi-function display, high-performance sound system and new dualzone automatic air conditioning system.
A 4-year/120 000 km comprehensive manufacturer warranty and a five-year/90 000 km service plan, including a three-year MazdaMotion roadside assistance plan are standard. Service intervals are 15 000 km.
Wallpapers > New on the Block (October 2012 issue)